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National Clarifies Worker Rights Policy

MEDIA RELEASE

06 March 2008

National Clarifies Worker Rights Policy

“Comments from John Key to a Christchurch radio station this morning have now confirmed National’s approach to worker rights this election,” Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said today.

Yesterday the CTU called on National to come clean on worker rights after spokesperson Kate Wilkinson’s comments to an Auckland business audience fudged National’s intentions in this area. John Key confirmed that the contents of a May 2007 speech by Kate Wilkinson was still National’s policy, but he did not clarify why they were so reticent yesterday to continue promoting it.

“Despite the softly, softly approach from Kate Wilkinson yesterday, it’s not surprising they’re reticent,” Helen Kelly said.

Last year Wilkinson admitted that under National:

• Employers would have the right to dismiss workers unfairly for a probationary period, and perhaps indefinitely in small business

• Workers could be forced to sell their fourth week of annual leave

• Vulnerable workers (such as cleaners) would lose rights to keep their jobs after a business was sold or transferred.

• Employers could force workers on to individual agreements

• ACC would be privatiased

• Statutory holiday pay could be cut

• Union rights would be reduced

• Benefits and Working for Families would be reduced to force people into low paid work.

“We are still waiting for any policies which will actually benefit workers,” Kelly said.

“Rather than try and reassure workers that all will be well if they are elected, National needs to be upfront with their intentions and let workers scrutinise them,” she said.

ENDS

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