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National To Create Better Workplaces

26 April 2002

"National's new workplace policy will make it easier for people who have difficulty getting jobs to get them and make it easier to involve everybody in lifting our economic performance," says National Leader Bill English. Mr English says New Zealand requires a simple and straightforward industrial relations policy that addresses the constraints of the current regime while, at the same time, making workplaces more flexible.

"National not only wants to create better workplaces, we also want to make it easier for job seekers to gain employment."

Mr English says a key aim of the policy is to make it easier for employers to give job seekers a chance. He says one of the biggest barriers facing new job seekers - like migrants - is the risk employers perceive about employing people who don't work.

"National will introduce an optional 90-day trial period, which both parties must agree to, that when someone takes on a new job either party can terminate the relationship without a grievance claim being brought.

"This takes no rights away from what people currently enjoy. However, it does give people who find it hard getting work - older workers, younger people, migrants, people with disabilities and those trying to get off benefits - a chance to have a go and prove themselves."

Mr English says while National will retain the Employment Relations Act - to avoid further workplace disruption - it will make amendments to the act.

"For example, we will recognise unions. However, we will remove their monopoly on collective bargaining, which corrects the situation where employees in a workplace can't have a collective contract unless they join the union.

"Our policy is about encouraging choice. It will allow unions to enter workplaces, if they have an employer's consent - which cannot be unreasonably withheld.

"A business and worker friendly policy is important because it ensures the entire economy operates to its potential and this will lift our economic performance if every workplace is part of that effort."

Mr English says National's Workplace Policy also includes a number of other commonsense changes. This includes removing restrictive conditions on businesses when they are sold or ownership transferred, eliminating reinstatement as a primary remedy in disputes, reintroducing competition to workplace insurance, as well as combining OSH and ACC to create one Government organisation concerned with work safety.


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