Far-reaching workplace reforms, including moves touted by opponents as scrapping meal breaks and smokos, were given prime billing in Parliament last week in a symbolic show of strength by the incoming Government.

Opposition MPs slowed down the new law’s passage, but it is heading for a final reading on Tuesday, making it the first law to hit the statute books in John Key’s third term.

It is likely no mistake it was singled out as first cab off the legislative rank. National’s plans to pass the Employment Relations Amendment Bill were thwarted by minor party opposition before the September 20 election. By ramming it through before Labour has even chosen a new leader, Key is clearly signalling his stronger position post-election, where he is no longer reliant on UnitedFuture or the Maori Party, which both opposed the original bill.

The Government’s substantive proposals from before the election remain in train, including the lightning rod provision that would end the current entitlement to meal breaks and “smokos”.

Under the change, an employer would have to provide only “reasonable compensatory meas ures where an employee could not reasonably be provided with breaks”. That could be met by giving equivalent time off work.

Labour launched a petition against the move that drew 10,000 signatures in 24 hours. It hoped to boost that over Labour weekend.

Labour MP Andrew Little – who highlighted the law change during his first leadership pitch to party members – said it showed this was the most “niggardly and nasty” National Government there had been. “To begrudge anyone having a cuppa or a meal break during their working day goes against the grain. It’s a Kiwi tradition. Doing away with it is mean-spirited and unfair.”

Labour’s minority report from the select committee that considered the bill described it as a leap back to the failed 1990s model. They said it continued “the flawed logic” that employers, who already have control of their workplaces and an implied duty of employees to obey instructions, needed more statutory powers.

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This is only the start of the law reforms National will push through, with the Spying Laws and Resource Management Act next to be cut up to suit the agenda. New Zealand was brainwashed into voted for National, and it hasn’t taken long for the arrogance we saw pre-election to turn into bills which will have a real effect on Kiwis. We hope all those who voted National last election will happily to give up their tea breaks as the rest of New Zealand has to deal with their poor decision.

What can be expect next, Union membership to be banned? Annual leave cut? Do these policy makers not realise that productivity in humans isn’t the same as with machines and that bills like these will actually reduce productivity and staff morale?

Self-employment is the obvious answer, but of course isn’t realistic for a lot of people. This also raises the question of how relevant our current levels of consumption and debt slavery are and the reliance we have on the broken system.

You can sign the petition to save your tea break rights here.

 

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4 Responses

  1. Amanda-Jane Davies

    We are humans, not machines….of course we need breaks during the day. Next Keys will be wondering why the cases of RSI have increased and so ACC will be even more stretched. You got to wonder about this guys common sense aye?

    Reply
  2. That Guy

    I predict that Key will push this through despite whatever we say or do.

    Did you know that Citizens Initiated Referendums in this country are not even binding? That means that even if every citizen outside of parliament votes against this bullshit John Key will still just say ‘Nah’ and have it his way.

    Why? Because John Key opposes binding CIRs which naturally means he probably doesn’t give a shit about anyone, even those who vote for him, but as long as he can charm them and lure them with promises that doesn’t matter.

    The ONLY way we can stop politicians bending us over the table and having a good time at our expense is to make CIRs binding. ONLY then will this stupidity cease.

    Reply
  3. SHAUN MCCOSKERY

    FUCK YOU, WE NEED THAT 15 MINUTES MORE THAN EVER. FOR PEOPLE IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY THIS IS VITAL, ESPECIALLY IN SUMMER. HAVE SOME COMMON SENSE, I BET YOU BASTARDS IN PARLIAMENT TAKE MORE THAN YOUR FAIR SHARE OF SMOKO BREAKS..

    Reply

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