PROTESTERS GATHERED at Parliament last week to rally against the Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment bill, which the New Zealand Union of Student’s Associations (NZUSA) say will be detrimental to students if passed.
Around 1000 people, mostly union members, gathered in the rain outside Parliament last Thursday to protest against the private member’s bill sponsored by National MP Wayne Mapp. Larger unions, such as the Engineering, Manufacturing and Printing Union (EPMU), bussed in members for the rally.
The bill, which is currently before select committee, allows a 90 day “probationary period” for new workers during which personal grievance procedures will not apply. President of the Council of Trade Unions Ross Wilson, in addressing those gathered, called the bill “cynical” and said it would discriminate against vulnerable workers.
A song written especially for the protest went further, calling the bill “total bullshit.”
NZUSA Co-President Joey Randall says, if passed, the bill will have “a signifi cant impact” on students, especially those working over summer – a period of three months.
A motion opposing the bill was passed at a recent NZUSA conference.
Mapp echoes Randall’s concerns, stating that he “imagine[s] students would be concerned” about the bill. However, he suggests the bill might be changed during the select committee process to include a one-month probationary period for shortterm contract workers, such as students over summer.
Mapp attempted to address the crowd at the rally but was booed so loudly he could not be heard, a reaction he says was not surprising. He says union attempts to “characterise the bill as an extremist measure” were a “gross overreaction.”