THE NEED FOR SPEED

Change appears daunting and suspicious when we’re not quite sure what
the changing landscape will look like.
This kind of suspicion has dominated employer response to
the Employment Relations Bill introduced to the House in March this year.
“While aimed at protecting the most vulnerable workers, employers remain suspicious that corresponding resurgence of union power will drive an unnecessary wedge between them and their staff,” reports Mark Story in our cover story called “Goodwill Hunting”.
In fact, some employers fear that employees, who are the subjects of protection, may become the real casualties. They could face unemployment if there are business failures.
That’s because employers believe the ERB will clash with some of the key characteristics of the new economy – the need to move quickly, and the need to be flexible.
“Not being able to shrink and expand overheads quickly to changing market conditions could contribute to business failure,” Business Round Table head Ralph Norris, told Mark Story.
“The proposed bill is about providing certainty of tenure. So for companies trying to remain competitive through constant outsourcing, the proposed Bill could be highly restrictive.
“Having to open the books to union scrutiny could severely handcuff company’s ability to re-engineer its business in response to the fast-changing environment in which it operates,” adds Norris.
Legal opinion on the matter is that while the ERB won’t signal return to the dark ages, the onus is on employers to take proactive stance before the bill is enshrined in legislation in July and into practice in August.
Afterall, it’s the employers who tackle changes head on who will ride the transition the best.

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