Shane Jones says NZ First will listen to business sector's concerns over Government's employment reforms

Shane Jones says NZ First will listen to business concerns over employment relations reforms, to tackle low confidence in the business community that have sprouted from the proposed changes.

"We are an ambitious Government; we have a heck of a lot going on," the Regional Economic Development Minister told TVNZ1's Q+A.

But the current low-confidence business community wanted not only more certainty, but also specifics on executing new policy changes.

Apartment construction in Auckland
Construction site in Auckland (file picture). Source:

The Government have proposed a raft of employment changes, including Fair Pay Agreements which would set particular industry-wide standards for pay and conditions through union negotiation.

"We're going to support it, but the full range of provisions… are only understood when you’ve had a chance for the various parties, unions and business to describe how they’re going to be affected," Mr Jones said.

Q+ A host Corin Dann asked Mr Jones if further industrial relations reform needed to be watered down, so that business was more in favour of the changes.

"Our caucus is going to be an account of what was the overarching tone and theme of the submissions, and let's call a spade a spade, this is one of the causes to why people in the business community are saying they’re not totally confident... so there’s no guarantee what will happen," Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones said this was one of the reasons those in the business community were confident about investment decisions, hiring decisions.

"I'm a politician from New Zealand First. I'm entitled to hear the concerns of provincial employers; I’m entitled to hear the concerns of regional leaders."

He said in a full-scale MMP environment, "you don’t get all the things you want".

However, when asked about the possibility of lengthening the time period of NZ First's policy of the minimum wage boost to $20 per hour in 2020, which many in the business community were concerned about, Mr Jones said they knew workers need to be paid more.

"Unless you’re a particularly cold-hearted, malodorous businessman or woman," Mr Jones said.

"I've had a gutsful of seeing ordinary Kiwis in the region who can’t even live from one week to the next."

The Employment Relations Amendment Act is currently in the Select Committee stage, and expected to come in next year. 

The Regional Development Minister said NZ First will support the Amendment Bill, however, the impact on business and other parties needed to be understood. Source: Q+A