Rodney Hide shows up the ridiculous-ness of Part 6A and doesn’t hold much hope on National or the minister responsible for changes, Simon Bridges, in making sensible changes.
The toilets are filthy. The workplace a mess. The cleaners are second-rate and, worse, can’t be trusted.
Staff endlessly complain but nothing changes. The government department concerned complains repeatedly to the cleaning company, but to no avail.
The company is fired, a new company contracted but the dud cleaners remain in place. The toilets stay filthy. The workplaces remain a mess.
That’s because the Helen Clark-led government amended the Employment Relations Act to ensure “vulnerable workers” don’t get fired or lose terms and conditions when one cleaning contractor replaces another. You can fire the cleaning company but not the cleaners.
It’s nuts. The law has proved totally unworkable and a millstone around the neck of industry. Poorly performing companies are protected. Up-and-coming companies are denied opportunity.
Worse still in a dodgy deal they enabled the creation of the BSC and put in place a cosy little rort where only members of the BSC could get government contracts.
Private industry, government departments, schools and hospitals must suffer second-rate cleaning services. One cleaning company is facing two $25,000 personal grievance claims after taking over a school cleaning contract.
The company has honoured hours, remuneration and all things required under Part 6A of the act. But that’s not proved enough. The grievances have been filed because the new contractor expects the new cleaners – like all their cleaners – to be trained and to clean to an internationally recognised cleaning standard.
The cleaners argue that’s an illegal change to terms and conditions. I kid you not. One of the transferred cleaners is refusing to use the new company’s cleaning agents: she doesn’t like their fragrance. A principled, thinking government would bowl Part 6A as a costly mistake.
Unfortunately we don’t have a principled, thinking government. Firstly we had Comrade Kate, the most union friendly minister of labour ever…unions even grew in size on her watch. Now we have Simon Bridges…who is yet to show that he isn’t captured by the wallies at the ministry.
Actually, that’s not quite right. A principled, thinking government would bowl the entire act. But the success of the John Key-led government rests on National’s ruthless political pragmatism. Our timid, toe-in-the-water government seeks only to amend Part 6A.
It is the same timidity that won’t seem them adopt Jami-lee Ross’ bill as a government measure.
It is proposed the law will only apply to the big companies. Small companies won’t have to take on the previous contractor’s workers but big companies will.
There is no logic, no principle and no reason for such a nonsense. It’s either a good idea that workers are tied to a job irrespective of who has the contract, or it’s not. The policy conclusion can’t turn on the size of the company doing the employing.
But it gets worse.
The old Labour Department eggs now employed in the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are busy watering down the timid amendment. They recommend amending the proposed amendment to the amendment.
It’s getting complicated. Under what the government has proposed franchisees would correctly be small enterprises.
But the policy eggs are recommending that franchisors and franchisees be treated under the law as associated persons and legally as one. That would mean a small franchisee, for the purpose of the act, would be a big business and must take on the previous contractor’s cleaners.
The policy eggs’ purpose is to neuter the government’s timid policy change. In doing so, it would upend the entire law of franchising. The franchisor and franchisee would no longer be legally separate. The success of the franchising model is now at risk.
See what I mean by ministerial capture. Bridges needs to take control and actually do something positive, otherwise he could become Comrade Simon.