E tū and the union affiliates to the Labour Party have submitted the following policy for the Labour Party 2023 manifesto. It sets out a framework for a new Autonomous Crown Entity to oversee all worker issues.
Creation of a New Entity
That Labour in Government establishes a new workplace relations entity as an Autonomous Crown Entity (ACE). The ACE would have the power to independently conduct research, provide policy advice, and hold discussions with the public on:
- workplace relations
- employment law
- good workplace practice
- union law
- health and safety law and implementation
- labour market policy
- wages and incomes policy
- economic development policy
- welfare policy as it interacts with paid employment
- vocational and workplace training policy
- workplace and allied statistics
- any other area that in the board’s reasonable opinion will have an impact on workers and workplaces.
The board should consist of up to 9 members and would be filled after consultation with umbrella organisations for business (Business NZ), trade union movement (NZCTU) and Māori (iwi chairs). Two of the board members would come from these organisations as a minimum.
Currently, there is no entity that has the responsibility to oversee the wide-ranging policies that impact on workplace relations. This new entity would hold a power akin to the current power of the Treasury (under the PFA) where it could bring to Cabinet’s attention its view of the merit or otherwise of a policy being proposed by a Minister. It would also be able to request information from other government departments (including Treasury) that it believes is necessary for the undertaking of its role and activities. Where a request is refused this must be reported to the responsible Minister in writing. The new entity would produce an annual report (akin to BEFU) setting out progress on aims that the Minister has set for workplace relations and the wider policy agenda. This report would be the product of the ACE alone, rather than the Government. It would be tabled in the House on an annual basis. The new entity board members would be called before the appropriate select committee in public to answer questions as MPs see fit.