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National’s priorities way off the mark with work rights bill

19 March 2014

National’s priorities way off the mark with work rights bill

If National spent as much time working on improving wages as they spend making it harder for workers to bargain collectively we would all be much better off, FIRST Union said today.

The second reading of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill is expected in Parliament this afternoon.

The Bill weakens collective bargaining provisions, puts access to meal and rest breaks at risk and puts more barriers in the way of workers taking industrial action in support of a wage claim.

“At both our mass membership meetings last August and our current round of member meetings, workers expressed concern around proposals allowing employers to walk away from collective bargaining, rather than the existing duty to conclude negotiations in good faith,” FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said.

“National’s employment law changes would also remove the right to a proper meal and rest break. Many of our members work in high pressure retail stores, and already struggle to get their breaks on time.”

“What John Key has constantly failed to accept is that unions are part of the solution to our low wage crisis. Collective bargaining is one of the most effective tools workers have to lift their wages.”

“John Key has long stopped talking about closing the wage gap with Australia. Rather than taking our work rights backwards, he would do us all a favour by coming up with a credible plan to address low wages in New Zealand.”

ENDS

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