24 July 2008
National’s Workplace Policy: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
“National’s Employment and Workplace Relations Policy is a gift to employers wrapped in the language of “reasonableness,” said Laila Harré, National Secretary of the National Distribution Union in response to the release of the policy today.
“This policy will keep wages down in the rapidly growing service industries where unionisation and collective bargaining is just starting to recover and deliver improvements for some of the lowest paid workers in the country.”
“The attempt to shift the balance of power in a workplace even more towards employers is dressed up in the weasel words of the policy document,” she said.
“The addition of the words ‘with employer’s consent’ to ‘continue to allow union access to workplaces’ simply means that unions can be banned from the workplace.”
“Allowing non-union collective bargaining does not enhance workers’ rights. It’s just a power grab by employers, restoring a core element of the Employment Contracts Act which allowed employers to lock workers out of genuine collective bargaining for wages and conditions in favour of non-union collective employment contracts drafted by employers and their high paid consultants.”
“This combination of restricting union access and bypassing independent union representation for workers in collective bargaining seem designed to put a brake on unions like the NDU and Unite. Our use of union access and collective bargaining rights has delivered significant pay rises, an end to youth rates and greater job security in more and more retail, fast food and entertainment companies. Employers have obviously told the National Party they have had enough of having to deal with unions who are forcing wages above the minimum.”
“National says it supports the social partnership between the CTU and Business New Zealand on issues of mutual interest and then announces a policy that will gut the rights of the lowest paid workers to organise and bargain through unions and get a voice at that partnership table. If they are not there already then they won’t be welcome.”