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Cost of Union Disputes Soars

Cost of Union Disputes Soars

Thursday 18 Jul 2002

Labour's Employment Relations Act is costing working New Zealanders millions in lost wages, with figures released today showing the biggest escalation in industrial action the country has seen in a decade, ACT leader Richard Prebble says.

"There were 41 strikes and stoppages in the year to March 2002 - almost double the number for the previous 12 months.

"The estimate for lost wages and salaries is $7.5 million, a staggering 180 percent increase on the $2.7 million of the previous 12 months, and the highest recorded for a 12-month period in nearly a decade.

"The most disturbing aspect of the figures is that the number of strikes and stoppages is continuing to escalate. The rampant industrial action we have seen over the last six months is not included. That will show up in the June quarter figures.

"There is no reason to assume that strikes won't continue to escalate, especially when Labour introduces measures which will legalise political strikes and secondary picketing. This means Labour is on track for another record level of industrial disruption and lost wages.

"ACT predicted this would happen under Labour's new law. ACT supports a simple contract between employer and employee. That's the system we had, and it was working before Labour turned the clock back to pay off their union official mates.

"For the five years before Labour, this country had solid growth in real wage levels. Workers were better off by over $1.40 an hour in real terms. Since Labour took office, inflation has robbed workers of any gains, leaving the average worker 5 cents an hour worse off," Mr Prebble said.


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