The government’s announcement that it intends to extent its 90 day fire-at-will legislation so that it covers all workplaces of all sizes will give bullying employers a weapon to intimidate their newest, most vulnerable, employees.
Sharn Riggs of the Tertiary Education Union says most staff in the tertiary education sector had previously been safe from the legal consequences of the fire-at-will legislation, because it applied only to workers in workplaces of fewer than twenty employees. Now, however, all employers will be able to sack arbitrarily new workers during the first three months of their employment.
“The problem for all workers, not just those in tertiary education, is not so much the threat of being sacked after 90 days, but the way it changes the relative power employers have over employees when the employer has the ability to sack staff without reason,” Ms Riggs said. “Legislation like this will, in the long run, reduce people’s holidays, sick leave, and salaries by reducing workers’ abilities to stand up for their rights.”
“The government claims that this fire-at-will law is about creating jobs. The harsh reality is that a fire-at-will law doesn’t make it any easier to hire workers. It only makes it easier to fire them.”
The other new labour relations announcement from the government is that it intends restricting workers’ ability to meet their union representatives in their workplaces. Sharn Riggs says this is another sign that the government wants to ensure that workers come totally under the thumb of their employers..
“Unions are democratic organisations that give working people independent, professional employment advice. Workers should have the right to access that advice in their own place of employment. Locking unions out of the workplace simply gives those employers who are bullies free range of the playground,” said Ms Riggs.