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On 10-11 July 2013, Stand Up, the youth union movement of the New Zealand Council Trade Unions, organised a two day conference for more than 60 young unionists from across New Zealand. The theme was: “Modernising Unions to Connect with Young Workers”. Seventeen Public Service Association (PSA) members participated in this conference.
There were a number of speakers, including Sandra Grey, Alex White, Joseph Scales and Owen Jones, who skyped in from London. PSA's National Youth Convenor, Asher Goldman, was elected as one of the two co-convenors of Stand Up at the conference, alongside with Vera Williams from education union NZEI.
One highlight was the ideas workshops, which were held after each of the speakers. They seemed to ignite a spark in members for greater youth engagement.
There was also an opportunity for participant-led workshops and PSA-led one on the Employment Relations Amendment to educate participants on the proposed change. The aim of this Bill is to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 in relation to collective bargaining, flexible working arrangements, good faith bargaining, rest break and meal break provisions, and the Employment Relations Authority. The Bill also introduces an exemption from certain requirements of Part 6A of the Act (relating to continuity of employment) for small to medium enterprises.
Unions consider that this amendment fundamentally undermines the principle of collective bargaining, and lead to a reduction in pay and conditions. This would mean workers couldn't campaign or take industrial action in support of the agreements, which is a breach of New Zealand's international obligations.
The participants discussed the real life effect and how they could go about writing a submission against it.