Employer representative groups were starting to look desperate and divided as the Government continued with its reform of labour law, according to Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Richard Wagstaff.
The BusinessNZ groups of EMA, Business Central, Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce and Otago-Southland Employers Association took out full page advertisements in major newspapers yesterday calling on Government MPs to explain how the “old world thinking” of the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill would deliver the productive, high growth economy they said they wanted.
The advertising campaign would include outdoor bill boards, press and digital advertising asking Government MPs to “Please Fix the Bill.”
Wagstaff told the Otago Daily Times some of the dates and facts were incorrect in the media releases and advertising. However, one thing was correct. NZ employers and workers had previously felt the benefit of shared economic growth and the CTU and the Government were determined that should happen again.
The odd and peculiar campaign undertaken by employer representatives demonstrated a division between “knuckle draggers” determined to keep workers in the dark, and progressive employers embracing pay equity and fair pay agreements.
“They are fooling themselves if they think the leadership of this Government will fall for it,” he said.
Otago-Southland Employers Association chief executive Virginia Nicholls said the Government's goal of developing a modern, nimble and high performing economy was supported by her members.
“We would like to understand how labour laws of days gone by will enable this to happen.”
Small and medium-sized employers, in particular, were affected by the proposed changes. Large businesses would be affected which was illustrated but not limited to the change to multi-employer collective agreements and forcing businesses to settle collective agreements, even if they did not or could not agree, she said.
Employers would like an “honest conversation” on how placing more restrictions in the workplace would drive a modern, nimble economy, Mrs Nicholls said.
*Dene Mackenzie is business editor of the Otago Daily Times.