19 Oct 2020

Possible Labour-Greens government concerns Employers and Manufacturers Association

12:44 pm on 19 October 2020

A business leader says he is concerned about the potential role the Greens may have in the new government.

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Greens co-leader James Shaw and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The Green Party won 10 seats in the General Election, however, Labour doesn't need them in a coalition as it can govern alone with its 64 seats in Parliament.

That hasn't allayed the concerns of the Employers and Manufacturers Association though, with spokesperson Alan McDonald worried about the potential of Labour-Greens government.

"I don't think businesses would like to see the Greens as part of government.

"Certainly they go further in the employment law space than we would like, they're probably a bit harder than some of the policies that Labour have and also it's the pace of change and the breadth of changes that the incoming government wants to make and that's going to be important for business in terms of 'are we suddenly going to get landed with more costs' for some of the things around climate change initiatives, decarbonising the economy, those sorts of areas.

"But also just the impost of additional costs on business at precisely the wrong time from some of those pent up employment policies that we know are basically sitting in drawers at MBIE and more or less ready to go. Don't get me wrong there's actually some good change for example the Holidays Act but there are some other areas that business really would have some nervousness about if pace of change comes in very quickly."

Alan McDonald, EPMU General Manager of Advocacy

Alan McDonald. Photo: Supplied

The Greens' workplace rights policies it announced in the lead up to the election include progressing the Fair Pay Agreement legislation, guaranteeing a minimum wage increase and abolishing the youth wage'' starting out rate, as well as having employees automatically join a union when they start a new job, with the option of opting out.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff told Morning Report he expects Labour to get on with a number of things it wanted to do during the last government but was not able to.

"The last government was very clear it was coalition and New Zealand First proudly called itself a handbrake on that coalition on the Labour Party and Greens leading up to the election, well things have changed, this is a different government and we would expect to go further and faster."

That too concerned McDonald.

"We've heard very much as a return to the old days of collective national bargaining and that didn't work and doesn't work and we're already seeing some behaviour changes with the unions who I think are probably feeling a little emboldened and I think there'll be some trepidation around what that union presence is going to look like in the work force.

"For example we've seen wage claims already where the starting point's 15 percent or more, I don't think any employer would be looking at 15 percent wage increases in the current environment."

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