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Fair Pay workgroup exciting announcement but…

Fair Pay workgroup exciting announcement but…
Urgency cannot be underrated when it comes to worker welfare

There’s huge relief for every New Zealand worker this afternoon as the Government signals a return to supporting industry standards.

Labour’s announced a workgroup headed by Rt Hon Jim Bolger to focus on establishing Fair Pay Agreements to help design a multiple bargaining system to lift wages and productivity in New Zealand. These Fair Pay Agreements will work slightly differently to the previously used FPAs, MECAs and Industry Awards, these details will be discussed and decided upon within the working group.

FIRST Union welcomes the move, fair pay is a must if New Zealand is to have a highly-skilled and competitive workforce as industry standards protect pay across the board, and protect businesses that do pay workers fairly.

Retail, finance and commerce secretary Tali Williams Fair Pay Agreements are one way to bring the whole industry into line and provide a fair playing field but concerns do remain around strike action.

“To ensure these agreements deliver improved wages and conditions rather than pander to the low paying employers pushing the bar down– workers need to retain their right to take industrial action to support their Fair Pay Agreement claims.”

Ms Williams says many workers in the retail industry in New Zealand are trying to survive on minimum wages and inequalities in industry pay for the same job penalises businesses that do treat workers right. “While some major retail chains negotiate with our union and provide decent wages and conditions they face unfair competition by minimum wage retailers.”

FIRST Union transport, logistics and manufacturing secretary Jared Abbott says minimum terms and conditions specific to industries, such as in Australia would be very valuable to New Zealanders.

“Amongst developed countries New Zealand’s actually the odd-ball here, industry standards should be standard.”

He says industry standards are the backbone of an equal society.

“It allows people to have a healthy work life balance, and to play an active part in their families’ lives, and their communities.”

Mr Abbott says it provides an exciting and timely opportunity for the transport sector.

“The eroding of worker welfare and safety within the transport industry has shown us exactly what needs to be done so we’re ready to come to the table to end this nasty battle. We welcome the involvement of multiple unions and businesses.”

But Mr Abbott says he hopes the workgroup realises the importance of swift action.

“For the sake of every New Zealander no matter their income bracket or industry, urgency is needed to ensure they can live healthy work lives.”

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Ian Lees-Galloway says the best way to create a high-wage economy is through productivity and growth, Mr Abbot says it’s not a new issue to unions.

“We only hope that the Government realises wages have been lagging behind productivity growth for some time now, with the Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff on the team we believe this will be made salient.

Income inequality is almost at a crisis point; New Zealand remains well above the OCED average and we have been unable to substantially turn the tide since 2006, even then it was a blip on the radar.”

He says as well as the transport sector, it could affect horticulture, which has some of the most varied pay rates of any industry in New Zealand.


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