A highly unionised environment is coming back and many are completely unaware and not prepared for the changes coming with it, said Scott Simpson National’s spokesperson for Workplace Relations and Safety.
Simpson, who visited the Howick, Pakuranga and Botany areas recently at the invitation of Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, dropped in at the Times office for a quick chat before heading off to Fisher House for a meeting with business owners.
The MP for Coromandel says, “There are more strikes in the last nine months than in years. There are changes being pushed through Parliament that will give Trade Unions greater power and lead to even more strikes.”
Talking about local businesses being genuinely concerned about the uncertain industrial relations environment dominated by strikes, he says the Labour Government “has created a sense of expectation of `I get what I want’. There is an incentive for other sectors as the nurses got the pay rise they wanted.
“There is a flow-on effect because the new government has given permission to one sector. I don’t have any problem for people to be paid more but do object to industrial action,” he says.
“Like the teachers’ strike, it is very inconvenient for working parents. A strike should be the last resort and I am disappointed that teachers have resorted to it.”
With a strong business and commercial background having previously held roles as New Zealand general manager of Protector Safety, HPM and Caroma Industries and also chief executive officer of Make a Wish Foundation, Simpson was once known as a `wish granter’, he says, “Teachers, bus drivers, port workers, meat workers and Government staff are just a few of the industries that are still involved in potential industrial action.
That’s more than 50,000 workers who are considering their options to pursue costly strikes, which is a huge concern.”
Objecting to the removal of 90-day trial period for businesses with more than 20 staff, he says by reducing flexibility and unsustainable leaps in minimum wages, the added extra costs could drive some business owners out of business.
“They may find it profitable by dropping staff numbers. This is symptomatic of higher levels of unemployment and the 70s style standardised wage bargaining which will contribute to an unsettled industrial climate.
“The Government has not only completely lost control of industrial relations in this country but it is further contributing to the mess it has made. It’s scary.” he says.