Reblog: Was it just Tea Breaks, or are we in for a fight for our workers rights?

On Tea breaks, Wage Docking And Job Insecurity. John Key’s National Unleashed The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse!

So what if you have to negotiate for every tea break in the future. According to Mike Hostings you’re in the wrong job if you hang out for your cuppa as the highlight of your day! That was how the change in labour law was framed in the compliant and complicit mainstream media. But was has really been achieved by John Key’s National party? Here is my take on it.

To start with these changes are not unrelated. They are very smart changes which will completely gut whatever rights workers have enjoyed because of union power and here is why:

What employers (exceptions not withstanding) want in general is more work done by and less responsibility for their worker’s well being. They want to be able  to punish and reward  and in that sequence and they want to get rid of troublesome workers with ease and they hate people organising themselves to make a fist for better conditions. Understanding that is the  easy part!

How to achieve this without starting a revolution is what is the difficult part but they did and here is how:

They used the Switch and Bait trick every conman uses if he want something you’ve got and he wants!

First put something (relatively) innocuous in the bill you are proposing. That is the tea break part of it. So why put that in there?

Everybody I know who works has had times s/he would forgo their  coffee break or lunch because something or other needs finishing. And most people will oblige if asked to do so. Most people like to cooperate and be members of a team and if you can get your tea break later there is usually not much of a problem. A tea break is an important moment of the day for people. It gives you a change to relax a little and talk to your colleagues for a bit of human bonding  and it was guaranteed to cause a ruckus which could then be used to frame workers as small minded, lazy and uncooperative. See for some of that framing the article of Mike Hoskins I link to above.

Once you have that in place the rest, the punish and reward and easy firing become a whole lot easier because while the tea break features high in the MSM and the cafeterias of workplaces around the country not a lot else makes it out there.

So what else did they get through?

The next item on the list is the means to punish workers who, perhaps upset that their tea break is no longer guaranteed, might contemplate industrial action. It is now legal for bosses to dock peoples pay if they so much as work a tad bit slower because they are upset. That is a massively powerful tool to have at your disposal and it will affect everybody directly as wages are down and getting lower making even a $ 0.10 per hour reduction a liability.

So if you think about fighting back you now have to face a direct and tangible punishment for doing so.

So if you can’t have a break merely because your boss doesn’t want you to have one and you are upset what would be your next port of call? The Union. Think again because this law also brought in effect that there is no longer an obligation to conclude collective bargaining. Bet you did not hear about that in the MSM? So that means that if Fonterra wants to start breaking up the Union protecting their workers  all they have to do is refuse to conclude negotiations with the union representatives.

I envision the following. You systematically refuse certain workers their tea breaks. Perhaps Union reps and people with more outspoken opinions. That denies them down time with their colleagues and their ability to inform and educate people. If they get upset and become less inclined to follow orders you dock their pay. If that gets them up in arms  that is even better because other people who are not so outspoken or part of the union will get scared of what is happening to their colleagues and will move away from them to protect themselves. When time comes to negotiate you have a small group of angry people and a large group of scared people and all you have to do is say no to the demands of the angry people and the law is with you so no worries!

This is what will happen in the bigger corporate kinds of environments. 

It will destroy workers rights and will to fight for them as long as they still have something to loose but what will happen in the small businesses who don;t have much of a Union “problem”?

Until this law change was accepted there was a very important workers protection. If a boss sold a business he could only do so with the workers continuing to have their jobs. That made it harder to sell a business that wasn’t as profitable as it could be with say less workers or moved to another place. Under the current law it is very hard to fire people. The 90 day trial period made it a lot easier to weed out undesirables such as people deemed lazy or incapable of doing the job they where hired to do already and it was also used to hire and fire people in jobs where a low level of education such as MacDonald outlets etc. Rather  than keeping employees until you can’t fire them any more you just get rid of them and hire new ones. Quickly train them up in the very simple job they have to do and Bob’s your uncle.

In comes another very important law change:  Workers at small businesses are no longer guaranteed continued employment if their company is sold.

This is perhaps the most insidious law change of the lot because with this one you can circumvent every other labour law still in place!

Here are some scenarios.

  • A boss wants to sell his business but the only buyer he can find wants to move the business from the North Island to the South Island or wants to bring in his own people or wants to offshore the production leaving only a skeleton staff here.In the old system that would be very hard because what are you going to do with the workers you already hire? Now you may think that it should be a prerogative of a boss to sell to whoever he pleases but consider this: as humans we are a social animal and the work we do is part of who we are. A boss owns that business  but the “owner” can only be the owner as long as s/he has the people doing the work for him/her and the law as it stood was there to force the owner to take responsibility for  the people who helped him build up the goodwill and turnover which he now intends to sell.  With that law out of the way. The boss can break the goodwill, the customers and the business away from that responsibility and sell the business leaving the people who helped him build it to their own devices without having to offer them compensation or continued employment.
  • A business is declining and the boss needs to get rid of some people to make it profitable again and he also wants to pay less for the people he keeps.In the old system this would be very difficult as he would have to offer people compensation so they would have the finances and time to find another job again. He would probably be more inclined to find more work for his people rather than fire them to avoid the costs involved.In the new system this is what he could do: He sells the company to another (ltd) company which he started for the very purpose. He now has the right to sack all his employees. Those employees are immediately without work and income. The market being what it is will make them very vulnerable to financial ruin and they will be more inclined to take the jobs he has to offer at a lower wage. The people he doesn’t want are no longer his responsibility and  will fall in absolute financial desolation because unlike Mike Hoskins asserts no matter how hard you’re willing to work with that modicum of talent if there are no jobs to be had all that willingness comes to absolute nought!You see where I’m going with this? If you are in a job earning a wage, I don’t care whether that is in a small or big company or whether your Pakeha or Maori or whatever back ground, you have just been royally screwed up the ass by John Key and his National mates. Welcome to the race to the bottom!

~Source: https://aotearoaawiderperspective.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/on-tea-breaks-wage-docking-and-job-insecurity-john-keys-national-unleashed-the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse/#comment-50044

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