October 18, 2005
Industrial action puts $9m in workers’ pockets
Industrial action over the past quarter has put an extra $9 million in the pockets of working people, says the country’s largest union.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little, who has been leading the Fair Share – Five in ’05 campaign, said that work stoppage statistics out today showed that working people were prepared to take action for a decent income for them and their families.
According to Statistics New Zealand, there were 16 work stoppages in the June quarter, involving 4741 people.
“The labour cost index, and our own research, show that average pay rise is now five per cent. Based on the average income of $38,000, a five per cent pay rise would have delivered $1900 a year to each of those 4741 people,” Mr Little said.
“Collectively, that’s $9m more in the pockets of working people, and that’s not taking into account the flow-on effect to people who haven’t taken industrial action.”
Mr Little said there was a lot of emphasis put on the amount of wages workers lost in industrial action, but the benefits were ignored.
“The official figures show that those 4741 people lost $1.367m in wages, so they’re more than $7.6m better off,” he said.
“Working people understand the costs of industrial action and do not make the decision to take action lightly. But they also understand the benefits, and at the moment they are saying that they are prepared to fight for a fair share of our country’s economic wealth.”
Mr Little said that while industrial action was up on previous quarters, it was still well below the levels of the 1970s, when there were more than 400 stoppages a year.