Act Employment spokesman Stephen Berry has responded to the release of the MBIE’s ‘Designing a Fair Pay Agreements
System’ discussion paper for consultation. This follows the release of the Fair Pay Agreement Working Groups
recommendations in December 2018.
“The prospect of an industry-wide awards systems has been off the radar for much of this year, thanks to the Government
delivering one policy failure after another. However their trade union donors are growing impatient, flexing their
muscles at the bi-annual CTU Conference last week.”
Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff said, “The work on designing good Fair Pay Agreements has already
largely been done by the Government’s Joint Working Group of unions and business. The Labour Party have pledged their commitment to Fair Pay Agreements
, but action is needed to turn the concept into reality."
Stephen Berry says, “Comments from Minister Ian Lees-Galloway, the CTU President and the discussion paper peddle the
same falsehoods proclaimed in the Working Group’s report. Further regulations stipulating the content and the process of
engaging in contract negotiations are driven by the fantasy of employers competing by driving wages down.
“Employers have already been burdened by a 7.3% increase in the minimum wage this year, on its way to $20 an hour by
2021. The record increases have shifted the goal posts toward the so-called ‘living wage’ in collective negotiations,
because no union will accept the minimum wage is sufficient, however high it is set. Were supermarkets slashing wages to
compete then it would have been reflected in the Food Price Index, however September’s result shows an increase of just
2.2% on last year; much of that driven by restaurant, ready to eat and takeaway foods. Fruit and vegetable prices are
down 1% and grocery foods up just 1.6%.
“Should this discussion paper make its way through the legislative process with union submissions attached, New Zealand
employers face nationwide standards regardless of whether they are operating in Auckland or Southland, despite the chasm
in living costs between those regions. These sector-wide minimums could be triggered in the supermarket industry by just
1.7% of workers demanding a Fair Pay Agreement process. That leaves those on individual agreements at the mercy of union
negotiators and ‘good faith provisions.’
“Individual workers risk significant disadvantage and the potential for bargaining fees being inflicted through the FPA
negotiation process. This is compulsory unionism by stealth!”
Union density sits at 17%; just 10% of private sector workers belong to a union with the bulk of members in public
sector monopolies (60% density). “When Kiwi’s have the right to choose, they choose freedom. Rejected by New Zealanders
for decades, Trade Unions fight our freedom.”