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Booming economy will test labour market

If recent economic forecasts of a “rock star” New Zealand economy are correct then New Zealand workers should expect pay rises of at least four per cent this year if the labour market is working fairly, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.

“Some business commentators have predicted an economic boom driven by the Canterbury rebuild, on-going high dairy industry returns and improvements in export markets around the world.

“But a survey released by Westpac today suggests less confidence amongst workers, however, with many feeling less job security and fewer expecting a pay rise.

"The economy isn't just investors and business owners, it is working people too - whether they are on a wage or salary or a contract fee - and in a properly functioning economy they should also see decent pay rises and better incomes this year.

"Bill English said this morning as he prepared to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos that economic benefits had to be shared with workers.

"How nice that the Minister of Finance has had a pang of conscience but he might also wonder how the benefits of economic growth are going to be shared when every bit of employment legislation this government has passed in the last six years has made employment less secure and made it harder to get a pay increase.

"The real test of how fair our labour market rules are is the level of pay increases working New Zealanders will get this year, especially those not under a collective agreement.

"If you look at the drivers of growth and the expectations of the level of growth as well as factors such as interest rate rises predicted from April, then a reasonable level of wage growth will be at least 4 per cent, with higher levels justified in sectors like construction.

"If we don't see this level of wage growth then the labour market isn't working."


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