Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Employment Relations Act defies critics

Friday, 31 May 2002 Media Statement

Employment Relations Act defies critics

Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson says the Department of Labour’s latest monitoring report on the Employment Relations Act backs the groundswell of opinion that the Act is working well for New Zealanders.

“This government promised a more balanced approach to employment law, and that is what we have delivered. The facts speak for themselves: The Act has defied its critics. Any politician that changes direction will do New Zealanders a great disservice.”

“Problems on the job are being solved before they turn unnecessarily legal. And where legal intervention can’t be avoided, cases are being dealt with quickly and efficiently.”

One of the Act’s big achievements is that it gives people the ability to solve problems before they escalate. Free-of-charge Mediation Services were established to prevent confrontational and expensive legal tangles.

- Mediation Services have received10,556 requests for help
- 91 per cent of those problems have been dealt with
- Over half are dealt with within three weeks, and 92 per cent within three months

The most common problems brought to mediation are potential personal grievance claims, but Mediation Services assist with a wide range of issues - from office tensions to sticking points in collective bargaining.

“Often its involvement in bargaining situations concerns a specific issue. Once it is resolved, the parties can continue negotiations and reach settlement without further assistance.”

Margaret Wilson said the success of the service was changing attitudes to employment disputes. Mediation meant problems could be sorted informally, in some cases by telephone or email, rather than in an adversarial arena.

“Employers and employees have traditionally been reluctant to share their troubles outsiders, but there is growing acceptance that bringing in an impartial point of view can assist. It saves everyone time, money and heartache.”

This more informal approach to resolving problems helps prevent bottlenecks, such as those that dogged the Employment Court under the National government’s Employment Contracts Act, elsewhere in the judicial system.

The Employment Relations Authority – an investigative rather than judicial body established under the Act - has received 2,449 applications and dealt with 1,551 in its first 18 months. The authority was also able to refer an additional 1,116 applications to mediation.

Half of the authority’s cases are dealt with within three months, and nine out of 10 within seven months. This has roughly halved the wait people faced in the Employment Tribunal under the ECA, when some cases took over a year to reach hearing.

Margaret Wilson said this is a vast contrast to situation that festered under the previous government. “But we are sorting out those inherited problems. We started with 2,680 outstanding Employment Tribunal cases from the days of the Employment Contract Act; this is down to 314. I just wish the parties involved could have benefited from this government’s reforms.”

The Government is committed to making sure that good service continues and has made budget provisions to maintain service levels.

- Mediation Services will receive additional funding of $1 million in both the 2002-03 and 2003-04 financial years.

- The Employment Relations Authority will also receive additional funding of $563,000 in each of the next four years.

Margaret Wilson said: “The Act has given employers, employees and unions tools to foster productive employment relationships and to resolve problems when they do arise.”

“This proactive approach works best. I also commend the Department of Labour, which has answered about 300,000 inquiries on the Employment Relations Service Info-line, taken education programmes out to the community and provided useful information for employers and employees on its website. It all helps to promote the healthy relationships everyone would like to have on the job.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election