"Labour is indebted to the Prime Minister for finally putting National's miserable anti-worker agenda on the official
record," Labour employment relations spokesperson Pete Hodgson said today.
Mr Hodgson was responding to Jenny Shipley's promise in Auckland today to "strengthen" the Employment Contracts Act.
"Mrs Shipley chose her words carefully in an attempt to hide her party's real intentions behind a smokescreen of
obfuscation. But New Zealanders won't be fooled but her flimflam..
"They know her talk of changes "to encourage employers to take the risk of taking on new staff" is Right wing code for
stripping workers of those few rights they have left under the ECA," Mr Hodgson said.
He said National's plans were:
· To weaken New Zealanders' holiday entitlements, effectively putting Christmas Day and other public holidays up for
· To introduce a six month "probation period" during which new workers can be sacked at will.
· To weaken the personal grievance rules governing dismissals and remove discretion from the Employment Tribunal.
· To downgrade or even eliminate the Employment Court.
"Opinion polls show that most New Zealanders already regard the ECA as unfair to workers. National and Act want to make
it even more unfair," Mr Hodgson said.
He also took issue with Mrs Shipley's claim that the ECA had led to a reduction in unemployment.
"The facts tell a different story. The average unemployment rate in the nine long years since the ECA was passed has
been 7.9 percent. This compares with 5.3 percent between 1986, when the Household Labour Force Survey was started, and
1990," he said.