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Work stoppages decline for a third year

23 January 2004 Media Statement

Work stoppages decline for a third year

Labour Minister Margaret Wilson has welcomed the latest statistics on work stoppages, which have decreased for the third year in a row.

“Any sign of a downward trend is good news for New Zealand - everyone wants to see businesses operating successfully with the minimum of disruption. The decrease comes despite the tight labour market which can be expected to put the pressure on the terms and conditions of employment agreements,” she said.

The total number of work stoppages for the September year was 29, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today. There were 38 stoppages recorded in September 2002 year and 41 in 2001.

The yearly figures for the number of employees involved in work stoppages and losses in person-days and wages are all lower than 2002 and are similar to the figures seen over the previous years.

Margaret Wilson said the Department of Labour's mediation service was involved in the successful resolution of many disputes in the latest September quarter.

“One of the aims of the Employment Relations Act has been to resolve disputes more quickly in less legalistic forums. The free mediation services have been recognised by employers and employees as a practical mechanism for resolving workplace disputes. It is important that businesses have access to practical, low-cost assistance.”

Mediation services will be expanded under proposed amendments to the Employment Relations Act, by making it clear that contractors can get advice and by allowing mediators to fast-track more straightforward disputes. Parties will also be encouraged to try to deal with problems themselves in the first instance.

ENDS

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