27 Apr 2013

Business groups back labour law changes

7:45 am on 27 April 2013

Business leaders say planned changes to employment legislation will help preserve jobs and sort out problems with the existing law.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on Friday and has been denounced by unions.

If passed, the bill would remove the obligation on workers and employers to reach a collective contract settlement, allow for partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action, and would no longer require workers to be covered by collective agreements for their first 30 days in a new job.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association says the amendments will provide long-term business certainty and allow firms to adapt quickly to changing conditions.

The association's employment services manager, David Lowe, says the changes offer a way through when talks on a collective agreement stall, allowing the parties to call it quits for a few months and try again later.

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says the bill tidies up the existing law and will make it easier to carry out industrial relations in the workplace.

Mr O'Reilly says the changes will create more certainty for businesses, and allow for growth and job creation.

However the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) believes the bill will remove workers' rights and make it easy for employers to simply walk away from collective agreements.

And the union representing Tertiary Education workers says it will have a detrimental effect on the quality of teaching in the sector.

Union president Lesley Francey says the changes will mean students will be taught by staff who have higher workloads and lower pay, which will be detrimental to the quality of teaching.