28 Oct 2011

Unions say employment relations policy won't benefit workers

6:35 pm on 28 October 2011

The Council for Trade Unions says hard-working New Zealanders will be worse off under National's employment relations policy announced on Friday.


Leader John Key says it is designed to get young people into work, while allowing businesses more flexibility.

Under National, 16- and 17-year-olds in their first six months with a new employer and 18- and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after being on a benefit, would receive 80% of the adult minimum wage - $10.40 per hour.

The National Party would also extend flexible working arrangements to all employees and make changes to collective bargaining.

But CTU president Helen Kelly says the policy is disrespectful to working people and entirely aimed at business. She says research shows there is no link between the minimum wage and youth unemployment.

"I think they should look at the international research which shows how you deal with youth unemployment and doesn't make a link between low wages and youth. This effectively drives young people into poverty, not into work.

"It's entirely aimed at business - it shows their deference to business and their disrespect to workers."

Helen Kelly says National's policy would give employers the right to sit at the table and negotiate with employees but never have to settle on a collective agreement.