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Labour's Union Bill Strongly Rejected

Monday 5th Jul 1999

Patricia Schnauer

Media Release -- Economy

ACT MP Patricia Schnauer today said New Zealanders don't want to be forced back in to the hands of the Unions as Labour is proposing with its promised Workplace Relations Bill.

"The latest survey of 1,000 people conducted by researchers AC Neilsen found strong support for the current Employment Contracts Act with 66% wanting it to remain. That is a body blow for Labour's key election promise to scrap the ECA.

"In a bid to keep the support of its Union cronies, the Labour/Alliance coalition has promised to repeal the ECA and replace it with a Workplace Relations Bill modelled on that prepared by the Council of Trade Unions.

"The proposed Workplace Relations Bill contains a number of provisions that will strengthen the role and power of trade unions.

"Successful business survives only on strong employment relationships. Business is only as good as its people. The Employment Contracts Act 1991 has brought about a major shift in industrial relations from a system characterised by centralism and compulsion to a voluntary and contractual-based one.

"Since the ECA was passed into law in May 1991, New Zealand has experienced industrial stability.

"In 1986, our worst ever year for industrial relations, 1,329,054 working days were lost due to work stoppages, at a total cost in lost wages of $1.9 billion. By comparison, during the post-ECA years of 1991 to 1997, we saw an annual average of only 60,327 working days lost due to work stoppages, an annual average cost in lost wages of only $8.3 million.

"Clearly, the freedom and flexibility provided by the ECA is working for both employers and employees. It is not, however, working for trade unions. The ECA caused the old award system to rapidly collapse, leaving the system dominated by enterprise arrangements, and unions sidelined.

"This survey shows New Zealanders have job creation as their one priority. They don't want a return to the dark days of the Unions stifling jobs and growth and holding the country's workplaces to ransom," said Patricia Schnauer


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