BusinessNZ is accused of misinformation in its handling of an International Labor Organization document which implied New Zealand was found to be in breach of international labor law.
On Monday morning, BusinessNZ said the Fair Remuneration Agreement Bill, currently being consulted by a select committee, had placed New Zealand on an international “despicable list” of the 40 “worst cases of violation” of international labor treaties.
But the list, compiled by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency, was actually a list of alleged violations, which may or may not be heard by a committee later this year.
The reason New Zealand was on the list was that BusinessNZ successfully petitioned the ILO to review whether the Fair Pay Agreement Bill violated international law.
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BusinessNZ’s list, which places New Zealand alongside Afghanistan, Nigeria and China, was titled “‘Worst cases’ of breaches of international labor treaties”.
But the original ILO title for the list was “Preliminary list of cases as submitted by the Social Partners Committee on the Application of Standards”.
BusinessNZ head of labor relations policy Paul Mackay admitted that BusinessNZ had changed the name of the list.
But he said it was not a mistake to say New Zealand was breaking international labor law, when the ILO had made no such ruling.
“It doesn’t have to be a past tense violation. An intent to rape is just as bad,” Mackay said.
BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said “no country ends up on this list unless there is a case to answer”.
The ILO has made no decision on whether the Fair Payment Agreement (FPA) Bill would place New Zealand in breach of international law.
The organization had not decided whether it would hear the New Zealand case, as the list of 40 countries will be reduced to the last 25 that will eventually be heard.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood called BusinessNZ’s actions an “active disinformation campaign”.
“BusinessNZ needs to leave the hyperbole at home and get into the substance,” Wood said.
Wood said the ILO had not made any findings regarding the proposed FPA system, but instead was on a list of policies that could be reviewed.
He said the FPA system would create a high productivity economy that would benefit workers and businesses.
BusinessNZ had been openly against the FPA system since the mechanism was proposed by the government at the end of last year.