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Urgent need for rethink on unfair employment changes

2 September 2013

Urgent need for rethink on unfair employment changes

The country’s largest union is calling on the government to delay progress on unfair employment law changes in the face of growing opposition and the threat they pose to international labour conventions.

The Public Service Association, which represents 58,000 members, is today (Sept 2) presenting its formal submission on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill to parliament’s Transport and Industrial Relations select committee.

It’s significant that about 7500 PSA members also made form submissions on the Bill while another 345 have lodged their own personal submissions.

The Bill introduces a raft of legislative changes which attack workers’ rights and will make it harder to get a fair deal through collective bargaining.

The PSA negotiates hundreds of collective agreements across the public and state sectors and believes the Bill is in part targeted at collective bargaining in the public sector.

An earlier cabinet paper on the legislation suggested that it could be used by the government to bring down wages and influence negotiations as part of its drive to reduce public sector spending.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says “moves to water down collective bargaining by allowing employers to walk away from the table without settlement are top concerns for PSA members as collective bargaining is the key mechanism in delivering better wages and conditions.”

The PSA also believes no New Zealander will want to see legislation passed which could be in breach of international labour conventions.

ILO guidelines make it clear that sound collective bargaining practices allow both sides to negotiate fair employment relationships, promote better wages and prevent costly labour disputes.

“This legislation runs completely counter to that and what is worse is that the Labour Minister Simon Bridges has acknowledged that,” Richard Wagstaff says.

“By giving employers more power the government is setting up a more troubled and litigious industrial relations environment and workers will end up paying the price with lower wages.”

“The government needs to acknowledge the increasing opposition from New Zealand workers to these unfair changes.”

The PSA is calling on the government to delay progress on the Bill and any further changes to the rules around collective bargaining, and take steps to ensure that any legislative changes are properly researched and analysed.
ends

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