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OECD report sets agenda for big business

5 July 2005

OECD report sets agenda for big business

The OECD reports that while the New Zealand economy has strengthened in recent years, it suffers from a lack of "flexibility" in the labour market.

Alliance co-leader Jill Ovens says this is code for attacks on workers' rights to bargain collectively to improve their pay and conditions, and for attacks on workers' organisation through their unions.

"It is no accident this report has been released just before an election and that National has jumped on it as proof that we need to return to the ECA [Employment Contracts Act] era," Ms Ovens says.

The OECD report states that changes in labour laws that encourage collective bargaining and the introduction of a fourth week of annual leave undermine the ability of workers to shift to more productive industries.

"How can anyone believe this nonsense?" Ms Ovens says.

"Workers figured out a long time ago that banding together to fight for better pay and decent work was the only way to improve their lot against the power and greater resources of employers."

The Alliance says "labour flexibility" means getting more out of workers by making them work more for less pay.

"The object is to extract more profits. That's it, pure and simple.

"The recipe is clear - reduce the ability of unions to organise workers by turning them into mere bargaining agents, slash the number of workers and increase unemployment, cut benefits to put pressure on low-paid workers to work for even less."

The report also advocates more privatisation of public assets, including the remainder of the electricity industry, the majority of which is still publicly owned.

"Privatisation means huge profits for multinationals like Telecom and Telstra and the energy giants. We have had our railways asset stripped by private owners for 15 years and now the government has to fix up the mess.

"The Alliance stands with the great majority of New Zealanders in upholding public ownership of vital economic infrastructure and services," Ms Ovens says.

The Alliance was instrumental in preventing the total sale of the Ports of Auckland in the 1990s and supports the efforts of the Auckland Regional Council, led by Mike Lee, to uphold Bruce Jesson's legacy by buying back the 20 percent of the Port company that was sold.

"We are the only political party standing in the up-coming election on a platform of ending and reversing privatisation." - see www.alliance.org.nz

In trotting out its tired prescriptions, the OECD is backing a return to the failed neo-liberal policies of the past which saw the loss of the 'family silver', hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs destroyed, and workers' incomes and benefits slashed. The OECD programme also means the continued loss of control of their country by New Zealanders.

The Alliance says "Take the power back".

ENDS

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