Monthly Archives: August 2012

We Need to Build a Trap so We can Catch all the Robbers

Take note John, stop blowing all the money on couches. These kids ought to be running the show..

What do Lawyers do?  ” They lock people up and say NO NO NO “, Why do they lock them up?  “Because they don’t like them” What happens then? “They get rich so they can buy shoes How much money? “About 3 dollars”.  Katelyn (6) and Nessie (3).

We’re clearly in the right business, there’s nothing like a good pair of shoes.

TESSA KATE HOGG 29/08/2012

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Changes on the Horizon

Employment law changes are afoot… Recently, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson announced a number of changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA), particularly with regards to collective agreements; the secret ballot member’s Bill also received the Royal assent on 14 May. The nuts and bolts of both are outlined below.

Secret Ballots for Strikes

Full name “Employment Relations (Workers’ Secret Ballot for Strikes) Amendment Bill 2010

  • WHO – Unions and their members of essential and non-essential industries.
  • WHAT– passed by Parliament by one vote, will require a secret ballot before a strike action can take place. A simple majority (of those entitled to vote who do vote) must agree to strike. If not it will be an unlawful strike under s86.
  • UNLESS- a strike on health and safety grounds (lawful under s84)
  • WHEN- 12 month lead in time
  • WHY-  to ensure that a strike is the actually wanted by  a majority of the union members

Extension of Flexible Hours

  • Currently the right to request flexible working hours only available to caregivers, and only then after six months of employment.
  • Wilkinson proposes “ extending the right to request flexible working arrangements to all workers, right from their first day on the job”

Removing the “30 day rule”

  •  Currently employers must automatically place new employees under the terms of any applicable collective agreement for the first 30 days of employment.
  • WHY? Employers with collective agreements will be able to bargain with/ offer new (non-union member) employees their standard individual employment agreement at the start of employment. Arguably, this new possibilities with trial periods, which have previously been difficult as after 30 days a new employee is no longer “new” under the legislation and therefore cannot be placed on trial period.

Mandatory Notice of Strike/ Lock out

  • Currently – written notice of a strike or lockout is only required where “essential services” are involved.
  • WHAT- Unions and employers of all industries will have to provide notice.
  • WHY? More details will be provided in respect of the period of notice required etc but most likely aimed at “lightning strikes” without any/much prior notice.

Employers can opt out of MECA negotiations

  • WHAT “multi-employer collective agreements” s31
  • Currently employers are required to bargain with competitors and competitors’ employees when bargaining for a MECA.

Removal of the requirement to conclude bargaining

  • Currently As part of the requirement of “good faith” Employers are required (Under s33)  to conclude bargaining unless there is a “genuine reason” to not do so.
  • WHAT This proposed will repeal amendments made in 2004, while good faith remains, requirement to conclude will not.
  • This has been controversial as many have questioned at what point ‘good faith’ will be deemed to be discharged.

Allowing Partial Pay Reductions for Partial Strikes

  • WHAT Currently, union members can ‘partially strike’ ‘go slow’ eg not answer emails/ calls yet maintain full-pay
  • WHY Reduce the incidence of tactical ‘partial striking’ causing disturbance without any individual loss. In such situations, employers have wondered whether they can deduct partial pay it is hoped that this will reduce confusion and align NZ law with other jurisdictions.

Taking away Unions 20 days “Head-Start”

  •  WHAT- Employers will be able to initiate bargaining at the same time as unions
  • Currently  Employers cannot start bargaining until 40 days before expiry of the CEA whereas unions are entitled to start 60 days before expiry, effectively giving unions a 20 day “headstart” when initiating collective bargaining.


See press releases below :

TESSA KATE HOGG 28/08/2012

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Sex and the Site: Wolf Whistling Workers

TESSA KATE HOGG 21/08/2012

Ahh the wolf whistle. The mating call of tradies. It’s as kiwi as a late night pie, sausage sizzle fundraisers, mint sauce with your Sunday roast. That bit of cheeky banter as you bypass the building site may not be new, but it seems some construction companies are taking it seriously and likely lads are being told to button it or risk their jobs.

