22 Sep 2014

Unions fearful of National policies

7:32 am on 22 September 2014

Unions say they are fearful of what a third term of a National-led Government will bring for the country's schooling system and for the industry sector.

John Key declares victory for the National Party.

John Key declares victory for the National Party. Photo: REUTERS

The Public Service Association and the Educational Institute said they were uneasy about some of the party's policy pledges.

But business lobbyists are calling for the next Government to start tackling the more complex issues.

The Educational Institute is sceptical about whether or not this government is really that serious about building a quality education system.

National secretary Paul Goulter said poverty and inequality are the two core issues that continue to be sidelined.

"We have been unable to get the Government to even consider them in the context of education.

"Secondly, they just have to recognise that if they're talking about improving things teaching quality, it is absolutely ridiculous to have things like charter schools that have unregistered teachers in them."

The biggest concern for the Public Service Association is National's push to change the employment law.

The association's national secretary Richard Wagstaff said it was particularly worried about the move to enable employers to walk away from negotiations.

"There are issues such as pay equity which has been getting worse in the state sector, and funding for health and the public services has been a real stretch.

"We know our members raised that issue about trying to cope with that demand and trying to cover the work that's been expected."

Mr Wagstaff said the Government's push to keep funding down and bring in tax cuts would not help, nor would they boost morale for workers.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly also said workers could expect to have to fight for their rights after Saturday's election.

Helen Kelly.

Helen Kelly. Photo: Supplied

Ms Kelly said National had a strong mandate to govern but they had no policies to deal with the inequality workers experience.

She expected the Government to push through its industrial relations policy which will have severe implications for wages and paid breaks.

She said Prime Minister John Key had already said the bill is a priority.

She said there will be an immediate impact on working people and unions will have to organise within a hostile environment.

But Business New Zealand's chief executive Phil O'Reilly was happy with the election outcome, but said there were several challenges ahead.

Phil O'Reilly.

Phil O'Reilly. Photo: BUSINESS NZ

"It seems to me there's a fair few things emerging around issues like sustainability, around the role of women and about how we're going on Pacific people in our society and in our economy.

"So there's always new things to be talking about and I think a third-term government is a good time to start thinking about some of those things that are a bit more complex and might have emerged over the last few years."

Mr O'Reilly said there also needed to be a significant push for changes to the Resource Management Act and labour law reform.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association agrees.

Its chief executive, Kim Campbell, said the National Party certainly had some unfinished business to take care of.

"We also think that the Callaghan innovation initiative for research and development is only just starting to hit its straps so we'd like to see that continue.

"So there are a number of initiatives where a continuity of government will make quite a lot of difference."

Kim Campbell said they also want the tax system simplified for small and medium sized businesses.

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