2 Jan 2009

CTU accused of paranoia over National led Govt

5:03 pm on 2 January 2009

The Council of Trade Unions predicts 2009 will be a busy year for union activity.

CTU president Helen Kelly says a number of workers' rights need to be protected.

She says the union believes one of the Government's first cuts will be to annual holidays and the fourth week of annual leave, as well as payment for sick leave and removal of union access.

But Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson says National has not at any stage indicated it would be cutting any of those.

She says the CTU is paranoid about a National led government and what it might do to employment law.

Ms Wilkinson says she doesn't know where the CTU is getting its information.

She says the new Government does plan to review the holiday legislation, but it will be undertaken by a working party comprising Business New Zealand and the CTU.

Ninety day probationary law

Ms Kelly says the beginning of the year will be marked by a CTU campaign to have the Government's 90 day probationary law repealed.

The legislation gives companies employing fewer than 20 workers 90-days to dismiss new workers without fear of a personal grievance claim being brought against them.

It comes into effect on March 1, but Ms Kelly says the unions are not giving up.

She says until it is repealed the union will be highlighting people who have been treated unfairly under that law.

But Ms Wilkinson says once the employee probationary law comes into effect unions will realise it's a win-win situation for employers and workers.

She says the Council of Trade Union's fears that some employees will be treated unfairly are unfounded.

Ms Wilkinson says for example, the bill includes allowing those on a benefit to work for a trial period and if that doesn't work, then they don't have to go onto a stand down period to continue receiving the benefit.

She says the Government believes this is a great step to give those on benefits the confidence to get into the workforce.