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Playing soccer is good for democracy

Playing soccer is good for democracy says Human Rights Commissioner

Where people's work/life balance enables them to join their local sports and social groups there is the basis for a productive and healthy democracy, Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner said at the launch of Finsec's work/life balance campaign in Wellington today.

Ms Noonan said that Robert Putnam's research into northern and southern Italy links poverty, corruption and violence to low levels of community participation.

It also finds that where people belong to local clubs and social groups economic and social development is strong.

Recent research into eight cities in India backs this up, she said.

Finsec's President Robyn Woller said that because of changes in the finance industry, which eroded employees' work/life balance, it was no longer possible for many of them to play a role in the community.

As well as commenting on the social and economic importance of work/life balance, both Rosslyn Noonan and CTU President Ross Wilson pointed to the low levels of economic productivity in the 1990s when work/life balance was eroded by the Employment Contracts Act.

"Labour productivity was surprisingly low during the last decade," said Ross Wilson. "It was about a quarter of Australia's, where there was no similar legislation.

"It took fifteen years to take workers back to the 19th Century," he said. "It will take us quite some time to complete the process of getting back to the 21st Century."

The Hon Ruth Dyson, MP who attended the launch commented afterwards on the importance of women's participation in the workforce.

"We have worked hard in this country for women's participation, particularly in the paid labour market," she said, "and there have been great improvements in that area. What we haven't done yet is get the right balance between paid and unpaid work."

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