David Cunliffe has used one of his first major speeches as Labour leader to further outline his party's major focuses for its first 100 days in office if it wins the next election.
In a strident speech to a receptive audience at the Council of Trade Unions conference in Wellington this morning he promised to scrap National's "anti-worker" employment policies "in the first hundred days" and ensure workers a "better share of the benefits" of a strong New Zealand economy.
There would be no more "fire at will" and no more "attacks on vulnerable workers'' or "undermining health and safety" or a youth wage.
"In the Labour government that I lead John Key's attacks on workers will be gone by lunchtime," he said.
They would also increase the capability of employees to engage in collective bargaining and would work to ensure gender pay equity through policy and legislation.
"These changes can't be a one off they need to be an enduring part of a better New Zealand."
He wanted to see "sustainable, progressive economic growth" that promoted good jobs.
Labour was also considering extending National's bonding policy for certain professions such as doctors and nurses and could tie these to the remission of student loans.
These would be aimed encouraging selected professions to work in the regions and possibly at luring Kiwis with certain qualifications back home.
"We've got more work to do on that policy, I'm simply saying that we are attracted to the idea of expanding bonding provisions for regional New Zealand to retain people in New Zealand."
They would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour rom $13.75 and seek further increases on an annual basis if the country could afford it.
The $30m a year cost to extend a "living wage" to core Government employees would be accounted for in its first Budget "subject to the provisions of fiscal responsibility".
The scheme to ensure certified living wage employers were favoured when tendering for Government contracts would also be implemented as soon as possible.
Labour would extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks as set out in Sue Moroney's members bill and would scrap youth rates which violated the principle of equal pay.
"We are supporting fairness at work... because that is part of a broader plan to create a better New Zealand."
It was their intention to extend parental leave in the first term "and it is my hope that we can do it reasonably soon in our first term but we don't know exactly what the state of the books will be yet and we are having to balance that with the need to be fiscally responsible which we will be".
His Labour government would be part of a "labour movement" and was committed to fair labour laws and better wages, he said.
"Too many New Zealand families are being wrecked by unemployment", low wages and insecure work.
He urged union members to mobilise and encourage those people who had not voted in the last election to do so, saying it would win Labour the election and ensure "Kiwis will get their nation back".
"If we believe that we are standing at a turning point in our nation's history then they'll believe it is worthwhile getting out of bed on a Saturday morning and vote."
Cunliffe said he had been approached by people "almost begging" for a change of government.
"I think that with good organisation and with clarity of purpose a lot of the people who couldn't be bothered voting last time will sure as heck be bothered next time."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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