Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | July 20, 2010

You said it Jamie

With unions and lefties getting all the coverage lately, it was refreshing to see this piece from The Farming Show radio host  Jamie Mackay. “Hear hear” with capital Hs and bells on.

If you’re a good worker in a good company then you’ve nothing to fear. If you get shafted by a bad boss, do you really want to work there anyway? I did two years worth of free work experience (holidays etc) at a radio station before I got my first job. Actually in hindsight, I think the 90-day trial might have been used on me – I was useless!  But enough about me.

I’m not going to go into any more detail about the issue, because I’d rather you read what Jamie has to say.

Jamie Mckay interviewing 2009 National Bank Young Farmer of the Year Tim O'Sullivan at this year's Grand Final in Gorrrre before he interviewed me 🙂

Here’s a Facebook discussion started on the employment topic… (crikey I think I’ve just figured out how to do that without having to paste the whole addressline in….. there are words for people like me sometimes…)

Or here’s Jamie’s blog…

In a past life, before the Farming Show had its present staff of one, I used to run a couple of radio stations.

We had a staff of 10 or 12 , were generally a happy lot, and punched well above our weight revenue-wise, hence I was able to convince the Radio Network of the merits of leasing the radio stations while I had a crack at a radio show on a national stage.

So I’ve been on both sides of the employment fence.

In ten years of being an employer in a small business I learned several valuable lessons. The most important of which was, you cannot put a value on a good employee. You can’t pay them too much, you can’t tell them they’re doing a good job often enough and you certainly don’t want to count the cost to your business if they leave, or worse, go to one of your competitors.

That is why I find the attitudes of the Labour Party and the unions incredulous. No good employer will unfairly get rid of a good employee. Employers who do so, are bad employers, most probably bad people, and you wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

Employees require expense to recruit, are almost certainly expensive to train and are definitely expensive to replace. It’s a no-brainer for any savvy employer to retain them.

National’s proposed employment law changes are just plain common sense. If you don’t believe me, the very presence of the perennial professional protestors John Minto and Sue Bradford railing against them should sway you to sanity.

A 90 day trial period makes sense for both parties. An employment contract is a bit like a marriage. Most work, but more than a few don’t. An employment relationship gone bad, can be like a messy divorce – bitter, acrimonious, and expensive to get out of.

A lot of countries have a 12 month probation period, even better, because by that time both parties know whether the job is for them. And here we are moaning about 3 months. A 90 day trial period is very much the ambulance at the top of the cliff. Work hard, put your head down and your bum up and you won’t be pushed or have to jump from the clifftop.

Likewise it’s eminently sensible that employees can trade a week of their annual leave for cash. Let’s face it, if you take your four weeks annual leave, throw in ten or a dozen stat days, then you only have to work for 46 weeks of the year.

Most farmers I know probably take 1-2 weeks annual leave, often that’s all they can afford, ditto for small and medium-sized business owners.

And what’s wrong with an employee having to produce a medical certificate if they pull a sicky? If they’re genuinely ill, there’s no issue. Those who milk the system are a blight we all end up paying for.

As a farmer in the 1980s, I felt firsthand, how destructive overly-powerful unions could be. They single-handedly brought the meat industry to its knees. The biggest losers, long term, were the workers, not the farmers.

Of course there has to be protection for the down-trodden and those taken blatant advantage of. There is existing legislation in place to do so and I note the proposed employment law changes double penalties for employers not complying with the Holidays Act.

If you’re a good worker, you’ve got nothing to fear from these proposed changes. Quite the contrary, you will have more flexibility.


And then there’s the view of Federated Farmers.

I caught up with an “old” Young Farmers member when I was down in Gore last week – David Rose was, I think, chairman of Otago Southland when I was a member of Maitland and then Dunstan Young Farmers. He is now Federated Farmers national employment spokesman. This press release came on the email today with David welcoming the employment changes.


 “I think a lot of focus has been on the extension of the 90 day trial, but there’s actually quite a few changes coming through and we’re very happy with them. We’ve noted there seems to be a strong perception amongst our members of a bias against employers in personal grievance claims so it was good to see this addressed in the reforms. We told Government, in our submission to the Review of Personal Grievances, earlier this year that the emphasis needs to be on substance rather than process and we’re glad Government has listened. To do this, the law of ‘test of justifications’ will be changed so that small irregularities in process are given less emphasis than the actual substance of the claim.

 “With regard to the Holidays Act, we are also glad to see that Government has left open the option for employees to cash in their annual leave, should they wish to do this. We think this is a good decision and it will provide flexibility that will be mutually beneficial to both the employer and employee.

 “The changes will also allow employers and employees to agree to transfer a public holiday day, listed in the Holidays Act, to another day. Federated Farmers fully supports this change. Federated Farmers thinks this policy is a good idea, so long as both the employer and the employee agree to transfer the day. Farming is a 365 day a year operation and both changes under the Holidays Act will ensure that farmers and their employees have more flexibility when allocating labour hours on-farm.”



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