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National Moves To The Right

26 April 2002

Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said today that National’s industrial relations policy was a recipe to a return to an ‘us versus them’ conflict-based relationship between workers and employers.

“The National Party is restating its failed policies of the last decade. Their industrial relations policy represents a significant step backwards to the sort of framework workers had to endure during the 1990s. They claim they would keep the framework of the current Act, but all their proposed amendments would undermine the whole basis of the Act.

“While Mr English says National would recognise the place of unions, their policy seriously undermines many of the protections that currently exist for workers. They would, for example, curb the access which unions have to workplaces.

“Moreover, National says that they would ‘rectify’ the current monopoly status enjoyed by unions. Who knows what that means because no monopoly status for unions exists.

“The introduction of a 90 day trial period for new workers would simply lead to the exploitation of workers, especially the young.

“National also says that they support this government’s good faith bargaining provisions – oddly they vehemently opposed this when the Employment Relations Act was being passed in Parliament – yet their proposed strike provisions would undermine good faith.

“National’s commitment to good faith and a consensual – as opposed to conflict – based approach to labour relations is completely undermined by its threat to abolish the Employment Court by merging it with the District Court. This shows that National still sees the employment relationship as just another commercial contract, and not as a relationship and partnership between workers and bosses.”

“For New Zealand to raise its productivity and complete the economic transformation needed to improve the standards of living for all New Zealanders, we must build a workplace environment based on co-operation and respect. Nothing in National’s policy would help that,” Margaret Wilson said.

Ends

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