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Campaign Against Mallard's "Attack On Workers" EMA

Campaign Launched Against Mallard's Attack On Workers Rights

Employers say changes proposed to the KiwiSaver scheme by Trevor Mallard will erode workers rights and create inequality in the workplace.

Under Mr Mallard's proposed legislation, the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA Northern) say workers who are eligible and sign up for KiwiSaver will receive a higher remuneration than those under 18 or over 65 who are not eligible to join the scheme.

"The worst affected are those employees who can't afford the 4% from their own pay to join KiwiSaver," said Alasdair Thompson, chief executive of EMA.

"These people miss out on tax free employer contributions though at present they may get the cash equivalent up front - Mallard's law will prohibit that.

"Despite this inequality and for political reasons, the government plans to proceed regardless," Mr Thompson said.

EMA has expressed its views to Mr Mallard regarding his proposals and asked for there to be public consultation on the issue. Until EMA contacted the Prime Minister directly, Mr Mallard refused to engage with the EMA. He is still uncommitted to public consultation. EMA says it therefore has no option but to launch its campaign to raise awareness about the issue.

An advertisement introducing the campaign, "Stop Mallard's Attack on Workers," highlights the unfairness of the legislation on employers and employees alike, and expresses disappointment at the lack of public consultation from the government.

EMA predicts the most unfair aspect of the legislation will be on workers who are under 18, and over 65, and those who cannot afford to join Kiwi-Saver. Under Mallard's law employers are forced to offer a lower remuneration package to those who can't afford, or are not allowed to join KiwiSaver, compared to better off workers who can afford to join KiwiSaver.

Mr Thompson said the government is making a significant u-turn from the total remuneration approach that was specifically included in the KiwiSaver legislation.

"The problem seems to be that employers and employees are doing exactly as Dr Cullen suggested," Alasdair Thompson said. He was referring to Dr Cullen's statement that: "The Government expects that the phase-in of compulsory matching employer contributions will be taken into account in wage and salary bargaining..."

Mr Thompson added "this was the intent of the KiwiSaver legislation- that employees and employers should be able to bargain in good faith over how best to make the scheme work for both.

"Mr Mallard has totally missed the point when it comes to helping workers join KiwiSaver," Mr Thompson continued, "Under Mallard's law, workers won't be able to get cash up front. They'll either have to sign up to KiwiSaver or miss out.

"For those who can't join KiwiSaver- the lower paid, the young and the over 65s - Mallard's law means they'll miss out completely as they won't be allowed to get the cash up front equivalent instead.

"Overall, those in KiwiSaver will get higher remuneration than those who can't afford to go into it. It's unfair, it's wrong, it's discriminatory and it must be stopped."

Mr Thompson said the campaign's initial advertisement has been designed to raise public awareness.

"Mr Mallard is attacking the rights of workers and employers. Our advertisement illustrates this, and introduces readers to the basic facts about the issue, and encourages readers to let politicians know how they feel about it," he said.

The initial advertisement will appear in the New Zealand Herald and the Dominion-Post. Further information on the issue, can be obtained by calling 0800 800 EMA.


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