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Another Shackle On Business

20 May 2004
Another Shackle On Business

Proposed changes to employment law will further erode the freedom of farmers to decide how best to manage their farms to maximise productivity, said Hugh Ritchie, the employment spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand (FFNZ).

Mr Ritchie made the comments today in a verbal submission to a Parliamentary select committee, which is considering the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill.

The bill proposes to require employers to consult with employees before a decision is made that may have an adverse effect on the employee's employment.

"This draconian proposal is opposed by Federated Farmers," Mr Ritchie said.

"It would mean that almost all significant decisions about how to run a farm would need to go via that employee before the decision is made. This could include what types of animals to farm, supply contracts, and crop selection."

Mr Ritchie, a central Hawke's Bay grains farmer and FFNZ national board member, said that farmers already consulted their employees on many aspects of farming.

"Consultation happens all the time. But farmers object to being forced to consult on what could be a vast array of subjects fundamental to the freedom associated with owning a business. Farmers are the ones with their capital at risk in a business, not employees who can leave at short notice," Mr Ritchie said.

"It is ironic that the Government sought to enhance good faith principles in the Act but chose not to consult with Federated Farmers at any stage before the Bill was introduced," he said.

Mr Ritchie said the bill was written for large employers rather than farmers, who run mainly small owner-operated businesses with under five employees.

"The legislation will also have a significant adverse effect on the ability of New Zealand farmers to compete internationally as it will stifle innovation behind and beyond the farm gate."


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