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Labour's Industrial Relations Policy Draws Fire

Labour's Industrial Relations Policy Draws More Fire

Sunday 11th Jul 1999

Patricia Schnauer

Media Release -- Economy

Labour's industrial relations policy is again under fire from ACT's Patricia Schnauer who says its vital New Zealanders know just what Labour is proposing.

"Labour and the Alliance are committed to repealing the ECA and replacing it with the union drafted Workplace Relations Bill. But Labour refuses to spell out the true impact of that Bill.

"Labour is trying to hide from the public that its policy encourages de facto compulsory trade union membership.

"The Workplace Relations Bill says it supports voluntary union membership because Labour knows that's what the public wants. But then the Bill makes it all but inevitable that all workers will join a union. This is achieved through a convoluted series of measures. Labour is hiding the Bill's true impact by subterfuge.

"Today, collective contract agreements are negotiated between employers and staff. There is no requirement for union involvement. Labour promises to change that. Under the WRB unions have the automatic right to negotiate all collective agreements.

"Any place where there are two or more workers employed, the union can arrive, invited or uninvited, on an employer's doorstep and start negotiating either a new collective agreement, if one doesn't exist, or take over an existing collective agreement..

"If a union muscles in and negotiates a collective agreement in an unlawful way that doesn't make a collective agreement invalid or unenforceable.

"Employees are legally prohibited from negotiating a better contract for themselves, because any individual contract cannot be inconsistent with the collective agreement.

"The combination of these factors is to prevent employers and employees negotiating their own contracts and gives to unions the right to negotiate virtually all employment contracts in the country.

"It is de facto compulsory unionism hidden in a Bill which champions voluntary membership. There is no sense in having the freedom to choose to join a union if there are not benefits derived from that choice.

"The WRB takes away legislated rights now available to employees to negotiate their own contractual terms. If employees can achieve no more than the Union they might as well join it.

"There is no room for promoting unions or union collectivity in a modern economy. Labour's surrender to the Council of Trade Union's Workplace Relations Bill is the first step. Any influence the militant pro-Alliance Trade Union Federation has on the final outcome of a Labour-Alliance industrial relations package should send alarm bells ringing through every employer and employee in the country.

"The ECA has a proven track record of reducing industrial unrest and increasing jobs. Polls say it is what most New Zealanders want and it is good for the economy.

"We are heading into the 21st century, but unfortunately any Labour-Alliance industrial relations policy will take us back at least fifty years," said Mrs Schnauer.


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