Kieran McAnulty addresses Parliament. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

A private members’ bill fronted by Wairarapa’s Labour list MP Kieran McAnulty has passed another step towards becoming law but only after a somewhat laboured debate in Parliament designed to delay the
euthanasia bill.

The Employment Relations [Triangular Employment] Amendment Bill passed the full committee stage in Parliament on Wednesday and now needs to get through a third reading, which is likely, to become law.

The bill gives employees of labour hire firms the right to take a personal grievance against employers they are placed with.

McAnulty took the bill over from former Labour MP Darien Fenton, a stalwart of the union movement.

In Wednesday’s private members’ bill debate he gave the example of a female employee who worked for a third-party employer for seven years who was dismissed the next day after she found out she was pregnant.

“What we say is that in any circumstance when an employee is unfairly dismissed – be it the extreme of the one that I have just given or any small example where a worker is treated poorly – they should have the recourse to a personal grievance that the rest of us enjoy,” he said.

McAnulty says he has met Wairarapa employers who use labour hire companies to discuss the bill. It is not directed at them, as they work constructively with unions and generally use labour hire firms when they have extra work on.

He says the bill is directed at employers in big cities who used labour hire firms all the time and take advantage of a loophole in the law to get rid of individuals.

The debate was long and featured several lessons in economics from ACT NZ Leader David Seymour, while National MPs argued the bill is not needed and also was different from the one first presented.

DefendNZ on Friday accused Seymour of a filibuster to prevent his End of Life Choice Bill from having a second reading on Wednesday.

They say he worked hard to slow down proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday night “with frivolous speeches on unrelated matters” – in what was seemingly an attempt to delay his End of Life Choice Bill from beginning its second reading.

McAnulty said there was a filibuster on Wednesday night because MPs did not want the euthanasia bill to have a truncated debate. The next time in Parliament for debate on private members’ bills is a month away so if the debate on Seymour’s bill had started Wednesday it would not have resumed for a month.

McAnulty said his triangular employment bill had once sought to include employees working for labour hire firms in the collective arrangements in the workplaces they found themselves in.

“What we found in the select committee process was that those submitters that turned up to select committee had an issue with this particular part of this bill, and not necessarily the personal grievance part of the bill, and we took that on board. We said, ‘Okeydokes. We hear what you have to say. We will amend the bill accordingly’.”

National’s Scott Simpson said McAnulty’s bill was “nothing like the bill that was introduced and first drafted by that trade union stalwart, who came from the trade unions, did her compulsory parliamentary service here in the Labour Party, and then returned to the trade union movement: Darien Fenton.”

He said McAnulty “picked this up – probably without reading it – signed it off, and then found that it was drawn from the ballot, and then it went to select committee, and it was found wanting in every single regard.”

Seymour rose to say, “I thought that Scott Simpson’s attack on Darien Fenton was scurrilous, and possibly even bordered on bullying.”

Labour MP Clare Curran said McAnulty’s bill allowed workers simply to apply to the Employment Relations Authority to have their host employer joined to a personal grievance.

The bill passed with support from NZ First and the Greens but not from National or ACT.