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New employee voice options "good move"

New employee voice options “good move”

The growth in non-union forms of employee representation - like works councils and consultative committees - is a step in the right direction for New Zealand’s employment relations, says AUT University Professor of Employment Relations Ray Markey.

He says declining trade union membership has produced a “representation gap” for employees.

“Management is too important to be left to managers in the modern globally competitive economy and employees are too important to be treated as mere factors of production,” says Professor Markey.

The decline in trade union membership has driven the search for other options for employee representation. Globalisation and the growth of multinational companies have also exposed countries like New Zealand to other forms of employee voice and consultative industrial relations – similar to those practised in much of Europe.

In his professorial address at AUT on Tuesday, March 28, Professor Markey will explore how and why the channels for the employee voice are changing.

“I applaud New Zealand’s attempts to recover from its own disaster of the Employment Contracts Act of the 1990s, but it still has some way to go to allow employees a full voice in determining the nature of their work,” he says.

Professor Markey was Associate Professor in Industrial Relations at the University of Wollongong before he emigrated from Australia last year to take up his professorial role at AUT’s School of Business. He says he is pleased he made the move, given Australia’s recent industrial relations legislation which is designed to shift the balance of power in workplaces in favour of employers.

“I’m close enough to observe the return to the nineteenth century in Australian industrial relations, but far enough away not to be affected by it.”

Professor Markey has written seven books in industrial relations and labour history, edited seven more books and published more than 70 articles. He is editor of the International Employment Relations Review and a member of the editorial board of Labour History and the International Journal of Employment Studies.

Professorial address by Ray Markey

Globalisation and participation: new needs and opportunities for employee voice
Tuesday March 28, 4.30pm
WA220 (lecture theatre, WA Bldg, Level 2)
AUT University, Wellesley Street, Auckland

ENDS

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