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Government failing to listen on ERB


Media Release July 23rd, 2000

Government failing to listen on ERB

Despite the reassurances of the Prime Minister that Government would listen to business concerns over the Employment Relations Bill, any evidence of this has failed to materialise, says the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern).

"We can see no sign the Prime Minister is keeping her word," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"No notice has been taken of our major objections to the ERB's potential to add inflexibility and costs to business. This is unfair to both employers and employees and conflicts with the Prime Minister's 'charm offensive' letter of June 9th where she promised the new law would be "fair to employers and employees".

"The failure to listen is resulting in business losing faith in the Government, which is evident from the collapse of business and investor confidence. For two quarters on end business confidence has plumbed record lows. We predicted this could occur.

"The price that investors are willing to pay for the 2GHz telecommunication spectrum at five per cent of the pre auction forecast is a further measure of how far confidence has fallen.

"Business' relative silence over the Bill over the last couple of months should not be taken as a signal of acceptance of the Bill, nor of giving up over Government's apparent intractability.

"We have continued to try to get Government to recognise the pitfalls still in the Bill. If we had not pointed out the errors in the Bill's clauses on dependent contractors, fixed term contracts and the like, we would probably be saddled with those gross aberrations as well.

"Business organisations like ours have not kept up a constant barrage of opposition to the Bill because we expected the Government to get the message from the polls on investor confidence.

2.

"We are fully aware the depth of investor confidence should be given as few reasons as possible to sink lower, if lasting economic harm was to be avoided.

"If Government had been listening we would, at the very least have expected an overhaul of the clauses on multi employer bargaining and on the financial disclosure of information.

"For the former, it is unreasonable to ask managers to deal with issues outside their own business as the Bill requires.

"The proposed financial disclosure requirements are reported to be virtually as ridiculous as they were to begin with. Unions may end up getting more money for their members but the price of this will be investment and new jobs for their members.

"The Government has little time left to make meaningful changes to the Bill to avoid ongoing negative investor attitudes, which is an issue that will haunt Government's ability to meet its budgeted social programme."

Further comments: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911 (bus)


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