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Labour policy back to the future

Media release

30 July 2014

Labour policy back to the future

Labour’s employment relations policy released today would bring back a system that delivered counterproductive workplace relations in the past, BusinessNZ says.

Labour’s policy would see a return to more collective bargaining, preference for unions, and more central direction over employment matters. The 90-day trial policy would be repealed and pay rates would be hiked for public servants and minimum wage workers

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said the policy was inconsistent with the rest of Labour’s rhetoric about skills, business development, growth of small business and growth in the regions.

He said a return to old-fashioned employment thinking was not compatible with current growth settings that were all about nimble businesses, higher-tech development and harmonious workplaces.

“It is no accident that industrial and strike action has died down under current policies. Returning to a union-led system would only resurrect the industrial tensions of the past.

“New Zealand’s growth performance following the global financial crisis has been much stronger than most other developed countries. This growth story would not have happened under the kinds of policies that Labour is seeking to reinstate.”

He said no costings had been provided for the pay increases or the costs of other parts of Labour’s policy, including a pay equity bureaucracy, which would entail large government spending.

Labour’s idea of a workplace commission to advise on labour issues was reasonable and business would be comfortable with engaging with it but it would need to listen to evidence around both successes and problems of the labour market.

“For example it would be important to consider the evidence of the success of the 90-day trial period. A recent survey has shown that 63 percent of respondent employers* have either hired an untried worker or hired them sooner because of the trial policy – showing the policy is succeeding in getting people with limited skills into work.”

*EMA survey of 518 employers December 2013

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