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Modernising New Zealand's workplaces

An extra week annual holiday, twelve weeks paid parental leave, an increase in the minimum wage and a pay equity law are the main features of the Alliance workplace relations policy released today.

Workplace relations spokesperson Laila Harré released the policy at a Service Workers Union conference in Auckland.

She told the conference that if working New Zealanders want to modernise minimum conditions in the workplace they would have to vote Alliance.

'The Alliance sees modernising minimum conditions in the workplace as its key role in industrial relations reform as the heart of a new government.

'The Alliance is aware that these are policies not supported by Labour. If working New Zealanders want twelve weeks paid parental leave, pay equity and an extra week of paid annual holidays, they need to vote Alliance so that we have the bargaining strength to negotiate for them.

'Labour has said that if we don't have significant electoral support, we won't get many of our policies. That also means that if people do vote Alliance, then we can negotiate with some strength for policies such as twelve weeks paid parental leave, an extra weeks holiday and pay equity.

'This is a package that will singificantly improve wages and conditions for working New Zealanders.'New Zealand workers are experiencing the twin problems of over-work and unemployment. An extra week of annual leave is a constructive response to both. It creates more jobs because some businesses will hire more staff to cover the holidays of existing staff.'

A recent survey showed that 54% of employers supported an increase to 4 weeks annual leave. Annual holidays were last extended in 1974, when the minimum entitlement was raised from two weeks to three, and employment opportunities were not jeopardised as a result

'With a change of government the minimum wage could be increased before Christmas. Workers on the minimum wage now are paid just $280 a week. If they're under 20 they get even less. The Alliance will legislate to put all workers on a minimum income of $300 a week.

There is overwhelming support for a paid parental leave scheme. Under the Alliance policy, employers will be able to afford to give staff twelve weeks paid parental leave because it will cost an average of only $1.50 a week per employee to provide a central fund. The cost of parental leave will be spread across the workforce, instead of loaded solely onto new parents.

'Pay equity legislation is needed simply because women's pay has remained stuck at about 80% of the level of men's pay,' Laila Harré said.


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