[Documents menu]Labor History of Aotearoa - New Zealand
&34; Date: Wed, 17 Dec 97 21:55:33 CST
From: bghauk@berlin.infomatch.com (Brian Hauk)
Subject: New Zealand Workers Protest Proposal To Limit Labor Rights

New Zealand Workers Protest Proposal To Limit Labor Rights

By Stuart Needham, in the Militant
Vol. 61, no. 45 (22 December 1997)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -Trade unionists throughout New Zealand have launched a public protest campaign against proposals being considered by the National Party-New Zealand First coalition government to amend the Holidays Act and Employment Contracts Act.

The Holidays Act guarantees workers 11 paid public holidays a year and three weeks' annual leave. Changes being considered by the government would allow employers to replace some or all of these holidays with cash payments. Part-time workers would be classified as casual employees with no holiday entitlements.

Other changes being considered include abolishing or reducing the powers of the Employment Court, which currently hears about 4,000 personal grievance cases brought by workers against employers each year, and a review of minimum wage provisions.

Unionists also fear that the Employment Contracts Act will be amended to weaken personal grievance rights, particularly the right to claim "unjustified dismissal." Such changes would make it easier for employers to fire workers at will.

Some 3,000 workers rallied at Parliament in Wellington, the capital, December 10 to protest the measure. Demonstrations are also being organized in most major towns and cities throughout the South Island, beginning December 13 in Nelson and ending in Dunedin five days later.

A march and rally in Christchurch's city center is being held at midday, December 17. A number of unions, including members of the Meat Workers and Related Trades Union, are stopping work to attend the protests.

Stuart Needham is a member of the Meat Workers Union. To get an introductory 12-week subscription to the Militant in the U.S., send $10 US to: The Militant, 410 West Street, New York, NY 10014.

For subscription rates to other countries, send e-mail to themilitant@igc.apc.org or write to the above address.

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