By VERNON SMALL deputy political editor

After three days of tiring and at times farcical debate on the Employment Relations Bill, Parliament will sit at 10 am today to try to complete its part-by-part consideration of the contentious law.

It is only the second time since the Second World War that the House has conducted business on a Monday. The other occasion was during consideration of Ruth Richardson's 1991 "mother of all Budgets."

Shortly before Parliament rose at 11.30 pm on Saturday, the Government moved to add Monday as a sitting day to make up for lost time caused by its own slip-ups, unexpected interruptions and Opposition filibustering.

Since Thursday, the House has sat under urgency, which allows for extended hours, but it does not sit on Sundays.

Five of the 17 sections are still to be considered, along with schedules to the bill.

The Government hopes it can complete the debate by midnight tonight. The third and final reading can then be held tomorrow.

The bill is due to become law on October 2.

The debate was initially expected to be completed on Friday, but Opposition go-slow tactics, a rash of procedural points, more than 700 amendments and a number of surprise interruptions have extended the marathon sitting.

The biggest delay was caused by the Green Party voting against a closure motion last week. That potentially added 18 hours to the available debating time, although this was reduced after a ruling from Speaker Jonathan Hunt.

To slow proceedings, the Opposition has resorted to voting in Maori, which must be translated, and raising points of order whenever possible.

At one stage National whip Gerry Brownlee banged into a door as he entered, then took exception to a comment by the also-generously-proportioned Mr Hunt that he should perhaps "enter sideways."

The Speaker later apologised, but trim New Zealand First whip Ron Mark said such jokes were in bad taste and that great offence would be taken if women members, such as Labour's Judith Tizard, were referred to in the same way.

There were also complaints about dirty toilets in Parliament, although these were later attended to. There was even a discussion about whether a fruit cake was allowed in the chamber - it was decided the offending gateau was not out of order, but its consumption would be.

Cantabrian Mr Brownlee felt moved to congratulate Wellington on their NPC rugby win, while a 10-minute power cut gave the opportunity for points of order on whether the House should debate when it is not being broadcast.

Act leader Richard Prebble took offence at an unpleasant picture of National MP Annabel Young in Wellington's Evening Post newspaper, photographed as she yawned during the marathon committee stage. An inquiry is under way to discover whether the photographer had permission to take the photo of a member who was not speaking.

By Saturday, National and Act had wheeled out 650 amendments and a rash of warnings about the bill's likely impact on business and jobs. But almost all the proposed changes were defeated by Labour and the Alliance with the backing of the Greens.

One change that looks set to get the nod is a move to require 24 hours' notice of a strike or lockout on public transport.

Green MP Sue Bradford said the change, which has the Government's backing, would also require the employer to notify the public of an impending industrial stoppage.