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IT Minister encourages unions online

31 July 2000 Media Statement

IT Minister encourages unions online

Information Technology Minister Paul Swain has encouraged unions to embrace the online world and take advantage of the benefits it has to offer their members.

Speaking today to the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions 'Unions OnLine' conference in Wellington, Paul Swain said the digital world has much to offer the union movement.

"Unions have long been hamstrung by the physical difficulties of communicating with and providing services for their members," he said.

"The workforce of the future is likely to be even more widely spread than it is now, with people working from home and in smaller more specialised units. People will want more information from government and the private sector online - they will expect the same from unions.

"Web sites promoting information and services, links to other agencies and e-mail communication are some of the things a net smart workforce will demand.

"The digital world will allow unions to overcome the tyranny of distance. An interactive online service, perhaps a single union portal, would give workers easy access to their representatives.

"It could mean online voting and ready up-to-the-minute information and services and unions could save money on printing and posting because it could be done electronically.

"Very importantly a working online structure could provide much needed support for delegates working out in the provinces.

"The challenge now for unions is to recognise that this is the way of the future workforce in New Zealand and that to survive they will have to embrace it.

"Exciting times lie ahead," Paul Swain said.

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