Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm not paranoid - I just don't like biased news reportage

The Australian media conglomerate that dominates print news reportage in our part of the world is doing it's bit to either bury or distort reportage of the deteriorating industrial relations scene in New Zealand.

Over at the NZ Herald there is a different picture, with, for example, a lengthy story called "Unions battle to regain lost ground".

And why is that a concern?

Because New Zealand is now entering a period in which workers are beginning to fight back against the further undermining of their conditions of employment.

The public profile is being raised because the House has recently given the first reading of a Bill which will extend a 90-day 'trial period' for employees in small businesses to all employers.

The trial period works like this: An employer employs a new staffer. If, within the first 90 days of employment the employer decides the staffer is not 'suited' to the job, or found deficient in some other way, s/he can be dismissed with no protection and, more importantly, no right of appeal for unfair dismissal.

Proponents of this scheme argue that it promotes employment by allowing employers to try-out new staff, and that removing this tool hinders employment because getting rid of unsatisfactory staff was too costly, time-consuming and complex.

Workers, in contrast, argue that the provision gives employers carte blanche to sack staff within 90 days without good reason, and a lever to be used to keep wage rates down. They further argue that the balance of power in the workplace means employees have no tools with which to assert their rights.

Fairness at work graphicUnion action is being stepped up with the launch of a new Fairness at Work website and a series of public rallies.

And, of course, PPTA is stepping up it's campaign for a pay rise for secondary teachers. Watch the hysteria over empty classrooms and the difficulty for parents' of making arrangements for their children.

Watch also for the silence from Fairfax over the obstinate refusal to negotiate meaningfully by the Government's flunkies.

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