It’s been a busy post-Election period for NZALPA and we’ve been both approached and reached out to the new Government in regard to employment relations changes to the current legislation. We’re also hoping to meet with both the Minister of Transport, Hon Phil Twyford, and the newly-appointed Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, in the coming weeks.
Employment relations are a key part of the new sixth Labour-led Government and members will be aware of their intention to introduce legislative and regulatory employment law changes as part of the ‘100 Day’ action plan, in order to “improve fairness in the workplace.”
We support improvements to the Employment Relations Act and, of particular importance to NZALPA, will be the following four priority areas:
- Restoring the right to rest and meal breaks at work.
- Restoring reinstatement of employment as the primary remedy when an employee has been unjustifiably dismissed.
- Reviewing the current 90-day limit for raising a personal grievance. NZALPA would like to see this extended to 24 months and a restoration of the common law proceeding of wrongful dismissal.
- The high performance and high engagement model of industrial relations. In our experience, when undertaken correctly, with genuine commitment and proper resourcing, we have seen it can be successful and produce results that benefit our members.
Given NZALPA’s raft of experience and expertise in this area, we’re also looking forward to advising the new Government on a number of related issues and providing our recommendations.
One of these would be improving the skills and training for mediators, particularly in rational problem solving and alternative dispute resolution techniques. We’ll also be recommending a fairer and more transparent appointment process of Authority members to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
Another important recommended change would be the removal of the default requirement for the ERA to give its determination or preliminary findings orally immediately at the conclusion of an investigation meeting. This would mitigate the risk of errors being made in what can often be unique and/or technical aviation matters.
We’d also like to see increased paid time off for union representatives to do their necessary union work and the ability of unions to issue improvement notices in relation to breaches of collective employment agreements, similar to the powers of health and safety representatives under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
On NZALPA’s list is also a review of the Holidays Act, including clarification regarding the nominating and reorganising of public holidays. This is particularly important for a 24/7 industry such as aviation whereby employees’ lives are dictated by rosters over which they have limited or no control, impacting the availability of quality time off with family and friends. Of course, it almost goes without saying that rest in the aviation industry is particularly important – not just for the health and welfare of our members, but also for the wider safety of the travelling public.
Recognising global as well as local concerns about the proliferation of ‘atypical employment’ models, NZALPA will be advocating changes to New Zealand employment legislation that guards against ‘atypical’, bogus, and secondary employment contracts we’ve seen overseas that clearly undermine employment security and safety standards.
As we say goodbye to a year that seems to have gone by at a rapid rate of knots, my thanks go to the dedicated, hardworking and professional staff at NZALPA, who are always a privilege to work with.
For all those fortunate to be taking a break over the festive season, keep safe and enjoy the time with your friends and loved ones.