Micro matters not minor matters

11/09/2018

BusinessNZ says the Employment Relations Amendment Bill is harmful and oppressive:

None of the provisions that most concern business have been removed by the select committee considering the Bill. . .

55% of submissions were against the Bill and thousands of emails sent to Parliamentarians by concerned businesses. EMA, Business Central, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Otago Southland Employers’ Association ran a high-profile campaign asking the Government to explain the reasoning for the Bill’s harmful provisions.

“Given current low levels of business confidence, especially among small business, it is unfortunate that the Government has neither listened nor explained its justification for the Bill.

Low business confidence is not political pique. It’s based on genuine concern about policy like this which will make it more difficult, and expensive, to run a business.

“Business cannot support this Bill and will be making our position clear as this Bill progresses through Parliament.

“BusinessNZ is also considering pursuing a claim to the International Labour Organisation or International Court of Justice on parts of the Bill which are contrary to international law.

“Business strongly objects to this Bill’s ability to harm employment relations, jobs and commercial value in New Zealand enterprises.”

The EMA is bitterly disappointed no heed was paid to concerns raised:

The EMA, along with its fellow regional associations, actively lobbied and campaigned for four key areas to be modified as it believed these will not deliver to the Government’s stated aims of a high wage and high performing economy, nor help businesses to be more productive. The joint Fix The Bill campaign resulted in at least 2254 emails being sent to Government MPs seeking clarification on how the changes will help their business succeed.

The four aspects of the Bill that were particularly worrying for business were:

– Employers with 20 employees or more will lose the right to include 90-day-trial periods in employment agreements. However, findings from a nationwide survey of employers found that the 90-day trial periods were useful for businesses of all sizes, to give prospective employees a chance.

A trial period is not just good for employers, it’s good for other employees. If a new worker isn’t up to scratch it impacts badly on workmates.

– Businesses will be forced to settle collective agreements, even if they don’t or can’t agree

And even if they can’t afford them.

– Allowing union representatives access to workplaces without permission

Any access, any time is not conducive to productivity.

– Not allowing businesses a choice to opt out of a multi-employer collective agreement (MECA)

This will not only means saddle businesses with agreements they can’t afford, it will stop a business offering staff better pay and conditions.

With more than 50% of New Zealand businesses employing fewer than 100 staff, the EMA is deeply worried the changes in the Bill combined with the raft of other legislation in the pipeline will unduly burden smaller operators.

Furthermore, despite rhetoric from Government that it is listening to business, this is a tangible example that ideology rather than solid public policy driving decisions and does not bode well for business going forward.

Throughout this process the EMA has been puzzled by how any of the proposed changes to the industrial relations framework will take the country forward in terms of the Government’s goal of developing a modern, nimble and high performing economy.

Taking industrial relations back to the 1970s will not take the country forward and it will harm rather than help the economy.

Steven Joyce writes:*

. . .Economic policy is in fact a three-legged stool, fiscal policy, monetary policy, and microeconomic policy. You can’t successfully operate an economy, especially a small one like New Zealand, without all three working together.

Microeconomics is everything that operates at the firm level in the economy – all the regulations and policy settings that impact directly on businesses. These are things like employment law, immigration settings, competition law, resource allocation, innovation settings, tax policy and the government’s investment in infrastructure.

It is microeconomics that drives much of firms’ actual operating conditions. Along with interest rates and exchanges rates, it is access to capital, skilled people, resources, markets, the necessary infrastructure and importantly the consistency of those settings, that tell the owners of businesses that it is a good time to invest and grow their business.

If you start playing with those settings in an arbitrary way while ignoring the economic consequences of those changes, then firms will simply stop investing. They’ll either wait until there is more certainty, or not invest at all. . .

Microeconomic matters, including employment relations legislation, are not minor matters.

They have a huge influence on the business environment and economy.

Any changes which add to the complexities and risk of employing people will have the opposite affect from the government’s stated aim of developing a modern, nimble and high performing economy.

But this legislation shows that this aim comes a very poor second to Labour’s need to pay back unions for their financial and personal support.

The legislation will be good for unions but not the whose interests they purport to represent nor for the businesses which employ them.

* Hat tip: Kiwiblog


Rural round-up

05/09/2017

NOSLaM meeting: 

Randall Aspinall, from Mt Aspiring Station, will speak at a North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group meeting at Five Forks on Thursday.

He will discuss the challenges of being a high country farmer in the Wanaka area and share lessons that had been learned.

NOSLaM was revived several years ago by a group of farmers who were keen to improve water quality and promote good pastoral management practices. . .

Water scheme grew from ground up – Hamish MacLean,

In the 1950s, rural water schemes sprang up in North Otago but the 1989 local government reform, and then progressively stringent legislation aimed to improve drinking-water standards, started to take the control of water schemes away from the farmers who used them.

This winter, after a three-year trial, a community-led non-profit company signed a five-year agreement with the Waitaki District Council to manage four rural water schemes from the grass-roots, Hamish MacLean reports.

Corriedale Water Management Ltd was formed when the Waitaki District Council rewrote its water bylaw four years ago.

A “fundamental” philosophical difference separated the way its users wanted to operate and the way council-owned water schemes were expected to work, chairman Bill Malcolm, of Airedale, said. . .

Does OAD lift productivity?:

In their quest to increase six-week in-calf rates, a growing number of farmers are looking at once-a-day (OAD) milking as a way to improve herd reproductive performance. How effective is this strategy?

The success of taking this approach depends on how long cows are milked OAD before mating. It’s important to note that the benefits of whole-season (or full lactation) OAD on herd reproduction don’t necessarily translate to the use of short-term OAD milking around mating. . . 

Vivid flavones from a vivid country – Joelle Thomson:

Wine writer Jamie Goode says simplicity is key in communicating New Zealand wine to global markets.

The British blogger visited New Zealand to speak at the country’s second Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference in Marlborough in June this year. His message was emphatic.

“You will maintain an edge in international markets by sticking to a simple clear marketing message going forward in the same way as you have done in the past with Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. It’s consistent, reliable and there are no nasty surprises. . .

ExportNZ has released its manifesto for the 2017 election:

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says exporting is critical for the economy and voters should choose a Government that supports trade.

“The single biggest policy issue is whether there is support for TPP-11 and other key potential trade deals. These have the best practical ability to grow jobs and incomes,” Catherine Beard said.
Exporters wanted to see a Government keeping the pressure off the New Zealand dollar by balancing the budget and keeping interest rates low through a focused target on inflation. . .

Export vital for New Zealand’s prosperity:

Support for TPP11 and the wider trade agenda by the incoming government is crucial for New Zealand now and in the future, says the EMA.

The need to speed up the growth of exporting was one of the key recommendations in the EMA 2017 Election Manifesto.

“As a nation we rely heaving on trade for jobs and growth. With a population the size of ours, we need a vibrant exporting sector for New Zealand’s prosperity, says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA. . .


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