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Response to arbitration issue

30 October 2002 Media Statement

Response to arbitration issue


Health Minister Annette King says it would be technically possible under Section 32 of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act for the Government to decide on a policy for directing District Health Boards to seek arbitration in any industrial dispute.

However, Ms King said it would also be clearly possible for such a direction to be challenged on the basis that it cut across a DHB’s statutory decision-making ability under the Employment Relations Act. The ERA clearly states that all agreements must be voluntary and ratified by the parties to the agreement.

“It would also be incredibly foolhardy for any responsible minister to embark on such a precedent. No Health Minister in recent times has ever become involved in such matters.

“Setting such a precedent would simply send a message that DHBs could sit back and wait for a directive from the Minister whenever they couldn’t reach agreement on an industrial issue. That is not government policy, and certainly not in the spirit of the Employment Relations Act.

“It is certainly not this Government’s intention to give directions that circumvent the Employment Relations Act.”

Ms King said she was continuing to monitor the situation relating to the Auckland strike. “My primary concern is that safe emergency services are in place. The Auckland board and the Ministry of Health assure me that is the case.”

Ms King said she would not be making any further statement on the issue, as she had no interest in inflaming the situation.

ENDS

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