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Helping unions help themselves

Media release
13 September 2004

Helping unions help themselves

The Employment Relations Law Reform Bill still represents a fundamental shift, further entrenching union power says Business NZ.

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says the bill as reported back today includes no real improvement from when it was first introduced, and in some areas it's worse.

"Under this bill, unions still move to the driving seat - nothing has changed in that regard.

"The bill still gives unions a favoured position - a monopoly over collectives plus several sweeteners to make their job easier and union membership artificially high.

"Employers can still be trapped into multi employer collectives against their will. There's been a cosmetic change only in this regard. Throughout our discussions with the CTU, the Minister and the select committee it has been crystal clear that multi-employer collectives are the key objective. Why, unless sooner or later the power that they would represent is to be used or misused?

"The enforced consultation that will harm commercial confidentiality is essentially unchanged.

"The inability to pay employees on individual agreements as much as those in collectives has been reinforced in favour of unions by a drop in the breach threshold.

"Dismissal law remains uncertain, promising further litigation.

"'Good faith' has been further expanded into unknown territory.

"The hazy definitions that were a feature of the original bill have been tweaked, but they're still 'slogan definitions' that will require litigation to clarify.

"Only unions, employment lawyers and the dispute machinery will benefit from this bill. Their challenge is to deliver greater economic productivity than the bill on its own will produce."


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