Misconceptions on jobs summit
BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says there are some misconceptions around the outcomes of last week’s jobs summit.
“There seems to be the view that the outcomes are now agreed Government policy.
“The outcomes were actually ideas. However, there was a remarkable degree of consensus, between business, unions and government, on those ideas. Now some work can begin on bringing them to fruition.
“There also seems to be a view that workers will be somehow forced to accept certain things as a result of the jobs summit. My belief is that any choices should be made voluntarily. The point is open for discussion as the work of the summit continues, but the ideas explored last week were certainly about choices being made voluntarily.
“For example the nine-day fortnight wasn’t about all workers having to move to a nine-day fortnight. It was about the idea that where a business was affected by the downturn and was considering redundancies or closure, then underutilised staff might instead have the choice of being assisted to undertake skills training one day a fortnight, with the help of relevant training organisations and government agencies. The idea was to take the payroll pressure off a company that might otherwise have to close or lay off staff.
“The ideas generated at last week’s jobs summit were about choices to be made voluntarily in a situation where there was a threat to the company’s continued existence. In such a case, for example, employees might be able to choose between redundancy or a cut in hours along with assistance to gain extra skills in the downtime.
“Some lay offs will happen. But there is the potential for employers and workers to instead come to other arrangements, with some assistance from government and training organisations.
“This is a much more positive pathway than for example the strikes we see occurring in Ireland.
“There is a great deal of value in this approach and BusinessNZ will continue to work with the Government and the CTU on how it may be advanced.”