E tū, the biggest private-sector union in New Zealand, is pleased with most of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill announced by the Government today.
E tū National Secretary Bill Newson says that the process is “off to a flying start”, with many improvements for working people and their unions.
Bill says the changes recognise the pressing concerns about the personal and economic cost of low wages and inequality.
“This Government has made fixing inequality a top priority. Wages are a huge factor in this, so strengthening the rights of workers and their unions is critical,” Bill says.
“We see this bill as a big leap forward towards a fair and equitable society.”
Bill says the changes restore many of the rights that were taken away by the last Government.
“We can celebrate some big wins for all workers, such as the restoration of statutory rest and meal breaks and the restoration of reinstatement as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal.”
Bill says working people will also be in a better position thanks to strengthened collective bargaining and union rights.
“Unions will have improved access to workplaces, making unions more available to their members and prospective members. It’s also great that employers will be required to pass on information about active unions – people need to know about the best vehicle for their voice in the workplace. Paid time for union delegates to represent their colleagues will be a much-deserved recognition of the important work that union delegates carry out.
“In short, what we are seeing is the reversal of much of National’s damaging industrial relations policies, along with some exciting new initiatives.”
However, E tū is disappointed that 90-day trial periods could remain for employers with 20 or fewer workers.
“There isn’t a majority in parliament in support of scrapping the 90-day ‘fire at will’ law in its entirety, which is disappointing,” Bill says.
“This is the nature of a coalition government under MMP. It’s now our task, as part of the wider labour movement, to improve this part of the bill.
“We’ll be there at select committees to explain why any ‘fire at will’ law is both unfair and unnecessary.”
Bill Newson will be available for media interviews this afternoon.
For more information or comment:
Bill Newson – 027 538 4246