Media release 23 September 2003
CTU attack inaccurate, unbalanced
The CTU's misuse of a Canadian report as an excuse to bash the structural reforms of the '80s and early '90s relies on inaccurate and unbalanced interpretation, says Business NZ.
The Index of Labour Market Well-Being for OECD Countries* compares worker well-being in 16 OECD countries from 1980 to 2001.
The CTU claims the report confirms its mantra that the Employment Contracts Act and the reforms of the 1980s and 1990s were bad for employees.
In fact, the report makes it clear that almost all the 1980-2001 erosion in real wages took place in 1983 - the year of the wage and price freeze - and that incomes have risen consistently since 1986 (see chart 14).
New Zealand's performance against the Index has improved steadily since 1991 - the year the Employment Contracts Act was passed (see chart 21). The point that seems to elude the CTU is that other countries have grown more consistently than New Zealand and that richer countries can pay their workforces better.
Nevertheless, since the early 1990s the New Zealand economy has produced over 450,000 new jobs. The reforms of the '80s and '90s also produced a halving in the unemployment rate since December 1991.
*Index of Labour Market Well-Being for OECD Countries by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Living Standards, downloadable on www.csls.ca