The Employment Relations Bill: better than ever
"The Employment Relations Bill has been improved by the Select Committee process," said the Minister of Labour, Margaret Wilson on the tabling of the committee's recommendations today. By listening carefully to employers, managers, employees and unions the Select Committee has been able to improve the Bill to make it more effective.
"The Labour-Alliance government will be supporting the changes proposed by the committee.
"The changes by the select committee leave the policy planks of the original Bill intact. Opposition to the Bill has concentrated on areas which have proved relatively easy to clarify.
"Many employers have been worried by the intensity of the campaign against the Bill. But they will find that the Bill makes life easier, not harder. They will have less to fear from litigation, and more support in avoiding or solving problems. Contracts will not be imposed on employers – they must deal in good faith, but in the end employers' agreement is needed for any changes to be made.
"The Bill was difficult to construct in the first place. This was because of the enormous changes in the economy and New Zealand workplaces during the time of the Employment Contracts Act and because we needed agreement between the coalition partners.
"We knew we could not go back to the past. From the outset, it was clear that elements of the old ways of industrial relations could not be included. National awards and compulsory unionism and arbitration were the props of the old way. They were never in this Bill.
"Instead we constructed an approach which puts us in the mainstream of industrial relations in the western world. The ECA, in effect, had put us in the mainstream of third world industrial relations.
"The workplaces we want are workplaces in which good faith, mutual trust and understanding are backed up by helpful institutions. That's what this Bill achieves."
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