Submitted by Sam Huggard on Thu, 03/02/2011 - 2:27pm.
Unions are calling for the government to do more to create jobs
after figures released today showed a jump in unemployment.
Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway said unemployment
appeared to be stuck at a high rate and the Government needed to
act to create jobs.
"The government cannot simply sit back and rely on the Rugby
World Cup and rebuilding due to the Christchurch earthquake to
National Distribution Union president Robert Reid also
criticised the lack of action from the Government.
"By sitting on the sidelines the government is contributing to
unemployment levels remaining high," Reid said.
"The New Zealand economy needs more stimulus measures to ensure
that job growth occurs.
"An increase in the minimum wage to $15 needs to be a core part
of that stimulus."
Read the full NZPA story here.
Submitted by Joe Hendren on Thu, 26/02/2009 - 8:52am.
The Government is facing calls to buy Kiwi-made after a Levin manufacturer revealed he was losing a $2 million Defence Force contract to China.
The textile industry, the Green Party and the union representing workers at Swazi Apparel today urged the Government to change its procurement policies.
"This is an industry full of innovators with ideas to create value-added products for local and international niche markets, but they need these procurement contracts to survive and grow," said Cameron King, director of Textiles New Zealand. "The Government could stimulate significant growth in the industry if it ensured a percentage of goods and services bought by government departments and agencies were sourced from within New Zealand."
Green Party MP Sue Bradford, who championed the Government's Buy Kiwi Made campaign, said the contract shift was "a stab in the back" for Swazi owner Davey Hughes who had maintained jobs in Levin despite pressure to move offshore.
Ms Bradford said US defence forces were required to buy 100 percent American. "The cradle of the free market believes in protecting its local manufacturers - we should do the same," she said. "The Green Party hopes that this episode will trigger an urgent review of government procurement practices and policies."
The National Distribution Union called on the Government to stop the contract going to China. Union secretary Laila Harre said government procurement processes had to be fixed to save jobs. "Every other country takes a pragmatic approach to applying international trade rules and balances...New Zealand seems more concerned with being toasted on the WTO (World Trade Organisation) cocktail circuit than putting toast on the table in our provincial centres."
Swazi Apparel has made wet weather gear for troops for the past three years but the Defence Force says the contract will be cut by 93 percent - more than $1.9 million - this year.
Mr Hughes said he felt "saddened and deeply disillusioned" after being given the news and did not know what to tell his workers.
Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said today he would find out what he could do about the contract, which comes up for renewal next year. Dr Mapp said one of the problems was that the main Defence Force contract was with an Australian company, Yakka Apparel Solutions, and Swazi was a sub contractor.
He said any future contract had to conform with WTO and CER (Closer Economic Relationship) rules, and New Zealand had a free trade agreement with China. "I'm going to look at the rules to see whether we can do better," he said.
Submitted by Joe Hendren on Sun, 01/02/2009 - 11:00pm.
Supermarket chain Progressive Enterprises is planning to spend up to $200 million on new supermarkets and refurbishing existing stores during the next five years.
Owned by Australian-based Woolworths Ltd, the company today said it had spent $320m on a large programme of work during the past three years, since Woolworths bought Progressive in late 2005. That work included installing new ordering, merchandising, point of sale and back office systems, as well as store refurbishments and buying land and buildings for new supermarkets.
Progressive employs more than 19,000 staff nationwide and owns 148 Countdown, Foodtown and Woolworths supermarkets.
Spending of $150m to $200m would fund the development of three to five new supermarkets each year for the next five years, and refurbishment of 18 to 20 stores every year for the next three to five years.
Progressive said it also intended to integrate back office support services including accounting and information technology to Woolworths' shared services platform, establish new functions in-house which were previously outsourced at high cost, and invest in improved supply chain systems.
Progressive managing director Peter Smith said the company expected to increase its total staff numbers in 2009. Each new store would add at least 120 new jobs once opened, he said.
While about 100 support positions could be affected by proposed changes, the company was working on alternative career and job opportunities within Progressive and the greater Woolworths Ltd group.
Submitted by Joe Hendren on Fri, 25/07/2008 - 9:52am.
The Government and trade unions say National's employment relations policy will cut wages, despite the party saying it will retain core provisions of the Employment Relations Act (ERA) if it wins the election.
National's leader, John Key, gave an assurance today the basic principles of the ERA would remain in place. "We are staying with the Employment Relations Act. We are not going back to the Employment Contracts Act," he said. "Good faith provisions will still apply, as will rights to sick leave, holidays, and health and safety provisions."
