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Business Uncertainty Has Its Economic Consequences

In addressing the Select Committee hearing submissions on the Employment Relations Bill David Moloney, President of the New Zealand Manufacturers Federation, warned that continued uncertainty over the ramifications of the Employment Relations Bill was a key element in the recent down turn in confidence in the manufacturing sector.

This lack of confidence has translated into poor investment intentions with manufacturers also indicating a reducing willingness to take on new staff.

“The very recent announcement of the Government’s that it is prepared to reconsider some elements of the Bill is a start”, said Mr Moloney. “I think, however, that manufacturers are likely to take a sceptical line until they see the details of what is actually being proposed.

“Today, and in our written submission, we have strongly advocated that the Bill contain a clause setting out a process for automatic review. The inclusion of a review process in the Act would provide a signal to business and industry of the Government’s recognition both of apprehensions about the impact of the Bill and the difficulty of accurately delivering all of the Bill’s objectives as intended to real workplaces. It would enable unforeseen practical consequences of the Bill’s provisions to be addressed. It would permit changed circumstances to be taken into account, and would recognise that not everybody will always have the same understanding of ‘good faith’.

“The single most significant issue by far for manufacturers relates to those aspects of the Bill requiring provision of information under the requirements of good faith bargaining. Manufacturers have seen this requirement as having a direct impact on their ability to remain competitive. ManFed has strongly recommended that the Bill allow for parties to collective bargaining to provide the requested information to independent third party – perhaps an “employment ombudsman” – for assessment as to its relevance to the bargaining process and to determine the manner of its release, if at all.

“ManFed has argued that such a change would go a considerable way towards addressing manufacturers concerns while also meeting the intentions of the Bill. It is, therefore, pleasing to note that the Government appears willing to seriously consider implementing the recommended change.

“The Government can be assured that manufacturers will be watching developments with the Bill with keen interest over the next week or so, and look forward to having the further opportunity to formally make their views known to Government via the Select Committee process once the proposed changes have been announced.”


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