20 Oct 2010

Thousands at rallies over planned labour law changes

10:40 pm on 20 October 2010

Unions say about 22,000 people have attended nation-wide rallies to protest against the Government's plans to change employment laws.

The 25 events took place on Wednesday afternoon, including at Parliament and at Manukau in South Auckland.

About 7000 people were at Manukau's Pacific Events Centre and many workers say they went on strike to attend the event. The rally in Wellington drew about 2000 people.

The rallies are part of a campaign against the Government's 90-day employment trial legislation, which allows employers to fire a worker within the first three months without the employee being able to take a personal grievance case.

Unions involved say there are other attacks on workers' rights, including restrictions to union advice and a proposal for employers to require a doctor's certificate for one day's absence.

The Council of Trade Unions says the changes are unworkable, unfair and an insult to workers. President Helen Kelly says unions are determined to keep campaigning, including through next year's general election.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says there now needs to be unity to better workers' lives, which the changes will not do.

The Service and Food Workers Union says female workers will suffer.