Government's Fair Pay Agreements will drive up costs for businesses and is 'another step back to the 1970s' -National

The National Party says Fair Pay Agreements being introduced by the Government will drive up costs for businesses.

The Government announced today that former Prime Minister Jim Bolger will lead a Government working group of business people and unions that'll flesh out the new system for negotiating pay and conditions.

But National's Workplace Relations spokesperson Scott Simpson says Fair Pay Agreements are "another step in going back to the 1970s".

"There won't be an opportunity for individual businesses to employ people on their own terms. And it'll be bad for employees just as much as it is for employers," Mr Simpson said.

Mr Bolger was a Minister of Labour under the National Party before his time as Prime Mininster. He believes there needs to be a new way of working to ensure no one misses out.

"There's extreme wealth at one end, and frankly extreme poverty at another end. I don't find that a successful model," he said.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the Fair Pay Agreement system "is one of the most significant changes that a Government has proposed to the industrial relations framework for many years". 

And he said Mr Bolger "is exactly the right man to pull that team together" as chair of the working group.

Fair Pay Agreements allow bosses and unions to work together to set minimum terms and conditions for all workers in that industry.

"The best example of this is the care and support worker settlement where everyone is a care and support worker. No matter who their employer is, regardless of whether they are in a union or not, they now have a set of minimum terms and conditions," Mr Lees-Galloway said.

There were concerns that could lead to industry-wide strikes, so the Government is banning them. 

"There are other ways to deal with impasses and disagreements than just industrial action," the Minister said.

The agreements won't be available until at least next year.

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger will lead the Fair Pay Agreements. Source: 1 NEWS



Ten children taken to hospital after plane emits unknown substance over Carterton school


Ten primary school children in Carterton have been taken to Wairarapa Hospital after a plane is thought to have accidentally sprayed the school with pesticide. 

The incident happened at approximately 1pm at South End School in the town.

Wellington Free Ambulance says 10 children with moderate symptoms have been transported to the hospital in Masterton and paramedics are treating 40 other people - children and adults - with very minor symptoms. 

Four ambulances and a Lifeflight helicopter are being used, Geoff Procter of Wellington Free Ambulance said. 

“We are taking a precautionary approach. All the children and their families are being well looked after with extra food and water," he said. 

One-hundred-and-seven people are going through a decontamination process, consisting of washing down, and fresh dry clothes, Mr Procter said. 

"The decontamination process takes a while. We’re all here and on hand to make sure everyone is safe and well.” 

Symptoms the affected children have are generally low-level, consisting of nausea, vomiting and itchy eyes, he said. 

Mr Procter advises that if anyone‘s condition deteriorates, call 111. 

Parents have been seen arriving at the school with a change of clothes and children are slowly coming out one by one in towels. 

A plane is suspected of accidentally spraying the school with pesticide and several children have been hospitalised. Source: 1 NEWS

Carterton Fire senior station officer Wayne Robinson said local people have been presenting to the local medical centre after the incident. 

A 1 NEWS reporter at the scene says there are numerous appliances there and roads are blocked in several directions. 

NZ First MP Ron Mark who lives in Carterton has told 1 NEWS it seems a plane has accidentally sprayed the school with pesticide.

Police say they are investigating and are going door to door in the area checking on residents' welfare and trying to locate the source of the smell. 

They are also searching the school's grounds.

Carterton District Mayor John Booth says parents are very worried. 

A statement on the school's Facebook page read: "A plane flew in a southward direction and one student had seen 'stuff' coming out of the plane - so we assume it was a fertiliser of some sort - several students have experienced feeling quezzy and ucky."

Parents waiting outside South End School.
Parents waiting outside South End School. Source: 1 NEWS

This follows a report of an aircraft dropping an unknown substance near the school. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Dairy owners could be hit by restrictions on tobacco sales

Some Auckland dairy owners are optimistic that limiting where tobacco is sold could reduce the number of robberies.

Early findings from a Regional Public Health survey of Auckland dairy owners suggest they may be on board with legislation that will only permit the sale of tobacco from specialist stores.

While the idea has received support from some, others said it would drastically reduce sales and force some shops to shut down.

On Thursday night, there was a steady stream of customers filing through a West Auckland dairy.

The owner, who asked not to be named out of fear her store would be targeted for stocking tobacco, supported the idea of specialist, tobacco-only stores.

She said it could be the solution to reducing the number of dairy robberies.

"It may reduce it in the fact that being a specialised store, if the security and everything is correct, it might reduce it," she said.

It would likely affect her sales but she was confident her store would stay open.

"I suppose, there is something else a person would buy so I wouldn't really worry about it too much."

