Some businesses won’t survive

May 14, 2018

Government changes to employment law will undermine flexibility and goodwill, Federated Farmers says.

Feds Dairy chair Chris Lewis said the 90-day trial provisions are highly valued by farmers as a means of giving them confidence to take on staff when the potential applicant has no experience, or a history of anti-social behaviour or poor job performance.

“Anyone can turn over a new leaf but without the security of the 90-day trial business owners can end up paying the cost of giving someone a chance.”

Recruiting, inducting and training new staff is an expensive and time-consuming business.

Employers want to get it right the first time but try as they might, that doesn’t always happen. The 90-day trial period reduces the risk should a new employee be the wrong choice.


Most farmers employ only a handful of staff but the Federation’s submission said it would be “unfortunate” if this option is removed for larger companies “because it is exactly those businesses that can afford to put resources into extra training and support for those who need it”.

The Federation’s farmer members do not have a hire/fire mentality, Chris told the committee. Many find it hard to attract staff to remote areas, and work hard to bring along employees who have the right attitude.

The Federation’s employment contracts are industry-leading, and farmers make use of an 0800 service and peer-to-peer advice, as they strive to be fair employers moving staff along a career pathway.

When a businesses get good employees it’s in everyone’s interest to do everything possible to keep them and keep them happy.

But if they can’t, or won’t, do their jobs or are simply a bad fit for the business and other employees, it’s better for everyone if they go.

The Federation’s submission said too many clauses in the Bill pit employer and employee against one another rather than facilitating an environment for negotiation and agreement.

 For example, farmers had no quibble that employees are entitled to paid rest and meal breaks but proposed amendments say that unless employer and employee agree an alternative in advance, such breaks must be taken at times set out in the Bill.

This is “unduly restrictive,” Chris said, because unexpected situations can arise on the farm.

 “If a cow requires attention during calving, or there is an urgency to finish harvest before rain sets in, it is reasonable for an employer to ask that an employee works on for a reasonable amount of time, and recoups their entitlement elsewhere.”

Tired and hungry staff don’t work well and can be dangerous, but in farming, and many other businesses, it is not always practical to stop work at prescribed times.

Farmers have no objection to employees joining a union or any other association, but current provisions in the Act requiring union representatives to obtain the permission of the business owner before entering the workplace should be kept.

“These farm properties are our homes,” Chris said.

The proposed law would allow union officials to wander into farmhouses without notice.

This is an abuse of private property.

On top of that farmers are being bombarded with messages to treat their property as a fortress because of biosecurity risks – most recently the devastating cow disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Health and Safety is another reason why visitors should be briefed and escorted into work areas. “Given the hazards on farm, the presence of an individual who is in what could be a very large area without the knowledge or permission of anyone else on the farm is extremely dangerous.”

It’s not only businesses which benefit from flexibility in the workplace, workers do too.

Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope also has serious concerns about the proposals, which might be good for unions but not workers:

Here’s a simple example. If you are a working parent who needs to leave work at 3pm to pick up the kids, and the collective agreement says your hours of work must be 9-5, and if you haven’t opted out, you will need to negotiate with both the union and your employer to be able to pick up your kids. This is onerous and unnecessary.

Fourth, the legislation would compel employers to provide personal information about a new employee to a union. Given the recent furore around Facebook’s use of personal information for marketing purposes, I doubt if many would see it as fair and reasonable for legislation to compel your employer to provide your information to any third party, no matter who they are.

These are only a few of the issues. Currently unionisation in the private sector is around 12 per cent. As with any other business, adaptation and innovation is important for unions’ survival. Legislating to protect a marketing base for membership won’t help unions to adapt, innovate and survive.  

What the legislation will do is undermine trust by testing the boundaries of what most New Zealanders think as fair.

Business concerns won’t be allayed by the interview with Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway on Q&A yesterday when he said  that some businesses would not be able to operate under  the government’s plans.

It’s not just business owners who suffer if their businesses collapse, it’s also the workers, who Labour purports to support.


