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Study investigates workers’ wages

19 July 2005


Study investigates workers’ wages

New Zealanders’ pay packets have risen over the last year but those on the lowest wages are still lagging behind, according to a new report produced by Victoria University’s Industrial Relations Centre.

Employment Agreements: Bargaining Trends & Employment Law Update 2004/2005 found that New Zealand workers’ pay rose by an average 2.8% in the year to June 2005. This is the largest pay increase for workers on collective agreements for the last 14 years, with a yearly average of just 2.2%.

Professor of Human Resource Management & Industrial Relations, George Lafferty, says the period 2000-2005 has seen more rapid wages growth than during the previous five years.

“However, increases are modest considering historically low unemployment, high economic growth and greater demand for skilled labour. And, not all New Zealand workers are enjoying better pay.”

For workers on the lowest wages contained in collective agreements, there was an average increase of just $12 (2.5 per cent) for the year to June 2005 – and of just more than $10 per year for the last 14 years.

Professor Lafferty says there are industries where the lowest wage has increased by less than $1 each year for the last 14 years. And more than 300 collective agreements contain wage rates that do not meet the new legal minimum of $9.50 per hour.

And there was reason to be concerned about New Zealanders’ savings for retirement.

“There is a low rate of superannuation arrangements with 57 per cent of workers covered by collective employment agreements having no superannuation provision,” he said.

Only 12 per cent of the private sector employers made contributions to workers’ super schemes, and these payments ranged from $1.20 to $89 per week.

The Industrial Relations Centre will be presenting analysis from its most recent survey of collective employment agreements, at seminars in Dunedin, Christchurch, Hamilton and Auckland over the next two weeks. For information about the seminars visit: www.vms.vuw.ac.nz/irc

ENDS

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