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Undemocratic process for extreme new diktat

28 September 2004

Undemocratic process for extreme new diktat

A very controversial addition to the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill - a requirement for non-union members to pay bargaining fees to fund unions - was tabled in the middle of Parliamentary recess yesterday.

A bargaining fee provision had been removed from the Bill when it returned to Parliament two weeks ago, presumably to prevent comment at that time. Being tabled now minimises the opportunity for debating the measure.

It is even more controversial given an employer cannot object to the inclusion of a bargaining fee in collective employment agreements.

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw said the Government's conversion to union bargaining fees deserved as much public scrutiny as possible, and the late amendment was not facilitating that.

"Requiring bargaining fees to be deducted from the wages of non-union employees and paid to unions in workplaces where there is a collective employment agreement - this is getting close to compulsory unionism. Allowing individuals to opt out of paying fees sounds good in theory only - workplace influences will see many employees pressured into either the collective or the fee," Mr Carlaw said.

"The Government's employment legislation now incorporates some extreme directives. For example, any two unionised employees can bring about a collective agreement in their workplace even if all other employees and the employer object. And the so-called 'good faith' rules mean employers can be forced into multi-employer collectives against their will. Now add in compulsory fees channelled into union coffers if a secret ballot stacked with union members says so. Again, the employer can't object: the amendment says disagreeing with a bargaining fee isn't a "genuine reason" not to have it.

"The extreme nature of these diktats, the measures taken to obstruct public debate, and the overall effect of this package of employment law do not in any way reflect good faith."


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