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Workplace Relations Minister Is Misleading New Zealanders, Say Unions

The new Workplace Relations Minister Brooke van Velden must be upfront with the public, say the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.

NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff said yesterday’s Newstalk ZB interview with Minister van Velden contained false information.

“The NZCTU was categorically not consulted on repealing Fair Pay Agreements by the new Minister.

“It is very concerning that the Minister of Workplace Relations doesn’t understand what consultation is in practice, considering the importance of this concept for the portfolio.”

Wagstaff said that the public announcement of FPAs being repealed before Christmas was made at the same time that the NZCTU first met with the Minister.

“We are unsure if the timing of the meeting was deliberate, and whether it was done so she could pretend that consultation did happen.

“Genuine consultation cannot occur if a decision has already been reached by the Minister.

“At no point did the Minister say she wanted to consult on FPAs. She asked us ‘to explain what an FPA was’ and 'to give her an update on our thinking on where they are up to'.

“She did suggest she was weighing things up, but we were not invited to brief her properly on FPAs as part of a consultation Cabinet paper process.

“At no point were alternate options canvassed, nor was the government’s position, timetable, or the possible consequences of the end of FPAs discussed.”

Wagstaff said Minister van Velden invited him to a meeting after receiving the NZCTU’s written Briefing to the Incoming Government, and that during the half hour meeting, Fair Pay Agreements were discussed for ten minutes.

Wagstaff said, “We want to have a constructive relationship with this Government, in the way we have been able to do with all previous Governments. This is not the start we would’ve hoped for.”

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