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National Will Retain And Strengthen ECA - Shipley

"You will see National retain and strengthen the Employment Contracts Act to promote further job growth," Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said to a business audience today.

Speaking at an ASB and Wellington Regional Commerce luncheon Mrs Shipley outlined National's commitment to the Employment Contracts Act and improving employment legislation.

"By any analysis the ECA has been a stunning success. We've got more jobs, less workplace disruptions and people are solving their own problems without recourse to Wellington or to trade unions.

"Before the ECA unemployment was at 11 per cent. If it were still that high today there would be 90,000 more unemployed by 2002, which is the entire workforce of Otago.

"Our challenge now is how we can further improve our employment law. We want to encourage employers to take the risk of taking on new staff, and we want employees to take up job offers.

"We believe probationary arrangements in the ECA need discussion and attention so more new workers are offered jobs in a fair way.

"National will establish a process to get agreement among employers, unions and young people as to how we can best get this outcome without eroding rights or entitlements.

"Two other technical areas also need looking at. The first is the Holidays Act which is now outdated.

"The arrangements surrounding holidays must be updated to reflect the new workplace and our social expectations of work. We will not reduce entitlements but make them clearer and fairer so people don't have to go to the Courts to get them defined.

"The second area requiring attention is the personal grievance arrangements under the ECA. We do not believe that minor breaches of the PG process should outweigh the substance of an employee's misconduct.

Mrs Shipley said job creation was one of the best tools available to improve the well being of individuals and their families.

"If we go back on our employment law we will be turning our backs on some of the most vulnerable people in New Zealand. We must not go back on the ECA," Mrs Shipley said.

ENDS

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