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