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Govt Buried Employment Reviews Under Budget

27 May 2001

The Government purposely avoided scrutiny of its controversial employment reviews by releasing* them on the eve of Budget day, National's Industrial Relations Spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.

"The Government had to release them, but obviously didn't want to attract too much public attention so it buried them under the Budget.

The three reviews are The Holidays Act, Equal Employment Opportunities, and Contracting Out and Sale and Transfer of Business.

"It's the 'contracting out' one that is most controversial. The Government is considering bending to union pressure and implementing a policy similar to the European Directive on Acquired Rights.

"It could require a business that won a contract to take over all the staff of the previous contractor, including all their employment conditions. This is highly controversial for businesses in New Zealand because they'd get the lot whether they liked it or not.

"Even worse is that if a business was sold the purchaser may have to take over all the existing staff including their employment conditions, imposing major restructuring costs on the purchaser and inevitably reducing the value of the business.

Dr Smith said the Government must stop conducting these reviews in secret.

"Everyone involved is frightened to talk because they fear retribution from the Prime Minister. Yet these matters must be debated publicly. They're hugely important and it's time the Government came clean on exactly what it's trying to do.

"With Margaret Wilson and Laila Harre pushing this thing, business has every reason to be very suspicious," Dr Smith said.



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