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Employment Relations Bill A Disaster For Nz

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EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BILL A DISASTER FOR NZ

"The ideologically driven Employment Relations Bill is a huge setback to economic growth and employment prospects in New Zealand. The government neither sought nor obtained a mandate to implement such sweeping changes", Roger Kerr, executive director of the New Zealand Business Roundtable, said today.

"The quality of a country's employment law is a huge factor - not a marginal one - in its attractiveness to local and international investors.

"America's relatively free and ununionised labour market has been a key to its success in achieving high rates of innovation and productivity growth and near full employment.

"The benefits of the Employment Contracts Act had already been undermined by the job-destroying decisions of the Employment Court. The ERB will make the employment environment far worse.

"The minor amendments to the Bill made by the select committee leave unchanged its basically flawed premise that firms and employees are not capable of working out for themselves the employment arrangements that suit them best. The notion that there is unfair bargaining power, no matter how competitive the industry, is simply Marxist nonsense. Neither small employers nor large ones can force anyone to work for them.

"Far from 'rebalancing' the law in workers' favour, the Bill will hurt workers - particularly the most vulnerable - and the unemployed, as well as firms.

"Employers who stay in New Zealand will create fewer jobs, and fewer overseas investors will be attracted here. Some jobs and employers will shift overseas.

"Unlike Margaret Wilson, business expects more, not less industrial disruption. This will harm the economy and inconvenience the public.

"The only clear beneficiaries from this legislation are union officials, who have been given back their old privileges and power.

"This legislation will put paid to any notion of 'closing the gaps' and makes a sham of Helen Clark's goal of a 3 percent unemployment rate.

"It also puts paid to claims that the government has been listening to business. The cosmetic changes it has made show that it is hard of hearing. If the situation is to be rescued at this late stage, voices other than business will have to be heard.

"The ERB is so ill-conceived and partisan a statute that it cannot possibly survive a change of government. But the government's failure to put overall New Zealand interests first, and the inevitability of its decisions being reversed, represent poor and unstable policy making which will cost New Zealand dearly in the eyes of all investors," Mr Kerr concluded.

Ends....

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