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National would threaten workers' gains

14 September 2005

National would threaten workers' gains

If the National Party is in a position to form the next Government, New Zealand workers will lose all the gains that have been made over the past three years, Green Labour and Employment spokesperson Sue Bradford told members of the Rail and Maritime Union today.

Ms Bradford and Council of Trade Unions President Ross Wilson spoke to a large group of RMU members at a lunchtime meeting at the Alstom Hutt workshop in the Hutt Valley.

"At union meetings I'm attending around the country, I'm warning workers about what will happen if National is in a position to form the next Government: we'll lose all the gains that have been made, plus see new disasters such as the 90 day rule which would allow employers to fire staff at will during the first 90 days of their employment," Ms Bradford said.

"The threat of National isn't just to employed workers, but also to unemployed workers and beneficiaries - just yesterday that party slipped its compulsory work for the dole policy in under cover of its environmental policy release."

Labour needs the Greens as a support party on worker and union issues, she said.

"Labour has relied on Green Party support to enact almost all its good industrial relations law since 1999, and without a Green presence in the next Parliament there is a strong risk that pro-union, pro-worker legislation won't happen.

"The Greens strongly supported the buyback of the rail network. We have an ongoing commitment to the development of freight and passenger rail transport as a high priority given the end of cheap oil seems to be upon us."

The Green Party wants to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour for all workers aged 16 and over, and supports the Employment Relations Act and its amendments which are aimed at building the power of workers to negotiate fair wages and conditions through collective agreements.

"We are grateful to the union for their support in this campaign - a lot more unions have offered and given support to the Green Party this time round than in previous elections, which shows a growing awareness of the key role we play now that the Alliance is no longer on the parliamentary scene in terms of keeping Labour staunch on workers' rights."

ENDS

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