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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In New Zealand, there has been a long tradition of collectivism and state provision of employment dispute resolution processes, including facilitated bargaining, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. However, the neoliberal policy shift from the mid-1980s and onwards prompted a move from collectivism to individualism, including a rise in individual employment agreements, personal grievances, and formal legal advocacy. In spite of recent legislative change with a renewed emphasis on collectivism and state provision of flexible, informal alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes, individual grievances—especially concerning employment termination—have continued to dominate the cases lodged at the employment institutions. The chapter highlights a fundamental tension between flexible, informal dispute resolution and pressures for more legal certainty and formalized, legal processes. We also note the imbalance of power in the employment relationship and the exclusion of some vulnerable workers from the full suite of dispute resolution processes.

Keywords: dispute resolution, mediation, arbitration, conciliation, personal grievances, employment relationship problems

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