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National’s policy another attack on working people

24 July 2008 Media Statement

National’s policy another attack on working people

The National Party’s employment policy released today is yet another attack on workers and their families, undermining the hard-fought-for protections employess have enjoyed under the Labour-led government, Labour Minister Trevor Mallard says.

“What we are seeing is a return to the bad old days of the Employment Contracts Act with no protection at all for new employees, an erosion of the Holidays Act with the fourth week of leave under threat and the balance of power being shifted sharply in favour of employers,” Trevor Mallard said.

“This one-page policy includes the fire-at-will provision already announced by National, forcing new employees into a 90-day ‘trial’ period without any protection against unfair or unreasonable treatment.

“Far from encouraging economic growth, that will encourage companies to keep staffing at or under the 20 employee threshold to take advantage of that provision and ignores the fact fair and reasonable probationary periods already exist under the Employment Relations Act.

“National’s policy removes the current balance in the collective bargaining process in favour of employers and puts sick pay under threat with National’s promise to ‘review the Holidays Act especially the issue of relevant daily pay’.

“That is code for cutting the pay of sick people.

“Labour believes if you’re sick you need to know you can pay the bills, if you are a new employee you are entitled to protection under the law, and that collective bargaining is a balance between staff and bosses. This policy doesn’t just undermine workers’ rights, it’s an outright attack on working people and New Zealanders need to know the National Party is intent on returning to the bad old days of the Employment Contracts Act.

Under Labour, workers and their families have:

- Seen incomes for the lowest paid rise 71 per cent
- Benefited from paid parental leave of 14 weeks
- Had four weeks holiday to enjoy time with their families
- Seen average household income rise 25 per cent

“The policy released today has some glaring gaps and National leader John Key should front up and tell working people what National will do on issues such as paid parental leave, the minimum wage and time-and-a-half pay – all opposed by National.

“This is another example of a one-page type policy that contains some serious erosion of the rights of working people. There is no doubt worker rights is now firmly in the spotlight as a major election issue.

“But I won’t be looking for Kate Wilkinson to debate the issues - the minute National’s employment policy was released, its spokesperson turned her phone off and left the building,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Her approach is a disgrace for someone who aspires to be a minister.”

ENDS

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