Press Release – New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Employment law changes will increase the likelihood of discrimination occurring in the workplace, said two representative union groups appearing before the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee today. The CTU’s youth wing “Stand …Employment law changes will increase workplace discrimination
Employment law changes will increase the likelihood of discrimination occurring in the workplace, said two representative union groups appearing before the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee today. The CTU’s youth wing “Stand Up” and the “Out at Work” group, which represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and intersex workers (GLBTI), both told the select committee that the changes to the law will increase employer power and make it harder for people who already face difficulties in the labour market.
Young workers from the CTU Stand Up committee told the Select Committee that young people are at even greater disadvantage given their inexperience, the greater inequality that they face in the employment relationship and their greater vulnerability to exploitation.
CTU Stand Up Convenor James Sleep gave the example of a 17 year old who worked for several months in a retail store who was sacked a few days prior to reaching her 90th day working for the firm. The employer gave her no reason as to why she was being dismissed. The employee worked up to that day with the understanding that she was contributing positively to the small business.
This kind of dismissal can also have negative impacts on the whole workplace. James Sleep said: “Seeing a workmate sacked for no reason negatively effects the rest of the workplace leaving them feeling insecure in their jobs and that their job might be on the line too.”
James Sleep said that the Select Committee needs to understand that the impact of changes to employment law is wide ranging, especially on people who are vulnerable. The law should provide more protection against discrimination – not less.
Karena Brown from Out at Work told the Select Committee today that workplace discrimination against gay workers is very common and that the effect of changes will be that many gay workers will feel forced to hide who are they in the first 90 days of employment.
Karena Brown said: “Despite supposed protections against race and gender discrimination in the 90 day regulations such discrimination is notoriously hard to prove and gay workers will prefer to conceal their orientation rather than take a chance when their employment is so precarious thanks to the ‘fire at will’ clause. In effect they are being forced back into the closet which will only serve to reinforce prejudice against gay people in the workplace.”
“And while hiding your sexual orientation might not be acceptable it is easier for some more than others, such as people who have changed their gender. The fundamental issue for us is that people shouldn’t have to hide who they are to get a job.”