February 11, 2004
Pressure on for better wages
Manufacturing workers are seeking a substantial pay rise.
Hundreds of manufacturing workers meeting in Auckland today echoed the views of their colleagues in Wellington and the South Island in saying that they are ready to fight for a decent pay rise.
The workers are gearing up to renegotiate the country’s largest private-sector industrial agreement, the Metals and Manufacturing Industries Collective Agreement.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said that while there were still more mass stopwork meetings to be held, a clear picture was emerging of a workforce determined to stand together to improve their working conditions.
Mr Little said that the current official annual consumer price index figure of 1.6 per cent did not reflect the real increase in the cost of living for workers.
“The CPI does not reflect real life for ordinary people,” he said.
“Just taking out the drop in the price of international airfares alone would lift the CPI to 2.6 per cent. When you consider rises in basic costs like electricity, rent, rates, child care and medical expenses you get a better idea of what it really costs for workers to live in this country.”
Latest Reserve Bank figures show that local authority rates are up 10.8 per cent, gas charges 10.45 per cent, electricity charges 9.32 per cent, water charges 7.53 per cent, parking fees 6.04 per cent, dental services 5.44 per cent, school tuition 5.25 per cent, medical insurance 5.07 per cent, house insurance 4.15 per cent, hospital services 3.97 per cent, vehicle insurance 3.93 per cent, childcare 3.81 per cent, vehicle services and repairs 1.62 per cent and medical costs 2.28 per cent.
A survey by Massey University shows that, across the country, house rents rose 9.5 per cent.
The Metals and Manufacturing Industries Collective Agreement sets the benchmark for wages and conditions in the manufacturing sector, and influences conditions across the private sector. It currently covers workers at more than 200 companies.