Mr Key said National would keep four weeks annual leave but allow employees to trade the fourth week for cash.
Labour Minister Trevor Mallard described the policy as "a return to the bad old days" with no protection for new employees, an erosion of the Holidays Act and a power shift in favour of employers. National's policy contains the previously-announced provision for a 90-day probation period for new employees and says there will be a review of the Holidays Act. Mr Mallard described the probation period as a "fire at will" provision which would mean lower pay and would force new employees into a trial period without any protection against unfair or unreasonable treatment. And he said a review of the Holidays Act was National Party code for cutting the pay of sick people.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) said the policy would drive down the wages of all workers. "Every point in this policy is an attack on current worker rights and every point would put downward pressure on wages," said EPMU national secretary Andrew Little.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly said there was no mention in the policy of how it would lift wages and predicted holiday pay would be cut.
The National Distribution Union's secretary, Laila Harre, said the policy was a wolf in sheep's clothing. "It is a gift to employers, wrapped in the language of `reasonableness'," she said. "This policy will keep wages down. . .the attempt to shift the balance of power in a workplace even more towards employers is dressed up in weasel words."
Business New Zealand said the policy had the capacity to deliver economic growth if it was partnered by other pro-growth policies. "A period of restraint and consolidation along with enhancement of basic rights is likely to be beneficial," Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said. "The vast majority of employers will welcome the commitment to review the Holidays Act which has been widely criticised for its complexity and costliness to apply." National's industrial relations spokeswoman, Kate Wilkinson, said the policy was balanced and the response was hysterical. "There is no threat to worker rights, collective bargaining will continue, there is no attack on entitlements, there is no plan to cut holidays and there is no plan to privatise ACC," she said. "It's the same tired old hysterical rubbish we've heard from Labour all week."
The main points of National’s policy are:
- Introduce a 90-day trial period for new staff, by agreement between the employer and employee, in businesses with fewer than 20 people;
- Continue to allow union access to workplaces with an employer's consent, which cannot be unreasonably withheld;
- Continue to support the social partnership with Business NZ and the Council of Trade Unions to work together on issues of mutual interest;
- Restore workers' rights to bargain collectively without having to belong to a union;
- Retain the Mediation Service but ensure it is properly resourced with properly qualified mediators;
- Require the Employment Relations Authority to act judicially in accordance with the principles of natural justice, including the right to be heard, and the right to cross-examine before an impartial referee;
- Allow injunctions and important legal questions to be heard in the first instance in the Employment Court, and allow a general right of appeal to the Court of Appeal;
- Keep four weeks annual leave but allow employees to request trade of the fourth week for cash. This can be only at the employee's request and cannot be raised in negotiations for an agreement; and
- Appoint a working party to review the Holidays Act, especially the issue of 'relevant daily pay'.
Submitted by Joe Hendren on Thu, 24/07/2008 - 2:40pm.
National has confirmed if it is elected to power it will largely retain the Employment Relations Act (ERA).
National leader John Key told a business breakfast meeting in Wellington the basic principles of the ERA – such as that of good faith bargaining – would remain in place. "We are staying with the Employment Relations Act. We are not going back to the Employment Contracts Act," Mr Key said.
Mr Key said his party's industrial relations policy would keep the ERA in place, but introduce a 90 day trial period for firms with fewer than 20 staff.
"Good-faith provisions will still apply, as will rights to sick leave, holidays, and health and safety provisions. Rules of natural justice and human rights legislation will apply. Mediation will be available in disputes, and employers won't be able to hire and fire the same employee every 90 days," Mr Key said.
National did not see the 90 day trial period as making it easier for employers to fire people, but easier to hire them. Every OECD country, except Denmark, had a probationary period. National has dropped its 2005 policy of restricting union access to work places, but will allow workers to bargain collectively without having to belong to a union.
Mr Key said National would also keep four weeks annual leave, but allow employees to trade the fourth week for cash.
This could only be at the employee's request and could not be raised in negotiations for an agreement.
A National government would also:
* Retain the Mediation Service but ensure it was properly resourced with properly qualified mediators;
* Require the Employment Relations Authority to act judicially in accordance with the principles of natural justice, including the right to be heard, and the right to cross examine before an impartial referee;
* Allow injunctions and important legal questions to be heard in the first instance in the Employment Court, and allow a general right of appeal to the Court of Appeal; and
* Appoint a working party to review the Holidays Act, especially the issue of relevant daily pay.