Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


The Employment Relations Bill

A Bill before Parliament that can cause a record drop in business confidence is a seriously flawed piece of legislation. Government ministers are now trying to assure business that the Employment Relations Bill does not do what they think it does and that it will be amended.

It’s not working – the business sector remains very afraid.

When Labour campaigned to repeal the Employment Contracts Act, business was unconcerned. Helen Clark said that the new law “will not affect good employers”. Michael Cullen said “we are just moving the law more to the centre”.

The Employment Relations Bill was therefore a great shock. It’s over 187 pages of new law, very radical law. The new law’s purpose is to promote trade unionism, and that it will do. The Bill gives extensive power to trade unions.

Under the Bill only trade unions can negotiate a collective agreement; all new employees must start on the collective; firms must collect union fees. In other words, it is de facto compulsory unionism.

What business fears is a provision that legalises strike action to achieve a multi-employer agreement. Under this provision, employees of Air New Zealand could go on strike to get the same agreement as Ansett. A further provision makes it illegal to replace striking workers.

A handful of employees could stop a company. A strike by MAF veterinarians who are members of the PSA could stop the whole export meat industry.

As a member of the Select Committee hearing evidence, we have heard of employers who have already been threatened by the union organisers. We have heard how waterside workers want a multi-employer agreement. We have listened to disgruntled telecommunications workers who have been open in saying how they will use the Bill to get back industrial conditions they believe are owed them.

I do not believe that the government intends compromising on any of these issues. 48% of Labour and Alliance MPs came out of the trade union movement. All of the government MPs on the Select Committee have a union background.

There are many side issues where cosmetic changes can be made.

Unions are not really interested in whether companies are profitable so the requirement to hand over confidential financial information will be dropped. Unions don’t care about directors so the personal liability of directors will be modified. Companies have said they simply won’t sign collective agreements that do not allow staff to be laid off when there is no work, so that clause will change.

The Greens, who hold the balance of power, and whose vote is needed to pass the law, have said they won’t support the clause making independent contractors employees, so that clause will either go or be drastically amended.

The expansion of the grounds for bringing personal grievance cases will remain, and despite savage criticism by lawyers, so will the new industrial relations “Star Chamber”, the Employment Relations Authority. People without legal training will have the power of a High Court judge to tell businesspeople how to run their companies.

The new industrial parking wardens, labour inspectors, with the power to issue instant fines, to enter businesses without a search warrant and inspect premises and books without notice, are coming.

So too is the right for any trade union official to enter any business they claim coverage of at any time.

The cost and the risk of business is about to increase and government wonders why so many business people have lost confidence in New Zealand as a place to invest and create jobs.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Crowdsale And Crowdfunding Campaign: Help Create The Future Of Independent News

Two weeks to go! The Scoop 3.0 plan aims to create NZ’s first community-owned, distributed news and media intelligence ecosystem in 2019. We believe this ScoopPro media monetisation approach can be scaled and spread globally to support local and independent news efforts in regional New Zealand and around the world.

Scoop is an ecosystem, it would not exist without those who contribute to it, read it and rely on it for professional media purposes. Generous past support from this ecosystem has enabled us to come this far in developing our business model. Support our PledgeMe Campaign>>


14/11: Two Years’ Progress Since The Kaikoura Earthquake

Mayor John Leggett said it was a day for reflection, but also a time to recognise the work by many people to support progress towards recovery made across Marlborough since November 2016. More>>


Pike River: Mine Drift Re-Entry Plan To Proceed

“I’ve decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, is by far the safest option,” said Andrew Little. More>>


Appointments: New High Commissioner To Australia Announced

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters. More>>


Two Years Since Kaikoura: Silvia Cartwright To Lead Inquiry Into EQC

“The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Royal Commission Into Child Abuse

Obviously, it is good news that the coalition government has broadened the scope of its Royal Commission into the abuse of children, beyond its previous focus on children in state care. More>>


Cases Delayed: Court Staff Refuse To Handle Sentencing Papers

Dozens of court cases have reportedly been delayed, as court staff escalate industrial action at two Auckland courts by enforcing a ban on handling sentencing papers. More>>


Education: Primary Teachers Rolling Strikes

RNZ Report: More than 100,000 primary school students in Auckland will be home from school today as teachers and principals walk off the job for the second time this year. It's the start of a week of rolling one-day strikes around the country, after the collapse of contract negotiations last Thursday. More>>


"Process Was Sound": Inquiry Into Haumaha Appointment Released

The Inquiry’s purpose was to examine, identify, and report on the adequacy of the process that led to the appointment. It found the process was sound and no available relevant information was omitted. More>>





InfoPages News Channels