Some are ‘pretty damned hlopeless’

April 14, 2016

Finance Minister Bill English has been criticised for telling the truth – some job seekers are pretty damned hopeless:

Finance Minister Bill English is not backing down from his comments that some Kiwis hunting for work are “pretty damned hopeless” and “can’t read and write properly”.

At a Federated Farmers meeting in Feilding last week English said there was a “cohort of Kiwis now” who couldn’t get a licence because they were illiterate and “don’t look to be employable”.

His comments were directed at “young males” who didn’t turn up to work or didn’t stay on when offered a job. . . 

English says those comments were supported by what the Government heard from dozens of New Zealand employers.

“…many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered”.

He said that was a “realistic description of the problems we are dealing with” and if Lees-Galloway couldn’t handle that, then “he is out of touch”. . . 

This is indeed a realistic description of the problem.

A few years ago we were trying to employ people from overseas and were told the local WINZ office had job seekers who could do the job.

Our office manager and I went in to the office to see if there was anyone suitable. There wasn’t.

I said to the WINZ staff member that, given there was a shortage of farm workers, people on her books were unlikely to be anyone we’d want to employ. She agreed with me and signed the form enabling us to employ the overseas worker.

The young people the Minister referred to may well have had dreadful upbringings, little or no family support, changed school often, poor literacy and numeracy, no driver’s licence, no work ethic, and/or problems with alcohol and drugs.

That is a significant problem for them and society at large but employers who need someone to do a job safely and well are very unlikely to risk employing them.

What government and its agencies, NGOs and businesses can and ought to do about the problem might be debatable but that this is the problem is not.

Update:

The Hansard transcript of the questions and answers shows not only is the government aware of the problem it is doing something about it:

Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by the statements made to a meeting of Federated Farmers that there is “a cohort of Kiwis who now can’t get a licence because they can’t read and write properly and don’t look to be employable—you know, basically, young males” and that a lot of Kiwis available for work are, in his words, “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I welcomed the presence of the member who strode to the front of the Federated Farmers meeting and sat there showing complete attention to everything I said, for about 20 minutes.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Does he stand by his statement that one of the reasons why immigration is “a bit more permissive” is that, in his words, Kiwis are “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think the member is mixing a couple of different statements there. I referred to the common—[Interruption] Well, the Government is at the sharp edge of this every day, and I referred to the common response from New Zealand employers that many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered. If the member has not heard that from dozens of New Zealand employers, he is out of touch.

Iain Lees-Galloway: Why, after 8 years of the National Government, has he written off a whole cohort of young men as unemployable because they cannot read or write properly, and what message does it send young New Zealand men that they need to be replaced by migrant workers because, in his words, they are “pretty damned hopeless”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has certainly not written anybody off. In fact, we have poured hundreds of millions into raising the level of educational achievement, job training for young New Zealanders, and individual supervision for every sole parent under the age of 20. Labour left young New Zealanders in such bad shape that even with that investment we still have so much more to do. And if the member cannot handle a realistic description of the problems we are dealing with, then he is out of touch.

Lees-Galloway probably thought he’d land a hit on the Minister.

All he’s done is shown he doesn’t recognise the problem and is out of touch not only with employers but most other people who recognise there is a problem.


Hyprocisy alert

October 2, 2013

Labour wants ACC cuts to take effect immediately.

I have no doubt people will agree when they work out that would increase their take home pay.

However, spot the irony:

Opposition ACC spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said the corporation’s big surplus was gouged from the pay packets of hard working New Zealanders.

This is a spokesman from Labour, the party that contributed to ACC’s financial liabilities by adding more categories of beneficiaries without increasing funding sufficiently.

His party has fought tax cuts which leave more in the pay packets of hard working New Zealanders.

And his party is going to increase taxes to gouge more from those same pay packets of the same hard working New Zealanders and add a Capital Gains Tax too.

That’s not irony, that’s hypocrisy.

 


If satirists were choosing the leader

September 1, 2013

Imperator Fish thinks David Cunliffe should be the next Labour leader.

I thought that was a genuine view as a member of the party.

But he’s also got a gift for satire and Steve Braunias’ Secret Diary of David Cunliffe made me wonder.

