Lockwood Smith National Industrial Relations Spokesperson
2 October 2001
Worst fears over ERA come to fruition
Claims today, the anniversary of the enactment of the Employment Relations Act, that the Act is working well cannot go
unchallenged, National's Industrial Relations spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.
"Employment law so complex that thousands of small businesses don't even comply with it, and that imposes greater
compliance costs on all businesses cannot be classed as 'working well'.
"A year ago National predicted that the Employment Relations Act would 'exacerbate skill shortages with its rigid,
prescriptive measures making it harder to employ people, harder to take the risks needed to expand and innovate and
quickly adjust the way the business operates.' One year on, these predications are realities.
"We also predicted that the ERA would really start to bite from about the middle of this year, and this too has
"Under the ERA more and more workplaces are starting to rumble with industrial action as unions flex their muscles. Work
stoppages are on the rise with New Zealand experiencing eight stoppages in the March quarter and at least 20 when the
figures are released for June.
"We've just seen the armed forces move into the country's prisons. This followed recent strike action by journalists at
the New Zealand Herald and Radio New Zealand, the Waterfront Workers' Union striking in Auckland, industrial unrest at
Sanfords and Sky City Casino and talk of strike action by secondary school teachers and health workers.
"Increasing strike action signals a return to archaic work practices which will damage New Zealand's international
standing as a reliable trader. National's employment legislation will look ahead, not behind," Dr Smith said.