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Economy, Labor

Employment Relations Act, Wage rates, legal access, union representatives, ECA

New Zealand has a workforce of about 1.9 million people, 55 percent of whom are male. The proportions of the workforce in different sectors of the economy closely mirror each sector’s share of GDP. Wage rates are modest, and GDP per capita is $13,030 (in U.S. dollars). The unemployment rate was 6 percent of the workforce in 2000. The first labor unions were established in the mining industry more than a century ago. Union membership became compulsory, and trade unions negotiated wage increases for their members. In 1991 the Employment Contracts Act (ECA) reversed the country’s union traditions and promoted the rapid deregulation of the labor market. It made unionism voluntary and enhanced the employer’s bargaining power. Union membership decreased by about half, to about 300,000 workers. In 2000, however, the ECA was replaced by the Employment Relations Act (ERA), under which union membership remained voluntary but union powers were strengthened. Only unions are allowed to negotiate collective contracts, and union representatives once again have legal access to workplaces.

Article key phrases:

Employment Relations Act, Wage rates, legal access, union representatives, ECA, labor unions, unemployment rate, Union membership, trade unions, workforce, proportions, labor market, dollars, mining industry, ERA, century, percent, New Zealand, workers, economy, workplaces, people


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