MONDAY

Hallelujah! A new day. A new day for New Zealand. A new day for New Zealand in a new way, and it only added to the excitement when I cut myself shaving with a new razor. I sent out a press release. A crowd gathered. They watched me bleed for New Zealand.

When they left, I got busy. There was a job of work at hand. I bent my head to the task. I applied a dab of Endymoion cologne (a sensual fusion of citrus, spices and leather, $225), ran a Kent switchblade comb (handmade from sawcut resin, $35) though my hair, and looked at my reflection in a pair of Joseph Cheaney shoes (oak bark soles, $895). I liked what I saw.

That left five minutes to kill before the press conference announcing my bid to lead the Labour Party, so I analysed the latest Treasury reports, studied the economic situation in Japan, Ghana, and Sweden, and ironed my Marcoliani socks (cashmere, $117).

The conference went well. A crowd gathered. I felt at peace.

TUESDAY

. . . Met with my own troops. Looked them up and down. Didn’t want to look too closely. Nanaia Mahuta. Louisa Wall. William Sio. Sue Moroney. Someone called Iain Lees-Galloway.

Oh well. It could be worse. Maybe. . .

THURSDAY

Mike Hosking has come out in support of Grant Robertson, and so has Titewhai Harawira.

Poor old Grant. No one deserves that. . .

Just as cartoonists favour certain politicians whose faces lend themselves to caricature, satirists might be biased towards those who make their work easy.

On that basis, if satirists were choosing the leader I think they’d opt for Cunliffe.


Rural round-up

January 11, 2013

Labour spokesperson’s quad confusion gets it sort of right:

Federated Farmers welcomes the belated support of Labour to reclassify quad bikes as agricultural vehicles, given the Federation has lobbied for this change.

“While we welcome Labour’s change of heart, it is a shame it did not come when Federated Farmers submitted for quad bikes to be reclassified as agricultural vehicles,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Transport spokesperson.

“Unfortunately for Iain Lees-Galloway, Labour’s Transport Safety spokesperson, he doesn’t seem to know that quad bikes

Gisborne Milk Co-op survival bid washed away by Fonterra ‘perfect storm’

Gisborne Milk Co-op survival bid washed away by Fonterra ‘perfect storm’ – Paul McBeth:

Gisborne Milk Co-op, the 66-year-old Bay of Plenty dairy supplier in liquidation, has lost a last-ditch bid to get back shares and supply arrangements with Fonterra Cooperative Group.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Rebecca Ellis turned down Gisborne Milk’s claim that Fonterra breached its empowering legislation, saying the Bay of Plenty firm made its own commercial decisions to surrender shares in the cooperative. The Dec. 17 judgment was published on the Justice Ministry’s website this week.

“It is difficult not to think of the shareholders Gisborne Milk as sailors caught in a perfect storm,” Justice Ellis said. “It is impossible not to have considerable sympathy for them. But none of their claims can succeed.” . .

are not and have never been classed as an agricultural vehicle. They are in fact classed as an ‘all-terrain vehicle.’ . . .

nternet paves way for southern merchants – Tim Fulton:

The days of wool merchants operating like “rag and bone men” have given way to flexible, efficient trading online, a large Canterbury operator says.

As a shed-buyer Mainland Wool is comfortable handling loads from one bale to 1000, using the Wool Online system to keep cost to a minimum.

The five-year-old company has become the biggest wool merchant in the South Island and is convinced of the value in electronic sales, which have become a fixture for southern operators.

One of Mainland’s three owner-operators, Dean Harrison, said online sales were ideal for them as an alternative to auction centres like Christchurch and Napier. . .

Satara boss Wilson takes final jab at Zespri fees in outgoing update – Paul McBeth:

Departing Satara Cooperative Group boss Tom Wilson has taken a stab at Zespri International’s brokerage fees at the expense of growers in his last update to shareholders.

The Te Puke-based kiwifruit and avocado grower is still in talks with Zespri, which controls the nation’s kiwifruit exports, over its 6% brokerage rate on gross sale proceeds and 6% of FOB sales, which Wilson says is costing growers between $60 million and $140 million every year.

“I continue to be amazed at the politics, patch protection and commercial arrogance that prevents this money going to growers – this should have been sorted years ago,” Wilson said. . .

