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Greens: Policies for workers must be fair for all

17 September 2008

Greens: Policies for workers must be fair for all

The Green Party today publicly launched its Industrial Relations policy for the 2008 election.

"Low paid workers and their families should not be left to unfairly carry the costs of climate change, rising fuel and food prices and the fall out from the US subprime crisis. It is more important than ever that workers are treated well," Greens Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford said this morning.

Many wage increases have not kept pace with inflation over the last few years despite economic and productivity growth, and small, piecemeal reforms of the Employment Relations Act are not addressing some of the structural problems with the legislation.

Key Green policies include:

* Lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately, then indexing it to no less than 66 percent of the average wage.

* A full review of the Employment Relations Act rather than ongoing piecemeal amendments.

* Significant resourcing of a separate Government agency linked to the Department of Labour focused on supporting the capacity of unions and employers to bargain MECAs (multi employer collective agreements); funding to help unions and employers with the extra costs of negotiating MECAs, with experienced mediators available to help with the process.

* Introducing a new framework for state sector collective bargaining aimed at ensuring consistency and fairness in employment conditions across the public service.

* Introducing an additional Monday-ised statutory holiday to fall between Queens Birthday weekend and Labour Weekend.

* Working to extend Paid Parental Leave to 13 months.

* Ongoing support for pay and employment equity, improved workplace health and safety, and for better working conditions for temporary, casual, part time and contract workers.

During this Parliamentary term the Green Party has chalked up some notable achievements for workers including Sue Bradford's private member's bill which ended most discriminatory youth rates for 16 and 17 year old workers as of April 2008, Sue Kedgley's private member's bill on flexible working hours which came into law in July 2008, and the Buy Kiwi Made programme - run as part of its cooperation agreement with Labour after the last election - aimed at supporting local manufacturing businesses and jobs.

"We stand on our record, but we know a lot more remains to be done to ensure a fairer society for all who contribute to our economic wellbeing," Ms Bradford says.

* The Green Party's Industrial Relations policy is available at: http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/summary/industrialrelations

ENDS

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