ACT leader Dr Jamie Whyte said the policy would look to the past in helping New Zealand businesses to better plan for the future.
“It’s tough to be a business owner in the current economic environment,” said Dr Whyte.
“There are so many demands on business owners. We know they are working harder than ever, trying to get ahead and be competitive. But the Employment Relations Act provides so little flexibility. It forces businesses to operate in an environment that stifles innovation.
“Businesses continue to be tied down by workplace laws that insist on employees being paid. These laws cost businesses money.”
Dr Whyte said that the fortnightly pay cycle was crippling many small businesses, driving many of them to the wall.
“The need to fund wages and salaries makes it difficult for businesses to grow, and reduces efficiency and global competitiveness.
“It’s ironic that ACT is so often the subject of attack from unions and the left, when our policies actually help workers to get ahead. If businesses did not have to pay their workers, they could afford to employ more people.
“Today I am announcing an exciting new policy initiative to address this imbalance, and to provide more choice to both employers and workers.
“In looking to the future we should not be afraid to look back at the past. We can learn a lot from the study of history. That’s why the ACT Party will reintroduce slavery to the workplace.”
Dr Whyte insisted slavery was not in any way inconsistent with the principles of freedom and choice. “We stand behind those principles, which is why it won’t be mandatory to run a slavery workplace. We will also give employees the right to opt out of slavery workplaces.
“The option of slavery will give employers more tools to help them grow their businesses, while the opt out will give workers the choice to find work elsewhere.
“People may think they know how slavery works, but do they really? It’s an idea that has had some bad publicity over the years, but only because the right model hasn’t been tried. We believe we have developed the right model. A model that gives employees genuine choice about whether or not to become slaves.”
Under ACT’s model employers will be able to offer workers the option of becoming slaves. The model will enable employees and employers to negotiate for themselves how they want their workplaces to be run, without the interference of the state. Changes to the Crimes Act will ensure employers are able to deploy a full range of negotiation strategies without the interference of the police, lawyers, unions, and human rights advocates.
“We’re confident that most employees will happily choose slavery when they hear what their bosses have to say during those closed-doors negotiations,” said Dr Whyte.
“The benefits of slavery are so obvious. The Roman Empire was built on slavery, and Rome rose to become the most powerful nation on Earth. Another Empire, the British, prospered enormously from the efforts of tens of thousands of West Indian plantation slaves. If slavery was good enough for these great empires, why isn’t it good enough for us?
“As a proud New Zealander I want this country to be great again. We can be great again, but we must be prepared to make bold decisions about our future. Slavery offers a way forward for businesses struggling to compete in a global economy.
“Employment law must give freedom to employers and employees to come to arrangements that suit them both. The reintroduction of slavery will give both parties that freedom.”