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Tourism in for a bad knock under ERB

Saturday 13 May 2000

Tourism in for a bad knock under ERB

New Zealand's fast-growing tourism industry will be badly knocked by the Employment Relations Bill, Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said today.

"I'm shocked at just how strongly the small and medium-sized tourist operators say their businesses will be hurt by the ERB," Mrs Shipley said. She is tonight speaking at the presentation of Fiordland Tourism awards, in Te Anau.

"Tourism is a $9 billion industry, generating 15.8 percent of our exports. The Government can't afford to treat it in the cavalier fashion it is with the ERB.

"Tourism operators have identified several features of the Bill that will hurt their business," Mrs Shipley said. These include:

* Defining the working day as Monday to Friday, which is totally unrealistic in tourism which is a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour operation;

* The prospect of industry-wide strikes which could cripple the tourism industry;

* A far less flexible labour market which is concerning many people in the sector;

* Higher compliance costs which will hit small operators particularly hard, tying up time and resources in complying with the Bill;

* The requirement for employers to give workers paid leave for union education.

"Most tourism operators operate on very tight margins. With these extra costs, some will either have to go to the wall, curtail their expansion plans, or increase costs for tourists.

"They will mean fewer jobs for New Zealanders, less growth in business and a declining share of the world tourism market for New Zealand.

"That is just madness for a small nation like New Zealand which depends on growing sectors such as tourism to make a bigger cake for us all.

"I thoroughly support the call from the New Zealand Tourism Industry Association for the Government to wind back the worst effects of the ERB.

"If the Government won't do that, it will simply prove the TIA's belief that it has put ideology ahead of basic business common-sense - and that will hurt all New Zealanders," Mrs Shipley said.

Ends

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