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Clark's 'preposterous demands' ring hollow

Lockwood Smith National Industrial Relations Spokesperson

20 February 2001

Clark's 'preposterous demands' ring hollow

If the Labour-Alliance Government can't get its Employment Relations Act to work for negotiations with its own employees, the MAF Vets, it doesn't bode well for private sector employers, National's Industrial Relations Spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.

"At the time of the introduction of the new law, Helen Clark said the Government 'have sought a more level playing field in industrial relations. We have sought to build an industrial relations climate in which the parties deal with each other in good faith'.

"But everyone else knew was that the Government's new law was raising wage expectations unrealistically, giving excessive power to unions and putting huge reliance on good faith provisions no one believed would work.

"We're seeing the consequences of those raised expectations in the vets' strike, which the much vaunted new mediation service cannot resolve, and good faith provisions the Government itself can't make work.

"In Parliament today the Government did not dispute that a vets' union delegate agreed to a mediated settlement, undertook to promote it to members and then undermined it in a subsequent email. It's hard to conceive of a greater breach of good faith.

"The only thing the Government has disputed is the extent to which the email undermined the mediated settlement. However, Labour Minister Margaret Wilson has refused to release the email that would have let everyone see exactly what good faith means under this Government's legislation.

"For Helen Clark to claim the vets' demands are preposterous, is hollow when her own legislation is contributing so much to the problem. Ms Clark even removed the power of employers to employ other staff to help break a strike," Dr Smith said.


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