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Employment Relations Bill: Productive relations in

Employment Relations Bill: Productive relations in the workplace

The Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson today introduced the Coalition Government’s Employment Relations Bill into Parliament fulfilling an election promise to repeal the Employment Contracts Act.

‘This Bill signals the Government’s intention to bring fair dealings and a more balanced approach into the workplace,’ said the Minister. ‘This approach recognises the diversity of workplace agreements necessary in building a modern economy and the need for workplace relations which encourage productivity and support economic growth and job creation. ’

‘Individual agreements remain but there will be a greater emphasis on allowing workers who want that protection to more easily engage with a union and to benefit from a collective agreement. While some have found individual contracts appropriate as either employers or employees, many have not. The Government’s approach as outlined in the Employment Relations Bill recognises the often unequal nature of employment relationships and attempts a re-balancing to produce fairer outcomes for all.’

‘Underpinning the Government’s approach is the belief that employment relationships must be built on good faith behaviour not low trust legalistic contracts. Good faith will apply to all parties and it will require all players in the employment environment to act reasonably in their dealings with each other.’

‘A new mediation service will be established to help resolve employment problems as close to the workplace as possible. If the problem cannot be resolved at this level there will an Employment Relations Authority which will investigate the matter and determine it. Access from the Authority to the Employment Court will be available. The Government’s intention is however that the litigious nature of current employment relations and the need for judicial intervention will be reduced’

‘This is not a return to the past. Union membership will be voluntary. Individuals are free to form or join a union of their choice. Unions are required to be democratic, accountable, independent of employers and prove their worth to their members. They will have statutory rights of access to workplaces and will be bound by good faith provisions in their dealings with individuals and employers. Only registered unions will be able to negotiate and settle collective agreements. Union members are bound by a collective agreement. Individuals can join a union and be covered at any time.’

‘To reflect the diversity of workplace arrangements a range of collective bargaining options will be available – single employer, single union, multi-employer or multi-union agreements will be possible. Employment relations education will be promoted so everyone knows their rights, choices and responsibilities. This approach is about choice, flexibility and where exploitation has been allowed to flourish, a re-balancing in the interests of fairness for all.’


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