October 6, 2005
Unions deliver higher wages
Household incomes are growing because New Zealand workers are standing up and demanding a fair-share of the country’s wealth, says the country’s largest union.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that today’s announcement by Statistics New Zealand that average incomes were up 5.8 per cent in the June quarter confirmed that the union’s Fair Share – Five in ’05 campaign was working.
“Everyone agrees that New Zealand wages are too low, but unions are the only organisations with the strength and unity to do anything about it,” he said.
“This year the union movement has gone on the offensive in the push for higher wages, and it’s paying off. Union members are winning higher wages, and that’s flowing through into other areas.”
Mr Little said that it was particularly pleasing to see that hourly earnings were up 9.5 per cent for trades workers and 7.3 per cent for plant and machine operators and assemblers –areas in which the EPMU was strong.
He warned against complacency, however.
“Wages are not yet at the level they need to be if we are to be internationally competitive,” he said.
“We are meeting resistance from some employers, and we call on them to move away from their short-term, low-wage thinking and to look to the future.”
Mr Little said 84 per cent of the 320 agreements negotiated by the EPMU since the Fair Share campaign was launched in February had included pay rises of five per cent or more, and many of those settled under five per cent included other clauses that lifted the overall settlement.