Assessment of Changes in New Zealand Employment Policy Since 1984 Essay

Assessment of Changes in New Zealand Employment Policy Since 1984 Essay

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Historically New Zealand has had an industrial relations system based on principles of collective bargaining, with union and employer representatives negotiating minimum employment terms and conditions. The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1894 established principles of; wage fixing through conciliation and arbitration; multi-employer awards; blanket coverage of conditions; compulsory union membership; and compulsory arbitration. This system served New Zealand for almost a century with only minor changes. However, during the 1980’s and 1990’s a governmenta impetus towards market oriented policies resulted in legislation that meant a major shakeup and reorganisation with industrial relations.The Industrial Relations Act 1987, the Private Sector Act 1988, and most directly the Employment Contracts Act 1991 were legislation that resulted in significant changes for employers, employees and unions alike.
Fuelled by the economic shocks of the 70’s the Muldoon government intervened in the labour market to deal with increasing inflation – general wage orders, a wage and price freeze were introduced. By the mid-80’s National was replaced by the Fourth Labour government in the 1984 general election and the strategies were reversed. Policy was implemented that set about to deregulate what was at the time one of the most regulated Western economies (Dept. of Labour, 1998). While compulsory arbitrationwas immediately removed, further reforms in the labour market were implemented a few years later through the Labour Relations Act of 1987.
The Act maintained the essential ethos of the existing conciliation and arbitration system. It provided for registered unions, guaranteed bargaining rights, enforced agreements, personal grieva...


... middle of paper ...


...utral and perhaps more encompassing perspective see it as favourable only to a small minority while less so to the larger majority.


Works Cited

Boxall, P, 1991, ‘New Zealand’s Employment Contracts Act 1991: An Analysis of Background, Provisions and Implications’ in Australian Bulletin of Labour, Vol. 17(4), Dec

Harbridge, R & Crawford, A, 1997, ‘The Impact of New Zealand’s Employment Contracts Act Industrial Relations’ in Californian Western International Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1

Kerr, R, 1997, ‘The New Zealand Employment Contract Act: Its Enactment, Performance, and Implications’ in Californian Western International Law Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1

Maloney, T, 1994, Has New Zealand’s Employment Contracts Act Increased Employment and Reduced Wages?, Auckland, Auckland University

Street, M, 1998, Lecture: Employment Relations, Auckland University, September 22

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