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Agriculture Scared Of Labour's Employment Policy

Food and Fibre Minister John Luxton today warned that the farming sector had every right to be deeply concerned about the Labour Party's policy to scrap the Employment Contracts Act as part of their sharp lurch to the left.

"It is worse than most people expected," said Mr Luxton following the Labour Party's industrial relations policy release today.

"Farmers recall the pre-Employment Contracts Act days when dairy factory workers were called out to strike at the peak of the milk flow in spring; when meat companies inevitably went on strike at the peak of the bobby calf or lamb kill season; when wharfies slept on the job and when agricultural exports were blacklisted. All of these are again possible outcomes as a result of Labour's policy to repeal the Employment Contracts Act," Mr Luxton said.

"The real political agenda of the Labour Party is to revitalise the union movement which allowed selective key sectors of the economy to be dramatically disrupted. Workers lost wages, farmers lost income and processing companies went broke. Strong unions in vulnerable industries extorted the agricultural sector for high wages when other very important parts of the community were paid much less."

"Any softening of the Employment Contracts Act provision would severely damage New Zealand's international export competitiveness in our key primary sectors of agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fishing."

Under the Employment Contracts Act management is obliged to work with employees. Industrial conflict has consequently fallen to its lowest level since 1935 and approximately a quarter of a million new jobs have been created in the New Zealand economy.

"New Zealand agriculture would be crippled by Labour/Alliance plans to scrap the Employment Contracts Act. A return to the strife torn days of the late 80's will create job losses, increase industrial conflict and increase farm costs," Mr Luxton concluded.


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