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Wilson Out Of Touch With Reality

Margaret Wilson is plain wrong when she says the Employment Contracts Act has not led to increased productivity, Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford says.

"Ms Wilson has been in her academic ivory tower so long she has lost touch with what is happening.

"Between 1993 and 1998 total factor productivity - the amount we were able to produce using our resources - increased at a faster rate than between 1974 and 1993.

"A study commissioned by the Treasury, Reserve Bank and the Department of Labour concluded this productivity growth was likely to have been aided by the ECA.

"From 1984 to 1992 total factor productivity fell, but under the ECA it increased at a rate of 1.5 per cent a year from 1992 to 1998."

Mr Bradford said Labour's plan to repeal the ECA would reduce productivity by making labour laws less flexible and imposing constraints on employers.

"The ECA has been good for growth and employment.

"Under National 259,000 jobs have been created over the last eight years. In contrast, when Labour was last in office 56,000 jobs were lost.

"Employment fell by 5.3 per cent in the five years to June 1991 and output fell by 1.8 per cent. In the five years after the ECA was introduced in 1991 employment grew by 18 per cent.

"The economy has grown a quarter larger than it was in 1991," Mr Bradford said.

"By abolishing the ECA, Margaret Wilson and Labour want to return New Zealand to a strike-ridden past.

"The country lost weeks of productivity and employees, weeks of pay, for uncertain gains.

"Under the ECA industrial conflict has fallen to its lowest level since 1935, with only 35 stoppages in 1998," Mr Bradford said.

"In the last three years, work stoppages involved about 106,000 lost working days and about $14 million in lost wages.

"In Labour's last term in government there were 8.5 times as many working days lost (905,960) and seven times more lost wages ($100 million).

"Labour says it will reinstate provisions for strike action over multi-company bargaining and bring back the bad old days of strikes - creating more work for unions.

"Companies that have no relationship to others will be dragged into strikes because of problems on other work sites.

"Ordinary workers will be forced to walk off the job or be ostracised.

"They will lose income, whether or not they support the strike action," Mr Bradford said.


ENDS

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