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National's Workplace Policy Reflects Common Sense

"National's employment law proposals would give New Zealand a much better chance of raising economic growth and achieving full employment than the Employment Relations Act", Roger Kerr, executive director of the New Zealand Business Roundtable, said today.

"A free and flexible labour market is a major competitive advantage in today's global economy. Improving employment law is a vital factor in enabling New Zealand business to grow and in attracting international investment.

"National is right to say that employers and employees should be free to make their own decisions about their employment relationships within a simple set of rules. There is no need for a complex 200-page statute like the ERA.

"The specific changes proposed by National reflect basic common sense. They recognise that the law should not be tilted either for or against unions or for or against collective bargaining.

"The proposals acknowledge important weaknesses of the former Employment Contracts Act, in particular the mandatory personal grievance procedures and the failings of the Employment Court. Allowing parties the right for a trial period to opt out of personal grievance provisions by mutual agreement will help the job prospects of marginal workers. There is a good case for broadening this provision ­ starting and ending employment relationships must be made easier if New Zealand is to achieve full employment.

"It is also pleasing that National has confirmed its intention to open up the ACC scheme to competition. The renationalisation of ACC was an ideologically driven backward move.

"The government's own projections are indicating that under present policies it is not on track to achieving its goals of restoring New Zealand's income rankings and getting the unemployment rate down to 3 percent", Mr Kerr concluded. "National's economic, tax and employment policies are shaping up as a credible programme for achieving those goals." For further information:

Mr Roger Kerr Executive Director New Zealand Business Roundtable Tel: (04) 499-0790

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