The Human Rights Commission has made a very strong submission on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill currently before parliament.
The commission notes that “New Zealand is falling short of international benchmarks [developed to measure Decent Work], a situation that will be exacerbated by the passing of the Bill”.
It also notes that, in light of the fact that New Zealand’s labour market is one of the most deregulated in the developed world, “it is difficult to understand the justification for deregulating the New Zealand labour market even further, while at the same time breaching international obligations to protect employee’s rights”.
The commission is the government body that monitors New Zealand’s compliance with human rights. In this case, it has emphasised the fundamental nature of rights at work and found that proposed changes to collective bargaining and union rights should be rejected as inconsistent with New Zealand’s international obligations. The commission’s submission echoes concerns raised by other government departments as the proposed law was drafted. The submission is available here.
Jeff Sissons, General Counsel at the Council of Trade Unions says “It is heartening that the experts at the HRC agree with our view that these changes are a breach of New Zealand international obligations and will make things worse for workers.”
“We think that the proposed changes will bring New Zealand into disrepute internationally.”
“The Employment Relations Amendment Bill will lower wages for New Zealand workers through the undermining of collective bargaining and removal of protections for workers. In our submission, we have noted that several the changes to collective bargaining and union rights breach New Zealand’s international commitments to respect workers’ rights (including rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and International Labour Organisation treaties).”