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Labour’s Hidden IR Agenda

Spotting Labour’s hidden agenda will be the biggest challenge during Labour’s industrial relations policy launch tomorrow, Enterprise and Commerce Minister Max Bradford says.

“Labour is likely to do exactly what it did in 1984, when its policies were either non-existent or were so general that you could drive a truck through them.

“In the case of Labour’s industrial relations policy, we already know that Labour would take away the right of people seeking to form a collective contract to choose their own bargaining agent.

“Labour would give monopoly bargaining rights to unions and therefore force workers to join unions.

“This backdoor attempt at reintroducing compulsory unionism is a major erosion of workers rights. However, it is what is not mentioned in tomorrow’s policy that should be of major concern,” Mr Bradford said.

“It is no coincidence that Labour chose to release its industrial relations and welfare policies this week, while media attention was focused on Apec and East Timor.

“Voters can be sure that what is not specifically outlined will come straight from the Council of Trade Union’s Workplace Relations Bill.

Labour industrial relations policy spokesman Pete Hodgson has already described the union bill as a “good first cut”.

“What is more, the CTU policy was written by high labour list candidate Margaret Wilson, who would become Attorney General in a Labour-Alliance bloc government.

“The Employment Contracts Act has produced huge benefits for New Zealanders over the last eight years.

“The simple fact is that unions are not popular with most New Zealanders.

“The ECA gives the unions exactly the same rights to represent employees as any other bargaining agent. Yet since 1991, the percentage of the workforce represented by unions has fallen from 35 per cent to under 20 per cent.

“Labour’s policy to hand back monopoly powers to unions is a return to the industrial policies of the 1970s and 1980s, when unions had the upper-hand in New Zealand’s workplace,” Mr Bradford said.

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