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Labour employment policy deals w important issues

Maritime Union media release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sunday 26 October 2008

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has welcomed the release of the Labour Party's policy for employment relations today.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says it is important that the policy has focussed on providing protections for workers in a time of global economic turmoil.

"The Maritime Union position is that we need to pay more attention to the job security and stability for workers, and this policy has taken these issues on board."

He says the announcement of statutory minimum standards for redundancy is essential given the fact that the employment outlook would be worsening due to the international economic situation.

"The Maritime Union will be arguing that these minimum standards need to be realistic for workers."

Mr Hanson says the Union is pleased to hear the Government will be working to improve the situation of workers in precarious employment, who are threatened by casualization and contracting out.

He says this is a legacy of the 1990s National Government that was still causing problems.

"We appreciate the recent work that has been done in this area by the Government and New Zealand First, and immediate action is needed to deal with the problem of insecure jobs."

He says the Union looks forward to further specifics in this area which is a major concern to maritime workers.

Mr Hanson says the retraining policy, which extends financial support to workers made redundant after five years in the workforce, is a positive move.

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He says the indexing of the minimum wage to increases in the cost of living and average wage is a welcome move that will ensure low paid workers are not left behind, but the base line level needs to increase to at least $15 per hour.

The Maritime Union also supports the new policy's extension of the right to strike when employers initiate restructuring/outsourcing which undermines a collective agreement, as this had been a problem in the maritime industry.

Mr Hanson says support for multi-employer collective agreements is a positive, as this will reduce the downward pressure on wages and conditions in industries such as the port industry.

"The Maritime Union would like to move towards one-port agreements where workers are no longer the meat in the sandwich in a hyper-competitive environment."

He says moves to stop freeloading by non-union members on union-negotiated agreements are also fair, but cautioned that there needs to be greater regulation of whether unions are operating at arms length from employers, as in the maritime industry there were several unions that he believed were not acting independently but it was hard to prove.


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