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Australian Unions Give Foretaste To National

Media Release

Attention : Australian Media/Industrial Political reporters

Sunday 3 July 2005

Australian Unions Give Foretaste To National

“The National Party can look across the Tasman as Australian Unions rallied and took strike action last week, to see what the reaction from workers in New Zealand would be to their industrial relations proposals involving more cuts to liveable wages,” said Paul Piesse, co-leader of the Alliance party today.

Paul Piesse was commenting on huge (100,000 plus) Australian rallies and strikes called during last week by the Australian Unions against John Howard using his majority in both Houses of Parliament to freeze and then cut the minimum wage in that country from 1 July and National’s statement they are looking to Australia for inspiration for their Employment Agreements Act.

“National’s proposals for the coming election would worsen the real and minimum wages of workers from the parlous state they already are in as a result of the ongoing effects of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991. In New Zealand the minimum wage is only NZ$9.50 per hour as opposed to roughly $15 in Australia.”

“New Zealand workers are still trying to recover overtime, penal rates, redundancy payments, and a liveable minimum wage from cuts made after the 1991 Employment Contracts Act, with pay rates now 30% lower than in Australia,” said Paul Piesse.

“National says it will bring in a new Act incorporating the “best” of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 and the Employment Relations Act 2000,” said Paul Piesse. “New Zealand Workers will spot the trick this time and follow the lead of their Australian colleagues in resisting it.”

“A bitter fight will ensue if National tries to introduce what will become known as the Employment Disagreements Act.“

ENDS

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