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Labour employment relations policy

26 October 2008 Media Statement

Labour employment relations policy: Supporting kiwi workers and kiwi jobs

Labour will continue to improve working conditions for Kiwis and strengthen support for workers facing tough times during the global economic crisis, Labour Relations Spokesman Trevor Mallard announced today.

"Labour is committed to ensuring we have a plan in place to help all our people move forward – a plan that does not abandon the most at-risk Kiwi workers. The employment relations policy we are releasing today will help strengthen the position of workers, giving them greater security in times of change such as redundancy and restructuring," Trevor Mallard said on the eve of Labour Day.

"Our policy will support kiwi workers and kiwi jobs through tough times while also focussing on helping economic growth. It builds on Helen Clark's promise to boost apprenticeships and more industry training, and Labour's commitment to introduce a retraining allowance for those made redundant after five years in the workforce, and for those who’ve worked for ten years and wish to upskill.

"Labour's policy is about protecting and enhancing the rights of workers, as well as giving people security in times of change. Labour believes that employment relations legislation should recognise that the balance of power and influence between workers and employers is not equal and the best way to address this is to promote collective bargaining as the preferred means of establishing the rights and obligations of workers.

"We will enable more support for Multi Employer Collective Agreements in employment law. We believe these types of agreements have benefits for workers and employers in terms of sector-wide improvements in skills and services, and greater job satisfaction. We will also ensure only union members can obtain the benefits of union-negotiated agreements," Trevor Mallard said.

The main points of Labour's employment relations policy are:

- New statutory minimum standards for redundancy compensation and a statutory minimum notice period for employees

- Workers to be able to take strike action, if necessary, when employers initiate restructuring/outsourcing during the term of a collective agreement which undermines a collective agreement.

- Encourage notification to government agencies of potential or upcoming redundancy situations and refine the coordinated rapid response by government agencies to raise awareness about the support available.

- Greater statutory support for multi-employer collective bargaining.

- Ensure only union members can obtain the benefits of union-negotiated agreements.

- Guaranteed annual adjustments to the minimum wage during the next term of government, so that the minimum wage at least keeps pace with increases in the average wage or the consumer price index, whichever is the greater.

- More active labour market policies and programmes which provide security and support for workers in a changing economy.

The full policy document and a summary of the policy is available at

More information:

  • Employment Relations Summary
  • Employment Relations Policy
  • ENDS

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