Strike rights threatened

Mike Kay

A Private Member’s Bill introduced by the National Party MP Tau Henare has been drawn from the ballot to be debated in Parliament. The Bill proposes to amend the Employment Relations Act as follows:

“A strike may not proceed under this Act, unless the question has been submitted to a secret ballot of those employees who are members of the union that would become parties to the strike if it proceeded.”

The Council of Trade Unions has announced its “support in principle” for the bill, “as it largely reflects current practice.”

The British experience may be of some use in analysing the effect of secret ballots. Over there, the law has required a secret ballot prior to strike action for nearly 30 years. I asked an official with the Postal section of the Communication Workers Union his opinion on the issue. This is his response: [Read more…]

A step forward

from The Spark March 2009

Finally, nearly a decade into the 21st century women will be legally entitled to breastfeeding breaks at work. From 1 April employers will have to allow women this right and provide a suitable space.  The breaks are unpaid – unless otherwise agreed – so breastfeeding women will be penalised by loss of wages or having to extend their hours at work.

On its own the law may not deliver much of an improvement for women trying to juggle work and childcare. Few workplaces have childcare facilities, and few are very family friendly.

Despite these shortcomings, allowing breastfeeding at work is a step towards recognising the needs of working mothers.