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ERB Unworkable In Rural Areas: Federated Farmers

17 May 2000 PR39/2000

ER BILL UNWORKABLE IN RURAL AREAS: FEDERATED FARMERS

Federated Farmers told the Employment Relations Bill Select Committee today that the Bill's cumulative effect would be disastrous for New Zealand's rural sector.

The federation's Vice President, Tom Lambie, said that New Zealand's exporting industries could be damaged through increased strike and lockout actions, centered around multi-employer bargaining. Farmers compete in a harsh international market.

"The absence of costly strikes and increased employment flexibility in the processing industries during the 1990's been a major factor in regaining profitability in the farming sector," he said.

"Parts of the Bill are frankly unworkable in rural areas. Union officials will be given the power to enter farms without notice. But farms are also farmer's homes, and can be hazardous places to the unwary or uninformed visitor."

In general, Mr Lambie said that the Employment Relations Bill was written for large urban worksites, and that its inflexibility would lead to unworkable situations in the rural sector.

"In spite of the Minister's assurances , unless amended as we suggest, the Bill will be the end of independent contractors, such as sharefarming or rural delivery couriers."

"The Bill will also set back the Government's regional development agenda if it leads to disincentives for new businesses starting up. This can happen if employers' fear losing a competitive advantage in lower cost structure regions."

ENDS

For further information: Tom Lambie 026-113-161 Bruce Cottrill 025-426-101


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