Government warned about changes to labour laws
Darien Fenton | Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 15:20
The Government’s ideologically based agenda could worsen industrial relations in New Zealand and potentially damage our international reputation, documents obtained by Labour reveal.
The government is proposing six major changes to the Employment Relations Act.
“The documents contain several warnings about the effect of those changes on New Zealand’s employment relations,” Labour’s spokesperson on labour issues, Darien Fenton, says.
“The papers warn that removing the requirement to conclude collective bargaining will have a signalling effect that employers can easily walk away - causing more disputes, a deterioration in the employment relationship, increased staff turnover and fewer collective agreements being settled.
“Giving employers the right to unilaterally opt out of multi-employer agreement bargaining could expose New Zealand to critical international scrutiny over its international labour obligation.
“We could find ourselves the subject of a costly investigation over non- compliance with core International Labour conventions that New Zealand has ratified,” Darien Fenton said.
“The proposal to allow pay deductions for so called partial strikes (such as refusing to answer the telephone) will require amendments to three Acts of Parliament, a complicated process of calculation and notification and a disputes resolution process involving mediation, the Employment Authority and the Employment Court.
“This is patently ridiculous, given there have only been an average of five partial strikes a year for the last 20 years.
“The Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson, claims she doesn’t want to see unnecessary change for change’s sake and is looking to put in place pragmatic solutions, but here we have her own department warning that the changes her government is proposing are far from pragmatic and will have major consequences.
“These proposals will escalate, rather than mitigate, the most volatile industrial relations environment seen in New Zealand for years, and will definitely do nothing to increase wages and provide decent work,” said Darien Fenton.