The Employment Relations (Validation of Union Registration and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2001 comes into force today after receiving the Royal assent yesterday.

The legislation has passed through the House in largely unchanged from the Bill which was introduced on 3 October 2001.

The only minor amendment made to the Bill is contained in a Supplementary Order Paper moved by Hon Margaret Wilson on 6 November 2001. This changed clause 5 of the Bill, relating to certificates of registration.

As a reaction to the decision of the Court of Appeal in New Zealand Employers Federation Incorporated v National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and Ors (CA 32/01, 24 September 2001), several Unions applied to the Registrar of Unions to have their pre-2 October 2001 registrations cancelled and to be re-registered.

Clause 5 of the Bill originally stated the pre-2 October certificates would be deemed to be read as if they were dated 2 October 2001 and any subsequent certificates would have no effect. However, as some Unions had already cancelled their first certificates of registration, clause 5 potentially left some Unions unregistered.

To address this situation, section 5 now states that if a first certificate of registration was cancelled in an effort to re-register the Union prior to the passing of the amendment Act, then that first certificate shall be treated as if it had not been cancelled and the second certificate of registration will have no effect.

Pursuant to section 5(4), the Registrar of Unions is authorised to issue new certificates of registration dated 2 October 2000 to replace those dated prior to 2 October 2000. If a first certificate of registration had been cancelled and then destroyed the Registrar may also replace that certificate.

Aside from these technical amendments, the Act remains in the same form as the Bill originally introduced to Parliament. Therefore, Union registrations which were declared invalid as a consequence New Zealand Employers Federation Incorporated v National Union of Public Employees and Ors are to be deemed registered and an absolute discretion has been conferred on the Employment Relations Authority to permit or refuse cross-examination.

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