Plans to privatise workplace mediation services in provincial New Zealand have been met with dismay from both unions and employers, says Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.
“In another attempt by the National Party to privatise core Government services, MBIE has quietly begun consultation on their plans to outsource mediation services and close their regional offices in Palmerston North, Napier and Dunedin. It is driven by ideology rather than evidence and the response from those who most often use the service has been uniformly negative.
“Representatives of both employers and employees have raised serious concerns with the privatisation proposal. People who have contacted me have noted the importance of developing a relationship of trust and respect with mediators and the importance of quick access to mediation services.
“The most serious concern is that contracted mediators are likely to be employment lawyers who also represent employers and employees in other matters. This poses an enormous risk that conflicts of interest will arise especially in smaller provincial communities.
“The Government needs to learn from the Serco fiasco and put a hold on its privatisation agenda. The mediation service works well and is respected by employers and employees alike. There is no need to wreck a service that everyone agrees is providing effective and efficient mediation,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.