Decent Work agenda necessitates that all employers must respect the fundamental rights of the employees as well as their human rights based on the working condition safety and remuneration. The decision of the French court to find the French executive of the telecommunication giant guilty of creating corporate culture that was so toxic to their employees represents the agenda of the Decent Work. It is the responsibility of all organizations to guarantee their workers safe and healthy working conditions and environments at all times. Since, the employees of the Telecommunication could not be dismissed because they were civil servants; the executive management in its restructuring opted to frustrate the workers to quit through creating toxic conditions that resulted in about 35 workers committing suicide in 2000s. Such actions were illegal and violated the decent work initiative’s guidelines. In New Zeeland, for instance, the executive would have been found guilty of violating the Health and Safety Act of 1992, Human Rights Act, 1993. Overall, the actions of the executives did not exhibit respect for mental and physical integrity of their employees. Their actions directly caused psychological challenges that resulted in the deaths of some of the workers. Decent work initiatives must be implemented to guarantee all workers a safe and healthy working environment.
The pandemic period characterized by lockdowns and economic downturns creates interesting times within the labor market. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that its citizens are able to access opportunities and get basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing. The contract workers, such as delivery persons, taxi drivers, performance artists, and landscapers are not always protected in the current laws. Despite lack of protection by the existing employment laws the government policies tend to discriminate against them. For instance, the current wage subsidy scheme locks the contract workers out. While New Zeeland is largely a neoliberal economy that favors free-market capitalism, it is essential to develop mechanism to include the contract workers and protect their rights like all employees. They deserve to enjoy good wages and better working conditions. For instance, due to lack of recognition in the existing laws, the contract workers during the covid-19 can lose their wages and work without any employment relations challenge compared to dismissing or reducing wages of an employee in a company. Hence, there is need to review the challenges of contract workers and develop laws to protect them.
Covid-19 disrupted the labor market in different ways due to lockdowns and economic downturns. While there are individuals that have gained work in the essential sector there are many who have lost their jobs and income due to the pandemic. In New Zeeland, level 4 lockdown has resulted in loss of income among the blue collar workers. The story of Rose Kavapalu, a cleaner, illustrates the challenges of the blue collar workers before the pandemic. Kavapalu had to work from 7.30AM to 10.30PM to guarantee her family decent livelihood. However, with lockdown she may not be able to work to the optimum because of the restricted movement and closed schools. Again, the article raises issues if health safety, risk and underpayment among the blue collar workers. Despite the pandemic, Kavapalu continued to work to ensure people lived in safe and sanitized environment putting her at risk of the disease. However, here sacrifice and contribution in the labor market is not commensurate to the value and payment she receives. It is critical to review employment laws to help blue collar workers to get a better payment and recognition.
Blumenfeld S. (Apr. 8, 2020). Covid-19: We must protect ‘gig economy’ workers. Ideasroom https://www.newsroom.co.nz/ideasroom/2020/04/08/1119385/covid-19-we-must-protect-gig-economy-workersParahi C., Kilgallon S., & Fyers A. (May 14, 2020). Coronavirus: There were two, quite different Covid-19 lockdowns in New Zealand. Stuff. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300011189/coronavirus-there-were-two-quite-different-covid19-lockdowns-in-new-zealand‘Three French Executive Convicted in the Suicides of 35 of their Workers.’ (Dec. 21, 2019)