‘Green’ Americans underpin price of beef – Jonathan Underhill:

It is possible to be too cute about cause and effect, but America’s determination to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster its fuel security ultimately benefits New Zealand beef farmers.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which contains the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard known as RFS2, calls for 36 billion gallons of biofuels to be added to America’s transport fuel supply (excluding jet fuel) by 2022 from a target of 16.55 billion gallons in 2013.

Of the 2022 target, the amount from corn starch-derived ethanol is capped at 15 billion gallons. The drive for mandatory minimum volumes of biofuels began in 2005 and was a shot in the arm for corn growers. Ethanol from sugar cane and biodiesel from soy are also recognised by the Environmental Protection Agency which administers RFS2. . .

Top International Wine Media Eagerly Anticipating Nelson International Aromatics Symposium:

A select group of the world’s most influential wine commentators will be descending on the small country village of Upper Moutere, near Nelson in early February to taste, compare and discuss Aromatic wines.

They include internationally recognised wine experts Matthew Jukes and Jamie Goode from the UK, David Lawrason from Canada, Alder Yarrow and Jordan McKay from the USA, Cees van Casteren and Cuno Van’t Hoff from the Netherlands, Felicity Carter from Germany and Jan Arrnhenius and Jan Peterson from Sweden alongside some of New Zealand’s top wine commentators. . .

Demand Lifts Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island first wool auction for 2013 resulted in a strong market based on recent increased buying interest particularly from China.

Of the 21,900 bales on offer, 90 percent of the offering sold. The weighted indicator for the main trading currency compared to the last sale on 19th December was practically unchanged, lifting only 0.05 percent and having no impact on prices. . .

The ANZ Contest is heating up:

The District Finals are completed, the Regional Finalists have been found, and the anticipation is building because the next phase of ANZ Young Farmer Contest is about to begin. The ANZ Young Farmer Contest, now in its 45th year, is New Zealand’s Ultimate Rural Challenge, inspiring excellence, showcasing innovation and growing human capabilities.

District Finals are the entry level for the Contest and over 300 New Zealand Young Farmer members from throughout the country entered in one of 23 District Finals held in the last few months of 2012.

Each District Final was organised and run by a team of local volunteers. . . .

Beef + Lamb NZ has a competition to win dinner with the three Iron Maidens here.

And from Medical Humour:

Photo


MP scores own-goal

April 17, 2011

Sitting MPs ought to be out and about in their communities and in the media just doing their jobs which puts them in front of the public without the need to be deliberately campaigning.

It’s much harder for a new candidate who has the challenge of getting known without these free opportunities.

How silly then was the Palmerston North MP to give his rival, National Party candidate free publicity, and publicity in which he came off second best at that?

The first shots have been fired in the battle to win Palmerston North at this year’s general election, with National candidate Leonie Hapeta accusing Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway of practising “nasty politics”.

Mr Lees-Galloway and about 15 supporters gathered outside Mrs Hapeta’s Hotel Coachman about 5pm on Monday – protesting against the Government’s plans to sell state-owned assets.

Mrs Hapeta said she felt attacked by the protesters, who held signs and waved at vehicles on both sides of Fitzherbert Ave.

“Having not met Iain since I became the candidate, I went out to introduce myself, and ask him why he was attacking my business, rather than holding the protest outside my campaign office,” she said.

The National campaign office will be based inside the old GQ Clothing building on Broadway Ave, but has not yet opened.

“He was not able to answer this simple question, and seemed quite surprised I was willing to talk civilly to him rather than yell abuse at him.”

But Mr Lees-Galloway, who is Labour’s Defence and Land Information spokesman, said the location was chosen by his Young Labour supporters because of the heavy traffic flow.

“There was no intention to target Leonie’s business and it hadn’t even crossed my mind,” he said.

“Yeah, when I got there I thought: `OK we’re outside the Coachman’ but it was no plan on my part.”

If he didn’t know it’s her business he’s failed to do his homework and it’s lost him the first round.

Hapeta 1 – Lees-Galloway 0 as the result of an own-goal.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog


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