Employers group wary of strike-breaking Bill

EMA BOSS: Kim Campbell
EMA BOSS: Kim Campbell

A leading business lobby warns a strike-breaking bill to come before Parliament will prove ''divisive'' and could be a bridge too far.

On Thursday Jami-Lee Ross' Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill was drawn from the members' bill ballot.

The bill would overturn section 97 of the Employment Relations Act 2000, which prevents the use of volunteers, contractors or other casual employees during strikes and lockouts.

Unions immediately attacked the bill as undermining workers' rights, and now they are getting support from a employers' group.

Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers & Manufacturers Association, said the bill appeared to be a good idea ''at first flush'', but this did not take into account unintended consequences.

"While its principles are worth exploring it could prove very divisive,'' Campbell said.

"New Zealand communities place a high value on fairness and the Bill could have consequences that would be considered unfair.

"In spite of several high profile cases we have had 10 to 15 years of harmonious workplace relations and don't want to jeopardise that. We need to look carefully at the implications of industrial action on essential industries such as the ports and hospitals, as well as on small businesses.''

Campbell added that employers did not want employment law to change every time there was a change of Government ''and we can foresee law based on this Bill may not last".

Fairfax Media