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New Paint Job, Same old Bill

13 September, 2004

New Paint Job, Same old Bill

The select committee report on the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill is disappointing, New Zealand Business Roundtable policy advisor Norman LaRocque said today.

"The select committee has opted for the policy equivalent of 'Changing Rooms', rather than the 'Extreme Makeover' required.

"Both the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill and the existing Employment Relations Act are fundamentally flawed. Yet ministers and other proponents of this legislation have still failed to produce evidence to justify heaping more regulation on employers and more controls on employees.

"The worst aspects of the Bill remain, including changes to the definition of good faith, personal grievance provisions, measures in the bill aimed at promoting compulsory unionism, collective bargaining and national awards and the provisions relating to the transfer or sale of a business.

"In a few cases, these have been toned down but such changes are, for the most part, cosmetic. They are more about politics than policy. Any positive moves are offset by backward changes such as the extension of restructuring clauses to include contracting in.

"The subjective nature of many clauses will increase uncertainty for businesses, while the large number of 'clarifications' in the committee's report are a worrying sign about what lies ahead.

"Business representative groups made many positive proposals to the select committee. These have been ignored. The Bill is driven largely by ideology and discredited assumptions about power 'imbalances' in the labour market.

"Fundamentally, this legislation will do nothing to raise the standard of living for New Zealanders," Mr LaRocque concluded.


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