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Real Changes Needed To Erb: Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers is demanding that the Government does more than tinker at the edges of the Employment Relations Bill.

The federation's Vice President Tom Lambie said today that substantive changes must be made to the Bill in order to maintain agriculture's strong performance, and to maintain general business confidence.

Mr Lambie singled out the Bill's threat to the status of independent contractors, the proposed right for strikes in favour of multi-employer agreements, and the inability of employers to replace striking workers.

"These issues are fundamental to the flexibility required in the modern exporting industries. To impinge on the employment relationship that best suits an organisation's needs, or to add costs through lengthy strikes, will be counter productive and severely damaging our export-led economy, Mr Lambie said."

"The Government should introduce changes to the legislation that encourages workplace flexibility and job growth, rather than adhering to outdated, ideological dogma that had destroyed jobs and stifle economic growth in the past," he concluded.

Mr Lambie noted that agriculture was employing more people, paying more and working fewer hours. Productivity improvements in downstream processing have underpinned the continued growth of the pastoral farming sector.

Labour productivity in agricultural processing industries has risen markedly during the 1990's. From 1989-1998, Meat and Dairy income per hour worked has increased on average by 6.4% per annum, compared to an annual increase of 3.0% in 1979 to 1988. The level of industry income per labour hour worked has increased by 85% since 1998, and by 139% since 1978.

During the 1990's, wage and salary growth in the Meat and Dairy industries has more accurately reflected the industries' financial performance, and ultimately, the productivity of its employees.

The level of hours worked in these manufacturing industries has been relatively stable since 1990, yet the level of income per hour worked has continued to increase.

ENDS

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

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