Just under 20 Auckland dairy owners were surveyed - and most of those businesses were family-owned.

Dean Adam, from Regional Public Health, said despite some owners being in the business for 35 years an increase in dairy robberies had caused anxiety for owners and many were happy to ditch the products.

"For them, they were quite happy not to sell this [tobacco] but their fear is that the dairy across the road is still selling it they're not going to be competitors, they'll lose business and for some of them, the margins are really small."

Auckland's Crime Prevention Group president Sunny Kaushal was surprised by the initial findings.

Many dairy owners relied on tobacco to boost sales, he said.

"Customers who are coming to buy the cigarettes are also buying a lot of other stuff from the shops so stopping these kinds of cigarettes would in fact damage their business."

The legislation could force many dairies to shut shop, he said.

"So many people are now self-employed, currently running their dairies and shops they would become un-employed."

Better solutions that reflected the "ground reality" for shop owners were needed, he said.

The preliminary results of the study are discussed in the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal.

Katie Scotcher

rnz.co.nz 

Auckland's Crime Prevention Group president Sunny Kaushal says many dairy owners rely on tobacco to boost sales. Source: rnz.co.nz

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

HNZ promises 'genuine' approach to compensation for tenants turfed out after meth testing fiasco

Housing New Zealand is promising to take a considered approach to compensating those who were turfed out of their homes unecessarily.

As many as 800 current and former state house tenants will be eligible for some form of assistance, following a report released by the agency yesterday acknowledging it was wrong to evict them on the basis of methamphetamine contamination.

That could range from an apology from Housing New Zealand, to cancellation of meth-related debt and repayment, to a grant for household items and moving costs.

The Housing Minister Phil Twyford expects that to be in the $2-$3,000 range.

"But it's going to be done on a case-by-case basis, so it could end up in certain circumstances being more than that. So several thousand dollars, likely," he said.

The agency is undergoing a range of changes. On Friday Mr Twyford announced the Government would enshrine in law the objectives of Housing New Zealand, which he said overall are "to provide decent housing and be a fair and compassionate landlord."

Part of the change is scrapping the requirement for the agency to return a surplus to the Government.

Mr Twyford said this will give Housing New Zealand financial flexibility, so it can build more state houses and invest in more support for tenants.

But an Associate Professor at Massey University Chris Wilkins, who heads the drug research team at SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, is questioning the decision not to provide blanket compensation to state housing tenants - saying it could save the agency money.

He predicts issues in finding evidence of tenants using methamphetamine and being responsible for it, given it is now accepted that the standard for safety is much higher.

Mr Twyford said the standard for receiving a pay out is based on the former chief science advisor Sir Peter Gluckman's report [ https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/358454/meth-house-contamination-debunked-by-pm-s-science-advisor], which said levels 10 times higher than the ones people were evicted for were still unlikely to have adverse effects on health.

Mr Wilkins said court action could be likely, if Housing New Zealand refuses compensation for some tenants.

"I think that's a real possibility. Given that they're not paying out too much, and there's a lot of fault here from both the scientific view and the policy development view and the agencies that carried out the policy...

"If I was Housing New Zealand, I'd look for a way to basically resolve this as quickly as possible and try and make good on some of those issues."

Housing New Zealand is encouraging all those who may be eligible for an assistance pay out to contact a dedicated Meth Line on 0800 006 077 or email meth.enquiries@hnzc.co.nz.

It said this will be a "genuine process" and that the team will take a "comprehensive, considered approach to how the right form of assistance is assessed for our tenants."

Gia Garrick

rnz.co.nz

Housing New Zealand houses. Source: rnz.co.nz


Qantas expands Asian routes in deal with Cathay Pacific

Qantas customers will have more options to fly across southeast Asia under a new agreement with Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific.

The pair have signed a codeshare agreement that will allow Qantas customers to book flights on Cathay Pacific routes from Hong Kong to Perth and Cairns and to 10 cities across India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

In turn, Cathay Pacific customers will be able to book flights on 13 Qantas domestic routes.

Qantas International chief executive Alison Webster said today the partnership was part of the flying kangaroo's growth strategy in the broader Asian region.

There's "strong demand" for travel between Australia and Asia, Ms Webster said in a statement.

The two airlines fly more than 100 services a week between Hong Kong and Australia, with the new coded flights starting October 28.

Qantas shares were up 5.0 cents, up 0.84 per cent, to $6.02 today.

Melbourne, Australia - November 19, 2012: Qantas Airways Airbus A380 registered VH-OQF takes off as QF93 to Los Angeles (LAX) from Melbourne International Airport at Tullamarine, Victoria.
Qantas plane (file picture). Source: istock.com