A Labour government would extend paid parental leave from 14 weeks to a minimum of 26, David Cunliffe told trade unionists yesterday in his first big speech since gaining the leadership a month ago.
The adoption of extended paid parental leave as policy was among employment law changes Labour would embark on soon after becoming the government, Mr Cunliffe told the Council of Trade Unions conference in Wellington.
Pledging to "scrap National's unfair labour law changes in the first 100 days" of office, he took aim at National's "fire at will" 90-day trial period for workers, youth rates, its "attacks on collective bargaining" and legislation "taking away smoko and lunch breaks". "The Labour Government I lead will turn back the tide of anti-worker legislation that has been flowing like a river from the Key Government for the last five years. We will be a true red Labour party, not a pale blue one."
He said Labour would also extend paid parental leave from 14 weeks to a minimum of 26 weeks as set out in social development spokeswoman Sue Moroney's member's bill.
Mr Cunliffe said extension of paid parental leave was earmarked for the first term of a Labour government, "but we don't know exactly what the state of the books is going to be yet and we're having to balance that with the need to be fiscally responsible, which we will be".
Mr Cunliffe, who received strong support from unions during the leadership contest, underlined the commitments he made while campaigning for the job.
That included raising the minimum wage immediately to $15 an hour and supporting the "living wage" campaign, leading by example to put in place for all core state sector employees. "Based on the preliminary costings we've done we think that's affordable."
Meanwhile, he denied a report that a Labour MP had not pledged loyalty to him, saying he hadn't sought such pledges. "We've had a general discussion about the need to work together as a team and I'm absolutely delighted that our entire caucus goal is locked in behind our common goal of winning the 2014 election."