Labour’s new pro-union law comes into force tomorrow in an attempt to prevent New Zealand workers from continuing to leave unions, according to ACT's Small Business and Employment spokesman Stephen Berry.

“The Employment Relations Amendment Act will ban some firms and workers from agreeing to a trial period, and require firms to assist unions in recruiting new members and pay for union delegates to carry out union activities. That’s just the start.

“Employees are leaving unions because unions do a terrible job of representing them. Workers want the freedom to contract for themselves. Just 17 per cent of workers now belonging to a union.

“If unions require the government to force employers to do their recruitment, that is a damning indictment on their relevance to workers.

“The Employment Relations Amendment Act is a rigid law. Workplace flexibility is essential for promoting productivity and economic growth. Firms and workers need freedom to adapt to their own circumstances rather than having statutory requirements imposed on them by the Beehive.

“New Zealand’s low rate of productivity growth is scandalous. Our economy is slowing. More red tape will not help raise productivity and wages, or grow jobs and the economy.

“The irony is that Labour’s economic mismanagement will end up hurting the workers it says it wants to help.”

Employment Relations Amendment Act changes:

• 90-day trial periods restricted to firms with 19 or fewer employees
• Employers must give information about unions to prospective employees
• Employers must allow for paid time for union delegates to carry out union activities
• Union representatives can enter workplaces without consent
• New employees must be employed under collective agreement terms for the first 30 days
• Duty to conclude bargaining
• Employers can no longer deduct pay in response to partial strikes
• Set rest and meal breaks for employees.