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Wage talks suspended No settlements under 5%

Wage talks suspended No settlements under 5 per cent

New Zealand’s largest union today announced that it will settle no wage agreements for less than a 5 per cent pay rise.

“All bargaining that does not come up to that level is suspended,” Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little told a press conference in Auckland this morning to launch the union’s Fair Share – 5 in 05 campaign.

The announcement comes in the wake of Thursday’s break-down in negotiations to renew the influential Metals and Manufacturing Industries Agreement.

The EPMU has more than 50,000 members in industries including aviation, forestry, manufacturing, steel, mining, the media, postal, plastics, engineering and printing. It negotiates more than 1000 collective agreements a year, of which the Metals agreement is the most important, covering more than 2000 workers at more than 200 companies directly, and setting the going rates and conditions across the manufacturing sector.

Workers in the Metals went into negotiations on Tuesday claiming a 7 per cent rise, but dropped to 5 per cent in an effort to reach a settlement. The employers, represented by the EMA (Northern), made a top offer of 3.2 per cent, and talks broke down on Thursday.

Mr Little told today’s press conference that 5 per cent was a realistic pay claim in New Zealand’s buoyant economy.

“Productivity is up, the economy is growing and profits are soaring,” he said. “Some might say we are being too restrained in setting a bottom line of 5 per cent, but we believe that 5 per cent is a realistic claim that will give a real wage rise to working people.”

Mr Little said that the campaign had the support of the union movement.

“Since Thursday, I have held in-depth discussions with the leaders of all major unions,” he said.

“What you are seeing today is the start of a long and determined campaign to secure a fair share for New Zealand working people.

Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson was present at the press conference.

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