| | |
Homepage | login or create an account

PM says labour law changes "moderate"

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 19 NZPA - Sweeping changes to labour laws were "moderate", Prime Minister John Key says as unions, the Labour and Green parties and others say workers will lose rights.

At the National Party conference over the weekend various changes were announced, including: extending to all firms the 90-day trial period for new workers; changing how the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) operates including less strict processes to sack someone; requiring permission for union access to work places; allowing workers to trade in one of four annual leave weeks for cash; transfering public holidays observance; and also requiring workers to provide proof of illness when they take sick days.

Hundreds of union demonstrators raged outside the Sky City convention centre in Auckland where the conference was held and Labour leader Phil Goff said the changes were "simply an attack on Kiwi workers' conditions and wages".

Mr Key said the protests were "predictable".

"I think New Zealanders will see them (the changes) as a great opportunity to get people into work and give people a chance," he said on Newstalk ZB.

"They are very sensible, they are fair, they are actually very moderate when you look at them in relation to other countries around the world. You take the UK say, or Australia, there's a one-year trial period you can't opt out of and in New Zealand you can voluntarily opt out of if you don't want it."

Mr Key said the 90-day probation period had worked well for small firms and rolling it out to all companies would see more people given a chance to work. He said the unions had failed to demonstrate problems -- those groups say employees who are sacked without reason are too afraid to come forward concerned it would harm future job prospects.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly yesterday said the changes tilted the balance in favour of employers and meant many more workers could be unfairly sacked.

The Nurses Association said a new job was now a three-month contract and proper training might not be provided during that time.

Mr Key's announcement drew an opposite reaction from employers, with Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly saying businesses would feel more confident about hiring people, personal grievances would be better considered and workers would have clarity around their holiday rights.

The Food and Grocery Council said the changes were "commonsense and moderate".

About : Politics

Find the latest politics and election news, 'how to' guides and party policies on Guide2Politics.


Your Questions. Independent Answers.