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Monday, 21 January 2019 02:56 am

Unionism and trade deals on the political agenda for business leaders

Sep 1st, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce business election panel at PricewaterhouseCoopers Tower on the Terrace. From left: BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope, ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard, and BusinessNZ Employment Relations Policy Manager Paul Mackay.

Labour is taking a “sledgehammer to a nut” with its industrial relations policy for the 2017 General Election.

Business people raised their concerns about trade and the industrial relations at an election breakfast in Wellington.

Speaker Paul Mackay says Labour’s policies would represent a systemic change to the labour relations system, restoring unions to their 1970s role.

The BusinessNZ employment relations policy manager told the Wellington Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting that Labour’s proposed industry standards and centralised bargaining would be unsuitable for all employers in a certain industry.

“We need proportionality rather than a sledgehammer to nut approach,” said Mackay at the breakfast hosted at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mackay liked New Zealand First’s pledged compensatory company tax cuts as part of its minimum wage policy.

BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope questioned Labour’s centralised wage bargaining and water tax policies.

“Labour is concerning from a business perspective,” he said.

Trade was also a concern for businesses, says ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard.

Beard says it was a shame that trade had been politicised, and that cross-party consensus had been lost.

She says the Trans-Pacific Partnership, (TPP) is an opportunity for New Zealand to have increased trade contact with Japan which it would not have otherwise, as a small, agricultural-exporting nation.

Agriculture is a sensitive domestic market for Japan, Beard says.

Beard says New Zealand’s exit from TPP if there is a change of government would not be a deal-breaker.

“I don’t think anyone would lose sleep over it.”


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