Department of Labour – Employer and Employee earthquake information updated.

The Department of Labour has updated it’s earthquake information for Christchurch businesses in light of what was learnt from the February 22nd earthquake. A wide range of information is covered in a question and answer format (here). The general categories and questions are listed below.

In addition the page contains links to Factsheets, FAQs and other government departments where the information is covered in more detail.

Over-arching advice – health and safety

  • A basic checklist of things you should consider before you open your workplace door
  • If you don’t have the expertise to check critical factors (listed on the website) get an expert in to assist you
  • Recognise that the RIGHT DECISION is the SAFE DECISION
  • Make yourself aware of any requirements of the authorities (Police, Civil Defence, regional and local authorities etc) and act in accordance with those requirements
  • As a business owner or manager, the Health and Safety in Employment Act requires you to provide a safe workplace for your employees, contractors you might engage and others who might be entering your premises, eg shoppers
  • Employees also have a responsibility to ensure their own safety

Over-arching advice – employment relations matters

  • The key is communication.
  • Be flexible.
  • Work together to find practical solutions
  • Recognise that this has been a significant event
  • An individual employee has the right to refuse to do work they consider unsafe.

Additional Information

  • Who decides if workers have to go to work if it is open?
  • If a staff member needs to stay home to look after their family – how does that work?
  • Whose responsibility is it to ensure the workplace is safe?
  • What if it is my work day, and work is closed. Do I get paid? I can’t get into work today for good reason. Do I get paid? Work was closed yesterday. Do I get paid for that day?
  • If an employee has concerns they feel are not being resolved, what should they do?
  • If an employer has concerns that are not being resolved, what should they do?
  • What if no agreement can be reached?
  • Does an employer have the right to require workers to go to work and help with clean up?
  • What safety gear should be used in clean up?
  • How should concern about gas or chemicals in the workplace be dealt with?

All this is here.

Retraining for prisoners

The Minister of Corrections, Judith Collins, has announced a programme for retraining prisoners “… to help meet the demand for these skills in the Christchurch recovery.”

The following is from the media release:

“The second Christchurch earthquake has generated a huge demand for trade skills as the rebuild gets underway. To meet this demand, the Department of Corrections will be ramping up trade training in the areas of highest demand,” Ms Collins said.

“Over the next 12 months, between 130 and 160 new training placements in specific trades will be provided at Christchurch Men’s Prison.

“Three new training workshops will also be established in the low security area of the prison, which will deliver courses in painting, plastering, plumbing, drain laying and gas welding.

“Existing carpentry and joinery skills for house building and refurbishment training will also be expanded.

“The training workshops will be operational by late October and the first group of prisoners will be completing NZQA qualifications in the New Year.”

Very meritorious I’m sure. What, however, about the many thousands of workers who have lost jobs, or will do so in the next few weeks? It would be good to hear of training workshops, courses, and industry qualifications for those who are not in prison. At the moment the reward and punishment system seems to be upside down.

The full press release is here.

CTU – information for workers

The CTU website has a page with information for Christchurch workers affected by the earthquake. Some of the information is specific to the period immediately after the 22nd of February, while the rest relates to now and the future. There are 10 earthquake and employment FAQ’s on the page, which can be found here.

Yesterday the CTU announced a programme called Together. The following is from their news page:

Together is a new organisation established and run by the unions affiliated to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions. Together aims to connect workers in un-unionised work places with the union movement and the union experience. Membership, costing just $1 per week ($52 per year), gives employees and contractors, in industries and locations without union support, access to help and expert advice.

Together also offers family/whanau membership giving the opportunity for current union members to join up as many of their family and whanau as they want for just $1 per week. Family/whanau membership makes their family part of the union family and gives them the values and benefits union members share.

The full news item can be found here.

Canterbury Job Matcher

The government has a website for matching people’s skills with job vacancies. It is part of the government’s own careers website, but specifically for job seekers in Canterbury.

The site has a hint of the “What colour is your parachute” book, written for those dead-ended in jobs, or unemployed, and trying to sort out what else they could try (if that doesn’t ring any bells, don’t worry).  The advantage of the web site is that it matches your characteristics with jobs currently available.

It is simplistic, and there aren’t many jobs on some parts of it yet, but give it a go (more than once). If enough people try it out that will encourage those behind the scheme, and those employers contemplating listing vacancies. You can find it here.