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General Strikes - Labour's Hidden 2nd Term Agenda

27 June 2002

General Strikes - Labour's Hidden Second Term Agenda

Margaret Wilson's attempts to ratify conventions that could allow general strikes gives a clear message of what to expect if voters return a second-term Labour Government, National Industrial Relations Spokesperson Simon Power said today.

"The International Labour Organisation conventions themselves seem innocuous a first reading. However, the interpretations of them by the ILO's Freedom of Association Committee make it clear that they allow general strikes on social and economic issues. This is clearly a path New Zealand does not want to go down.

"Allowing general strikes would be a return to the bad old days. Laws like this belong in the 1970s, and in unstable countries- not New Zealand in the 21st century.

"We can't allow bad law like that to be promulgated in New Zealand. The excuses offered by some commentators that general strikes probably wouldn't happen that much are not acceptable. That is no reason to let the Government get away with putting in place legislation that would cripple the economy.

"We were also told at the time the ERA was introduced that strikes would not increase. However, we have seen a massive increase in the number of days lost and the amount of wages lost to strike action. Moves like this will only add to existing industrial unrest, like the teacher's dispute.

"The other worrying factor is that this move would take industrial law outside the immediate workplace. Workers could now strike on any social or economic decision that they do not agree with - whether or not it affected their work and conditions.

"New Zealand now faces a clear choice in it industrial relations law - National's fair, equitable system based on mutual respect, or Labour's old-fashioned Union hard line," Mr Power said.


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