Vulnerable workers will lose legal job protection as the Government pushes ahead with vocational reforms which bypass the Employment Relations Act, National’s spokesperson for Tertiary Education Dr Shane Reti says.

“The Education (Vocational Education Reform) Bill passed its first reading today and is even more damaging than expected.

“Minister Hipkins has written into the Bill that Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act, which protects vulnerable workers from losing their jobs when an entity is reconfigured, will be overridden. When questioned in Parliament on this, the Minister confirmed ‘they’d be made redundant’.

“Cleaners, food workers and laundry staff have been shafted and will be amongst the thousands to lose jobs under this nasty ideological restructure.

“The biggest vocational upheaval in 30 years will see 16 polytechnics condensed into one mega-polytechnic resulting in the loss of 18,000 learners, 2,300 apprentices and a loss of autonomy for all organisations involved.

“The Minister has put logic to one side as he takes an axe to the system. The facts are that while polytechnic numbers have gone down, apprentices and learners in the vocational system have gone up over the past five years.

“Hard earned assets from local polytechs will be hoovered up by the mega-polytechnic and successful institutions such as SIT and Otago will be punished in the restructure, rather than lessons being learnt from their achievements.

“If elected, National would return assets taken by this Government back to local people and return local decision making back to local polytechnics. We appreciate changes need to be made to ensure we have a world class system, but this lazy centralised approach is not the answer.

“National will fight for local autonomy in these ideological reforms.”

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