Vital Labour Department functions could be lost

Press Release – New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

Peter Conway, CTU Secretary said the Government’s announcement today that it will merge the Labour Department into a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has major risks and multiple reasons for concern.

CTU Media Release

15 March 2012

Vital Labour Department functions could be lost

Peter Conway, CTU Secretary said the Government’s announcement today that it will merge the Labour Department into a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has major risks and multiple reasons for concern.

Peter Conway said “half the population are in the workforce and yet the Government plans to integrate the work of the Department responsible for workers’ employment conditions and rights; like their safety at work, holidays, parental leave, minimum wages, and wider labour issues, into a new Ministry tasked with providing a single, dedicated ‘business-facing’ focus.”

“This merger begs the question – where will the ‘worker-facing’ roles and functions that the Department currently provides fit in the new structure? Where will the advice and functions that require independence from business come from?”

“The change in focus to ‘business-facing’ may impact on advisors ability to provide high quality free and frank and independent advice on employment relations issues. The Department of Labour, as well as the other affected departments, manage complex and often contentious legislation which is highly technical and specialised. Specialist functions carried out by these agencies may be lost if this goes ahead.”

“The Government is already struggling to adequately carry out the health and safety function because of the inadequate number of health and safety inspectors – as the Pike River mine tragedy clearly shows. Bringing a single business-facing lens to issues like health and safety may marginalise and compromise the focus that should be on workers, with their employers, and their health and safety at work,” said Peter Conway.

ENDS

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