Na­tional ‘scare­mon­ger­ing’

Waihi Leader - - News - By ME­LANIE CAMOIN news@wai­hileader.co.nz

Labour says Na­tional is “scare­mon­ger­ing” over the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Amend­ment Bill.

Jan Tinetti, Labour’s buddy MP for the Coro­man­del Elec­torate says New Zealand econ­omy is go­ing well, de­spite Scott Simp­son’s com­ments on strike ac­tions. Coro­man­del Na­tional MP Simp­son, Na­tional’s Work­place Re­la­tions and Safety spokesper­son, said the Gov­ern­ment is over-eg­ging ex­pec­ta­tions for wages and em­bold­en­ing unions lead­ing to re­cent ins­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tions.

“So far this year al­most 70,000 peo­ple have stopped work, in­clud­ing two of the big­gest state sec­tor work­forces, bus drivers, fac­tory work­ers, med­i­cal ad­vis­ers and shop work­ers.

“Jacinda Ardern’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is to blame for the spike in work stop­pages. The unions sensed op­por­tu­nity from a Labour-led Gov­ern­ment in­tent on de­mol­ish­ing one of the pil­lars of our econ­omy — labour law that al­lows for flex­i­ble work­places ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing in a fast-chang­ing global mar­ket­place.

“At the same time the unions picked up the nod and wink from the Bee­hive that it is open to wage in­creases out of all pro­por­tion to the rate of in­fla­tion,” he said.

But Jan Tinetti said Na­tional’s out­look is pes­simistic.

“GDP growth fig­ures re­leased last week by Sta­tis­tics New Zealand showed solid, broad­based growth, and rep­re­sented the strong­est quar­terly and per capita num­bers since June 2016,” she said. GDP fig­ures shows it rose by 1 per cent in the June 2018 quar­ter up from 0.5 the pre­vi­ous quar­ter.

Around 15 in­dus­tries recorded higher pro­duc­tion, with the largest from agri­cul­ture, up by 4.2 per cent.

The min­ing sec­tor recorded a 20 per cent fall, its largest in 29 years.

Tinetti said the solid growth and sur­plus out­lined in Bud­get 2018 backed the gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions.

“The gov­ern­ment has a plan to re­build New Zealand’s core pub­lic ser­vices, such as our schools and hos­pi­tals, af­ter nine years of ne­glect by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment,” she said.

Simp­son says busi­ness groups were com­pletely ig­nored when the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Amend­ment Bill was con­sid­ered in select com­mit­tee.

“Busi­ness alone won’t bear the brunt of the Gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic van­dal­ism. It will slow job cre­ation and give com­pa­nies less room to in­crease wages. No won­der con­sumer con­fi­dence is at a six-year low, while busi­ness con­fi­dence is the low­est in 10 years.”

The Amend­ment Bill, in­tro­duced ear­lier in the year, pro­poses to amend the Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Act 2000 by rein­tro­duc­ing min­i­mum stan­dards and pro­tec­tions for em­ploy­ees. It would al­sochange col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing and union rights in the work­place.

Simp­son said Na­tional has lodged Sup­ple­men­tary Or­der Pa­pers to keep 90-day tri­als for all busi­nesses, al­low firms to opt out of col­lec­tive con­tracts and multi-em­ployer col­lec­tive agree­ments and en­sure union of­fi­cials have to get per­mis­sion to en­ter a work­place.

Tinetti said Na­tional’s “scare­mon­ger­ing” over the Bill com­pounds the strug­gle fac­ing some of New Zealand’s low­est paid and most vul­ner­a­ble work­ers.

“This Bill strikes a bal­ance between the rights of work­ers and em­ploy­ers. Over a long pe­riod, wages in New Zealand haven’t kept up with pro­duc­tiv­ity growth. This has meant work­ers have fallen be­hind and our coun­try has be­come more un­equal, a le­gacy of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. We need to lift wages as a way to ad­dress the squeeze on mid­dle in­come earn­ers,” she said.

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