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National Lives Down To Minister’s Expectations

April 26 2002

“Lowering standards is no way to increase employment”, said Alliance Leader and Minister of Youth and Women’s Affairs, Hon Laila Harré, in response to the release of National’s industrial relations policy.

She said policy proposals such as an “anything goes” approach to the first three months of employment will allow unfair treatment to go unchecked and discourage young workers rather than help them.

“Saying such a policy would be optional is stupid,” Laila Harré said.

“The whole point of the Employment Relations Act was to get rid of the take it or leave it approach to employment agreements. The very workers who are least able to bargain for protections, young workers and new migrants, are the ones National says this policy will help but there will be nothing optional about this”.

Citing the incidence of sexual harassment in the service sector, Laila Harré said she is particularly concerned at the message such a policy would send young women.

“When we are urging women to complain about unfair or unwelcome behaviour this approach says keep your mouth shut for three months or you’ll lose your job and there’s nothing you can do about it”.

‘National’s policy is saying that sometimes it’s just too hard to be fair. It is never too hard to be fair”.

In response to policies restricting industrial action and giving employers veto rights over union access Laila Harré said National has lived down to her expectations.

“The sooner they move into the 21st Century and accept unions as an essential part of building good workplace relations the better”.

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