Rodney Hide on Part 6A

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.


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  • Michael

    The cleaning contractors were changed in my office building recently. I was sitting in a meeting room one morning have a coffee and the new manager and company rep thought they had found a private corridor to have a discussion. They talked about the staff they wanted to keep and the staff that would be getting written warnings for poor performance. That was three days after taking over.

  • AngryTory

    Jami-Lee ross is the only MP offering any kind of opposition to the communist policies of the current government.

    What’s the point of voting National if the polices are even further to the left of Hellen Clark?

  • mike

    Maybe JK is playing it smart, he knows that at the moment National doesn’t have that huge majority it needs to push through unpopular legislation like this, which could cause them to lose votes and be relegated to opposition next election.

    I think he will push through minor changes where he can, while still maintaining a healthy rating in the polls with the hope Labour and Greens will implode therefore freeing him up to make the big changes he probably wants to make…

    That’s the problem with Democracy you have to cater to the masses. Problem is there is no decent working, palatable alternative. Churchill put is best:

    “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

    • AngryTory

      National doesn’t have that huge majority it needs to push through unpopular legislation like this,

      National doesn’t need a “huge majority”. The only thing National needs a huge majority for is changing the electoral act or getting rid of the Queen.

      maintaining a healthy rating in the polls with the hope Labour and Greens will implode therefore freeing him up to make the big changes he probably wants to make…

      He’s already been in 6 years – when will these “big changes” start?

      Or do you think that in the third or fourth term National will suddenly think “ahh we’re fucked for the next time around” and then start dismantling NZ’s communist system because they know they’ll lose next time. Yeah Right!

      He had a better majority in the first term, and the GFC and the earthquake.

      No NZ government ever had a better mandate for change than Key in his first term. And he squandered the lot.

      That’s the problem with Democracy you have to cater to the masses. Problem is there is no decent working, palatable alternative. Churchill put is best:

      Oh please. Remember when he said this he still thought of “Democracy” as no more than one vote for the head of each family only. Not like today, What’s more, not long after he said this he was voted out and Atlee established communism in the UK – and sixty years later Churchill’s Conservative successor is finally, slowly, starting to undo some of the damage.

      A country where most of the population pays no nett tax but have the vote is not a democracy. It’s a bludgerocracy. But what would a state house, state school, DPB kid know about that? Or especially now about stopping that?

      • Mediaan

        John Key is doing what he told the electorate he would do. He is refraining from doing what he said he would not do.

        It’s called being straight and honest.

        • AngryTory

          I don’t care what it’s “called” – its craven and communist.

  • flashman

    Performance is the only thing cleaning contractors have to compete with each other on, and Part 6A rips the guts out of their ability to do that. They can’t compete on hourly rates and cleaning materials costs, they’re at minimum already. The new cleaning contractor at our place spent the first 6 months of the contract battling with a handful of belligerent under-performing cleaners they couldn’t let go, instead of focussing on delivering the best service. It’s not about protecting vulnerable workers – there isn’t exactly an abundance of brilliant cleaners and the good ones will always be kept on. It’s about sucking up to the unions. If National won’t bin this clause, then who are National?

  • jonam182

    This legislation needs to be changed, in the organisation i work for. Cleaning contractors are rated monthly and poor performance means they lose the contract. Unfortunately like Rodney has stated they use the “same cleaners” and we have had three different Cleaning agencies this year but continously receiving the same poor result day in and day out.

    • Mediaan

      A Sociology lecturer at Vic in the 1970s confided to me he had two jobs. The other was his own business, commercial cleaning.

      He had bought a van and some equipment a while back and started tendering. Now, he said, he found it hard to give it up. He was making so much more money at it than in lecturing.

  • TomTom

    If you’re a school, fire all the damn cleaners, hire a caretaker or two and hire your kids to do afternoon work. It’s great way to earn money and kill two or three hours during the arvos.

  • bobby

    The proposed changes to 6A with regards to only applying them to big companies is even worse than Hide explains it. The law is such that it treats any franchisee (in NZ generally owned and operated by one or two people) not as an owner-operated company which it is but as merely an arm of the overall franchise company network.

    This means most situations where a small company would seem to be exempt from the obligations of having to hire dud staff of the previous contractor they actually wont be – their size will be determined as that of the ENTIRE franchise network operating under that brand. It means the “19 staff or under” will never apply to any franchise system contractor.