14 Feb 2011

Labour discounts centralised wage-fixing

8:10 pm on 14 February 2011

The Labour Party says it wants better rights for workers but will not go back centralised wage-fixing to achieve them.

The party says it is still working on the best way forward.

A speech by former shadow labour minister Trevor Mallard earlier in February said Labour was considering re-establishing industrial negotiations at the national level involving government, employers and unions.

This could involve arbitration and affect all workers in an industry.

Business New Zealand says this comes close to the old system of national awards which, it says, caused widespread industrial unrest.

The awards were abolished after reforms in the 1980s.

Mr Mallard is not commenting on his speech, because he no longer has the party's labour portfolio.

His replacement is Darien Fenton who says Labour's policy on industrial relations is not yet finalised.

However, she insists the party does not want to bring back national awards, just extend workers rights more widely.