Former Labour leader Andrew Little has challenged Business New Zealand to stop "whinging and moaning" and to be part of the solution.

Little appeared at the Business NZ political conference at Te Papa today, sitting on an employment panel with National's Michael Woodhouse and other MPs.

All participants were asked to address questions including whether the 90-day trial would continue under their party or be abolished and on potential reform of wage bargaining.

Little didn't mince his words, saying some of the questions were "loaded and dumb".

Advertisement

"I have a message for Business New Zealand - which is you are either part of the problem in this world, or you are part of the solution. And I want Business New Zealand to be part of the solution."

The business community needed to realise it is "not all about you", Little told the audience, saying Labour's education policy would focus on lifting the quality of teaching, giving all students access to a digital device, and introduce three years' free tertiary education or training.

Little said Labour would keep the 90-day trial periods but would introduce a "fairness requirement" into the law, requiring employers to give feedback to any worker they let go.

There would also be a fair, quick and efficient means of addressing claims and dealing with any grievances.

He took issue with Business NZ analysis on the policy, which claimed it would promote increased unemployment for young and unskilled workers.

Quality research on the 90-day trial period had found it didn't create any new jobs, Little said.

"Why do we have 70,000 young people not in work, education or training at the moment if the 90-day law was going to create all these jobs?"

On wage bargaining, Little said there was something wrong with the wage system when 40 per cent of children living in households below the poverty line have working parents.

Little said he hoped the next Labour Government could engage constructively with business on how to change that.

"For Business New Zealand - either you are part of the problem and you stand on the sidelines whinging and moaning about solutions that other people come up with. Or you are part of the solution. And I just invite you to get with the programme."