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Govt retreats on labour law, defies union backers

The Government appears to have heeded National’s warnings on the likely economic damage from its labour law changes, retreating from the worst elements in defiance of its union backers, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesman Scott Simpson says.

“New Zealand is weathering the worst year of strikes in three decades thanks to the Government’s message to its union affiliates that higher wages are in the offing. At the same time the Government has attempted to dismantle one of the key pillars of economic growth.

“National has opposed the Employment Relations Amendment Bill at every turn, seeking to overturn a package of concessions that empower the union movement and shackle workplaces to less flexible employment rules.

“It is extraordinary that the Government wants to push on with an overhaul of labour law despite figures today that show the jobless rate is falling and employment is growing. But it is testament to the deep ties between Labour Ministers and the unions.

“Those deep ties must be strained as the Government seeks to backtrack on changes like ending the 90-day rule, forcing businesses into collective contracts and multi-employer collective agreements (MECAs) and giving union officials unfettered access to workplaces.

“Labour may be telling the unions that the back down is at the behest of its coalition partner, New Zealand First, which has undoubtedly heard from businesses large and small of the economic hardship they will face.

“Businesses were ignored during the development of a Bill that will add to their costs, hurt productivity, stifle innovation and do nothing to improve the position of workers.

“A good industrial relations framework and a flexible labour market are critical to a strong and growing economy and a future National-led Government will repeal this attempt to take us back to 1970s-style adversarial union activity.”


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