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Plea to Govt. practice good faith, allow more time

Media statement Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

EMA's plea to Government: Practice good faith, allow more time

The Prime Minister need not fear that business will engage in the process of trying to stop or radically alter the Employment Relations Reform Bill, which is more than her Government allowed business in the shaping of it, the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) says.

"The Government would demonstrate good faith if it were to allow a reasonable time to consult our member organisations before making submissions on the proposed new employment law," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"We haven't been able to do that yet because everyone has been on holiday for the past four weeks.

"Our position is not 'silly rhetoric' but a plea for Government to observe the requirements of good faith it is so keen for everyone else to practice.

"Government could show it's not arrogant, and that it is open to reason over the new law if it were to extend the deadline for making submissions by those four weeks.

"In that case the Prime Minister really could say her Government allowed 'the best part of three months' to consider the Bill and respond to it.

"Otherwise she's disingenuous to make a claim that is plainly lacking in good faith.

"The PM's belittling of employers efforts to consult members and form a balanced and representative view of the new employment law framework is inconsistent with her traditions of participatory democracy.

"Employers were not consulted over the amendments to the proposed new law which our legal advice affirms is much more than 'minor fine tuning'.

"Our study thus far indicates it will have major, far reaching consequences for employers and employees. As it stands, lawyers and the courts will be arguing over many of its provisions for years to come.

"It's a far cry from Labour Minister Margaret Wilson's stated ambition when she introduced the Employment Relations Act in 2000 that she wanted to see litigation removed from the employment scene. The present Bill will see legal argument over it increase ten fold."

ENDS

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