Companies are urging the Government to make changes to its Employment Relations Amendment Bill while there is time still available.
The Bill, which promotes collective bargaining and amends employment rules, is likely to pass into law this Parliamentary term.
The Bill was reported back from select committee with no significant changes despite thousands of businesses writing in over recent months to “highlight how it will negatively affect them”, according to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce CEO John Milford.
“The bill contains a series of policy changes that will add to the costs of doing business, lower productivity, and harm innovation, all while doing very little to improve the position of workers,” said Milford.
“Submissions to the select committee, and directly to the Government, made it clear how the bill could be improved, but unfortunately these ideas have been ignored.”
The ‘Fix the Bill’ campaign, led by New Zealand’s four main business associations along with Business NZ, called on the Government to continue with 90-day trial periods, abandon plans to force businesses to settle collective agreements, ensure union representatives notify workplaces of their intention to visit, and give businesses the option to participate or not in multi-employer collective agreements.
“As the bill progresses through Parliament there remains an opportunity for the Government and its coalition partners to make sensible changes to improve how the bill works,” said Milford.
“This bill marks an opportunity for the Government to demonstrate it is listening.
“Confidence in New Zealand’s economic direction rests on the Government’s ability to change course in favour of productivity-enhancing policies, particularly those that help small and medium businesses across the country.”
In contrast, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) released a statement saying it was pleased to see progress on the coalition Government’s commitment to “rebalancing working people’s rights”.
“The coalition Government agreed on improvements that help working people get a fair go at Cabinet in December, and made them a part of their 100 day programme,” said CTU President Richard Wagstaff.
“It’s great to see those commitments are on track to becoming law, and the Government is determined to give back working families a real stake in this country’s continued prosperity.”