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Labour to continue fair workplace policies

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

30 August 2005 Media Statement

Labour to continue fair workplace policies

Prime Minister Helen Clark today launched Labour's Employment Relations and ACC policies, pledging to continue to promote fairness in the workplace and a publicly owned ACC scheme.

“Over the past two terms, we have worked hard to bring more fairness to New Zealand workplaces,” Helen Clark said.

“National, in contrast, wants to implement an agenda written by the Business Roundtable.

“Revelations in the media about the influence exerted by the Business Roundtable make it clear that National’s true agenda would be to remove legal minimum wages, legally mandated holidays and occupational safety and health regulations, and to privatise ACC.

“Don Brash has flip-flopped on minimum wages and four weeks leave since becoming National Party leader, but nobody should be mistaken about the approach he and his Business Roundtable backers really favour.

“A major achievement of our two terms in government has been the development of fairer and safer workplaces. Radical changes to employment relations, health and safety law, and ACC, would be divisive, costly, and affect workers’ health and safety.

“The Employment Relations Act 2000 brought a better balance to workplace relations by promoting collective bargaining and good faith dealing between employers and employees.

“The Labour-led government introduced the Paid Parental Leave scheme in July 2002. The period of paid leave will be extended from 13 to 14 weeks in December this year, and the scheme will cover self-employed parents from 1 July 2006.

“Labour has legislated for four weeks annual leave, effective from 1 April 2007, enabling families to spend more time together, and workers to have more rest and recreation, and there have also been other improvements made in the Holidays Act 2003.

"In employment relations, Labour will continue its emphasis on good faith in dealings between employers and employees.

“Our approach recognises that a partnership between employers and workers and unions, works far better for New Zealand than the adversarial approach of the Employment Contracts Act.

“Disputes between employers and employees are being settled more easily. The number of cases reaching the Employment Court has fallen from 327 in 1999-2000 to 166 in 2003-2004. Mediation is now a far more popular method of resolving workplace issues.

“In ACC, Labour is committed to a publicly-owned scheme. New Zealand’s ACC is the envy of many countries, and to privatise it, as National wants, would be a backward step.

“ACC is recognised as one of the best schemes of its type in the world. Workers who suffer injuries receive more comprehensive care than in any other part of the world, and at a lower cost than through any other comparable accident compensation scheme. ACC delivers for workers and for business.

"The progressive workplace reforms of our past two terms have delivered significant gains for working New Zealanders and for businesses. Over the next term, Labour will continue to work with employees and employers to strike a fair balance which both protects workers and promotes greater investment and productivity,” Helen Clark said.


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