CTU MEDIA RELEASE
24 September 2008
Real National work rights policy revealed today
“Despite the softly softly rhetoric National leader John Key let the cat out of the bag today by confirming if National were elected the Employment Contracts Act mark II would be again foisted on workers,” Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said today.
“Speaking to the PSA today National Leader John Key said that under National, there will be no changes to the rights of workers to negotiate collective agreements with unions as their ‘bargaining agent’.”
“But this is a fundamental change to workers’ rights as currently unions negotiate collective agreements covering their members. John Key is talking about the ECA type arrangements where unions were excluded as parties to collective agreements, and the union role was reduced to agents for individual workers that authorised such bargaining.”
“This meant that new workers could not automatically get coverage under the collective agreement, even when they joined the union. New workers were offered individual agreements often on lesser terms then those already in the workplace.”
“The trouble with all of this is it is extremely technical and John Key is hoping to hide behind that to cover up the real impact of these changes for workers and their ability to negotiate fair wages. Workers certainly felt the impact of the ECA, losing many terms and conditions and seeing their real wages decline, but they often didn’t understand the technical reasons for the law being so ineffective in protecting their interests.”
“Once you reduce unions to bargaining agents, allow collective agreements to be settled by groups other than unions, reduce union access to worksites and remove many personal grievance rights – all of which National are now admitting they would do – you simply have the ECA again.”
“This is what happens when you only release a one-page policy on an important area of law like employment relations. We actually do need to see more detail from National. John Key needs to be honest about this and not try to fool working people into believing it’s all business as usual,” Helen Kelly said.