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New Labour Law Dictated by Unions

Posted on 02 Feb 2004

Read the Official Information Act release at the New Zealand Business Roundtable website.

Labour Minister Margaret Wilson must explain why so many aspects of her Employment Relations Law Reform Bill match the requests made by the Council of Trade Union (CTU) in a previously secret document, ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today.

“The New Zealand Business Roundtable has today released the CTU’s December 2002 submission on changes to labour law.  The document, marked “Confidential”, is frightening on two fronts.

“First, it reveals the union’s real agenda – a return to the dim days of compulsory unionism, arbitration and national awards.

“Second, it unveils similarities between the union’s demands and the government’s own legislation – both in breadth of scope, and in detail.  These similarities will be very difficult for the Minister to explain.

“The legislation actually adopts the exact wording of the CTU’s submission, time and time again.  This is beyond a coincidence.  It reeks of connivance, especially when business groups have been locked out of consultation. 

“Last week the prime minister haughtily told business organisations that their complaints were just “silly rhetoric”.  It is Helen Clark who now looks foolish for allowing this dangerous legislation to even reach parliament. 

“Was Ms Wilson so eager to cave to the demands of her union friends that she did not bother changing the union’s wording?  Or did she bank on this document – which took her four entire months to release under the Official Information Act – never seeing the light of day?  This certainly puts fish dinners in context. 

“The Employment Relations Law Reform Bill is a step backward.  The startling revelation that it is so closely based on one union’s demands goes a long way to explaining its anti-business nature – and is yet another reason why it should be dumped and labour law changes rewritten, based on the principles of sound public policy,” Mr Prebble said.


Richard Prebble CBE
Phone: 021 753 128
Fax:  04 473 3532
Sue Ryan, Press Secretary to Hon Richard Prebble MP
Phone: 04 470 6643  /  027 279 2437