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CTU cites cases of unfair dismissal

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Helen Kelly
Helen Kelly

Feds pse Q for 0400

Wellington, July 20 NZPA - Unions say more and more cases of unfair dismissal are being reported as people realise the 90-day probation period is going to be extended to cover all workers.

"Employers are being named, and should be ashamed, of using and supporting a law that sanctions unfair dismissal of workers with no right of appeal," Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said last night.

"Kiwis are fair-minded -- they know that if a worker is unfairly dismissed they should have the right to appeal.

"The Government is removing that right from hundreds of thousands of workers."

The 90-day probation period for new employees, when they can't claim unfair dismissal, currently covers businesses with 19 or fewer employees.

Prime Minister John Key announced on Sunday it is going to be extended to cover all businesses because it helped people get jobs.

Ms Kelly cited two cases which have been reported by newspapers -- a woman who was sacked by auctioneers Dunbar Sloane two weeks after starting the job, with no reason given, and another fired by Take Note Stationery in Waikanae five minutes before the end of her 90th day.

She said the CTU had taken up 10 cases and some of the workers involved did not want to go public for fear they wouldn't get another job.

"More and more cases are coming to light every day as the public reacts to news that the Government wants to extend the 90-day law to all workers," she said.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday unions were hyping up the issue and workers could not be sacked without reason under the 90-day law.

"You can say it didn't work out, but you have to say why it didn't work out," he said.

"I don't think the average New Zealand workplace represents some sort of war zone -- I can't rule out there being the odd employer who will abuse the system, just like there will be the odd union representative who will abuse the system."

Mr Key said the changes were fair and reasonable, and comparable countries had probation periods much longer than 90 days.

In Britain employees could not normally make a complaint of unfair dismissal until they had completed 12 months of continuous employment, and the situation was similar in Australia.

"This has been in place for a year, and it has not been a matter of great contention," he said.

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