Employment Law Proposals Officially Signal End to Catching up with Australia Goal
Today’s employment law proposals officially signal the end of John Key’s goal of catching up with Australian wages, a
union for low paid workers says.
Cabinet today approved proposed changes to employment law that weaken collective bargaining, including removing an
obligation to complete negotiations, and removal of the provision of new workers to benefit from union-negotiated
conditions for the first 30 days while they consider joining the union.
FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said that New Zealand had a structural problem with low wages, and more
workers bargaining collectively was one of the best ways to fix this.
“Any government genuinely committed to closing the wage gap with Australia would want to see an increase in the numbers
of workers coming together to lift their wages,” he said.
“Instead, we have a government that makes only tiny increases to the minimum wage, and puts more barriers in the way of
workers accessing unions to bargain collectively with their workmates.”
Victoria University research indicated union negotiated wage increases were typically over 3 per cent in the past year,
he said. This contrasts with general wage increases reported by Statistics NZ figures of 2 per cent on average.
Robert Reid said in the retail sector some of the strongest wage growth had come from unionised workplaces, including a
10% increase for Countdown supermarket union members over a two year period.
“But retail workers without access to unions are typically on little more than the minimum wage. To go anywhere near
matching Australian wages, these workers need access to unions.”
“National has no strategy to lift wages.
Worse, it has an agenda, confirmed today, to see wages held down for those with jobs, and welfare reforms that seek to
punish those without jobs.”
“John Key has said these proposals are minor. They are anything but,” Robert Reid said.