Business NZ: Labour’s labour law reforms “effectively constitute(s) compulsory unionism”

Labour are intent on hamstringing our flexible employment environment, by effectively returning us to compulsory unionism.

That was the crux of submissions from Business NZ on the bill.


The government’s proposed labour law reforms re-establish a kind of “compulsory unionism”, Business New Zealand says.

The peak business lobby group also says many provisions of the Employment Relations Reform Bill conflict with its objective of promoting “a high performing, high wage economy”.

Submissions on Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway’s bill, a key plank of Labour Party policy, closed formally on Good Friday and will appear on Parliament’s website in coming days.

Already publishing their submissions are Business NZ and Horticulture New Zealand.

Both are warning about an increased likelihood of industrial action, in conflict with another the bill’s aims – “to build productive workplace relationships founded on good faith”.

Instead, both argue the new environment would tip the balance too far in unions’ favour and that some of its proposed mechanisms were bound to create unnecessary conflict in the workplace.

Of particular concern is a requirement to continue bargaining “until all matters have been exhausted”, which could “unnecessarily prolong collective bargaining and increase prospects of industrial action”.

Business NZ also argues the bill breaches International Labour Organisation conventions on the right to voluntary participation in collective bargaining.

It suggests the bill’s provisions allowing unions to collect membership fees for every employee in a business, irrespective of whether they have chosen to join the union, “effectively constitute(s) compulsory unionism”.

Horticulture NZ’s concerns related especially to the compliance costs, complexity and in some cases impracticality of applying the bill’s requirements to the sector.

“The horticulture industry is made up of a number of small, inter-generational family businesses totalling around 5000 spread around the country,” it said.

“The ability for all 5000 businesses to be involved in collective bargaining is practically impossible.”

The education and workforce select committee has until August 1 to report the bill back to Parliament.

End of Quote.

National had nine years in which to solve the union problem in New Zealand. Instead, it is on record that various ministers, including John Key, sucked up to the unions, especially Helen Kelly. A fat lot of good it ever did them.

Instead of sucking up to the unions, if they had implemented three simple law changes early on in their tenure then we wouldn’t be having this nonsense from the unions. National should have:

  1. Removed affiliate membership from political parties. The only memberships allowed should be natural persons.
  2. Removed the ability of corporates or non-natural persons to donate to political parties.
  3. Removed payroll protection for union dues. Make the union bosses go cap in hand to members to get their money.

Those three simple measures would have crippled union power. Iain Lees-Galloway would not now be in a position to effectively bring us back to compulsory union membership.

Mind you, I do wonder what the stenographers’ union is going to say about all this… or will MeTooNZ get involved?

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.