In recent weeks I have used meetings, media interviews, columns and social media to alert Hamilton business owners and managers to the Government’s proposals to increase powers significantly for unions in the workplace.
The changes are far reaching and fly in the face of our hard-won economic gains of recent years. Regional GDP figures released last week by Statistics NZ provided clear proof that the regions have been thriving, including 9 per cent growth in the Bay of Plenty and 8.2 per cent growth in the Waikato in the year to March 2017.
We have one of the strongest job markets in the world. Over the last two years 245,000 additional New Zealanders have got a job. That’s more parents supporting their children or saving for a house. Many small business owners in Hamilton have hired new staff over the last few years.
We currently have the third highest rate of employment in the developed world and one of the highest rates of full-time employment. So it’s inexplicable that the government is putting our success at risk by driving employment law changes through Parliament that will create all sorts of problems for small and medium sized business owners.
The changes include scrapping 90-day trial periods for all except small businesses therefore reducing job opportunities for vulnerable workers; making it compulsory for all employees to be treated and paid as if on a union collective contract for their first 30 days; increasing red tape for hiring new staff, while making it harder for businesses to innovate to boost productivity; and new requirements to conclude bargaining, keep paying in full those on partial strikes, and requiring employers in an industry to bargain together if that’s what the union wants.
In fact, the Employment Relations Amendment Bill contains 14 changes which will slow down job and wage growth, add costs to businesses and make it harder to compete, and there will be even more harmful reforms later in the year, including the ability of the Government to dictate pay rates across entire industries. Visit the website: protectnzjobs.co.nz for further details.
The Government hasn’t explained why these changes make any sense for the New Zealand economy, workers or employers. In an environment of record job growth, they make no sense for the New Zealand economy, employers, or the 82 percent of workers who do not belong to a union. It appears this is all a simple payoff for Labour’s union supporters at the expense of everyone else.
The Labour-NZ First Government must listen to the many New Zealanders who have submitted their opposition to these pro-union law changes. National MPs are fighting the Bill at every step.