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Union Influence On Labour Law Questioned

Monday 2 February, 2004

Union Influence on Labour Law Questioned

The similarities between a Council of Trade Union (CTU) submission and the government's proposed Employment Relations Law Reform Bill must be explained, New Zealand Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said today.

"In December 2002 the CTU gave the government a submission on labour law changes. After four months of requests, the Minister of Labour has finally relinquished the ostensibly public document. A careful comparison of the submission with the proposed bill shows many instances where the union requests have been adopted in exactly the same form by the government.

"The startling similarities occur on different levels. Not only are the broad objectives and policy directions of each document very similar, but in many cases it appears the government didn't bother to change the wording between the CTU's requests and the legislation itself.

"Each of the CTU's broad areas of concern have been addressed by the legislation: an expansion of the interpretation of good faith, provisions to favour collective bargaining over individual agreements and to encourage multi-employer collective agreements, more onerous unjustifiable dismissal provisions, moves to eliminate so-called 'free riding' by non-union employees, and restrictions on contracting out and the sale of a business.

"Public policy should be based on sound principles, not on a self-serving trade union wish-list.

"The treatment the CTU has received contrasts with that of business organisations, which were criticised by the prime minister for engaging in "silly rhetoric" when they pointed out that three months over the summer holidays was not enough time to make submissions on the large amount of complex legalese.

"The Business Roundtable is publishing the submission and a comparison with the bill, at www.nzbr.org.nz . Readers are encouraged to see for themselves how the CTU has basically dictated the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill," Mr Kerr said.

ENDS

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