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Balance crucial in employment relations

29 June 2000

Balance crucial in employment relations

The Green Party said today it would aim to protect the needs of workers, small business owners and community organisations in the Employment Relations Bill.

"The crucial outcome of this legislation must be to balance the power relationship between employers and workers," said Green Party Employment Spokesperson Sue Bradford.

"However this bill alone will not be enough. I'm strongly advocating for the removal of the 13 week stand-down period before the unemployment benefit can be received. This stand-down period has forced many former employees to take personal grievance cases purely so they can receive a benefit," she said.

"If the stand-down period is removed, as per a private member's bill I am currently promoting, the employment institutions will not be clogged up the way they are at present and the ERB's mediation services will have a much better chance of working effectively."

Ms Bradford said she was aware of mounting pressure from the Business Roundtable and similar groups to water down the Employment Relations Bill in the last month.

"The Greens have always supported the thrust of the bill which intends to restore trust and good faith to workplace bargaining situations and we encourage the Government to remain staunch on its original intentions," she said.

"However we do recognise that some sections of the bill need to be worked on, and we're talking to all sections of the community about those changes."

Ms Bradford has already advocated for the rights of contractors to make their own decisions about whether they choose to change their status.

"The Greens would support changes to other clauses to benefit small business owners. At the same time, we will fight for the right to strike in support of significant environmental, political, economic and social concerns and support a clause which protects collective agreements from free-riders."

A bullet point summary of the Green Party position on the Employment Relations Bill is attached.

Sue Bradford MP: 04 470 6720 or 025 243 4239 Paul Bensemann, Press secretary: 04 470 6679 or 021 214 2665

29 June 2000

Green Party position on the ERB

1. Contractors should retain the right to choose their own employment status.

2. Small employers, community organisations and non-unionised workers should have access to employment relations education resources.

3. Sensitive financial information should be assessed by an independent third party before being released during workplace negotiations.

4. Board members of community organisations should not be held personally liable for wages and holiday pay if it is a not-for-profit organisation that becomes insolvent.

5. Workers should have the right to strike in support of significant environmental, political, economic and social concerns.

6. As long as 75 per cent of the workplace agrees, workers should have the ability to prevent others from free-riding on their collective agreement by requiring all individuals to either pay a bargaining fee or join a union.

7. Separate legislation abolishing the 13 week community wage stand-down should be introduced, in order to allow the mediation procedures in the bill to work effectively. The Green Party sees the current 13 week stand-down period as one of the biggest workplace inequities introduced by the National Government.

8. The minimum number of people who can form a union should be no less than 15; the current position under the Incorporated Societies Act.

9. The new mediation service should establish a Maori Unit within it to provide services for Maori who wish to use a Maori mediator.

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