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Greens welcome workers' Christmas present, if late

Greens welcome workers' Christmas present, even if late

Green MP Sue Bradford welcomed proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act announced today, saying that it represents "a Christmas present, three years late, but nevertheless warmly welcomed by workers."

The Employment Relations Law Reform Bill sees the inclusion of transfer of undertaking provisions that were dropped from the draft version of the Employment Relations Bill in 2000. Transfer of undertakings protect worker entitlements if their job is contracted out, or if the business is sold. Vulnerable workers will have specific protections, while better-off workers have a process of negotiations to determine theirs.

"The Green Party has been working closely with unions and the Government on this Bill and, while it has been a long time coming, it is a great step forward for protecting workers who need it most," said Ms. Bradford.

"No longer will workers have to worry about showing up to work one morning, discovering that management has decided sell or there's been a hostile takeover, and then having to apply for their jobs again, with possibly reduced conditions and lower pay."

However, Ms Bradford expressed concern that the new Bill doesn't appear to have strong enough provisions to prevent non-union workers freeloading on the gains of their unionised colleagues.

"Workers on individual contracts are presently able to freeload on the hard work and negotiations performed by unions when employers automatically extend new, union-negotiated entitlements to their entire workforce.

"What is fair about individuals leeching off the collective - without paying their dues?" asked Ms Bradford. "The bill goes some way to reduce the free extension, but should be strengthened further.

"We will be working with unions and Government through the process of this Bill to strengthen these and other provisions which will improve collective bargaining and the ability of unions to organise effectively."


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