The wolf whistle has been under the media spotlight recently both home and abroad. In the US, a construction billboard caused a stir which lead to online petition, an official statement of apology and the removal of the sign. The sign had read: “We apologize for the whistling construction workers, but man you look good!”

Here in Godzone, according to Beck Eleven of the Sunday Star Times, workers are turning to code to get away with their antics following warnings from employers. While there might not be “thou shalt not wolf whistle” paragraphs in their employment contracts, employers like Peter Lockhart of Naylor Love (fantastic name) were cracking down on the practice, “we just don’t tolerate it”.

Wolves get a bit of a bad rep; destined to be the baddie in all Disney stories, they’re always hungry and can’t be too picky about when the next meal comes along. Apparently it all started when naval lads needed to alert each other to on-shore eye candy. The whistler sounded approval; they were hungry… like the wolf. But things have really come on since those days…

It’s not just women that get the whistle treatment.  Boats, BBQs, boy’s toys, anything sufficiently desirable to the kiwi bloke might make the cut. The wolf whistle has also proven a favourite call of the cougar when showing her approval of a new stud in the environment.

These days it might not be a whistle per se, “we might yell out one of the guy’s names or number, it’s more about getting the girl to look and embarrassing the other guys”. But the appreciation of a good looking (l)ass is ingrained in the culture says Wellington builder Mick: “we would probably all flock to the window, it’s a bloke’s world, but it’s not meant to be offensive, most girls would know it’s pretty harmless”.

It does seem that there is many a fan of the innocent banter. Rather than take offense, one Wellington professional commented: “I think it’s great. There’s a certain age where it’s flattering, like being asked for ID at the supermarket”. She’s not alone; according to a recent UK survey 8 of 10 women enjoy being paid a compliment, even if it is from a stranger.

This guy might not draw too many complaints from his targets..

However, it does seem to come down to whether it’s cheeky or creepy, “there’s a fine line” says Victoria University student Grace Blanks. “It depends on the guy and the situation. But if you walk past a building site, it’s meant to be a bit funny, a bit appreciative, it’s meant to be a compliment”. Wellington receptionist Caitlin MacMurray agrees: “it depends, if I can see them and they look around my age, and cheeky then it’s alright”. Another noted: “there is definitely a difference between the nice way and a nasty way though.”

Despite the advocates, it seems the wolf whistle may have had its day. Back in 2008, UK’s leading building firm Wimpey banned all workers from whistling, claiming it was outdated and off-putting to the  “savvy and sophisticated” female house-hunter. All name jokes aside, it seems Kiwi employers are following Wimpey’s lead and even if it’s not explicitly said, workers like Mick are showing (some) self-restraint in their pursuit of the babe on the street: “you wouldn’t yell anything crude, as far as I know there’s no policy against it but it is common sense.. you’re working on sites with the construction company’s name all over it, you wouldn’t put the companies name in jeopardy.”

The line the employer takes on this matter depends on how they want to be seen. According to employment law expert Barbara Buckett: “there’s a presumption on a construction site that you are a certain type of worker, a red blooded kiwi bloke – the work force is changing though and many employers might want to get away from this.” She notes that: “sometimes it can look unprofessional, other times it’s all in good humour”.

There is no doubt this behaviour is deeply ingrained in the culture, “it stems from the top, if the culture is there then it’s more likely that often the lads will be influenced by management” says Barbara. So the first port of call is having a good look at the culture on site. Then it pays to have your policy and employment agreements as clear as possible. While there may be nothing wrong with the odd whistle, it can be one of those floodgate situations where allowing wolf-whistling opens the gates to much worse.  Buckett Law’s policy kits might be just the ticket to get your lads in line. Whether you’re dealing with a wolf pack or a lone wolf, sex and the construction site, it’s an explosive combination.

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