28 February 2005
Wage Increases Justified by the Evidence
“There is strong objective evidence to support a minimum five per cent wage lift for all workers,” Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today.
He was responding to statements by Business New Zealand and the Auckland Chambers of Commerce opposing the five per cent wage rise campaign launched yesterday by the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
Ross Wilson said the evidence was there for all to see:
The economy had grown by around 20 per cent in the last five years but wages have gone up by only 10.9 per cent.
Profits were up. Profit per employee went up by 40 per cent in 2002. Employers were predicting a 12 per cent lift in profits this year. Company taxes paid to the Government were up by more than 19 per cent in the last year which showed that employers were making higher profits, because the tax rate had remained the same.
Executive pay rates (except for one survey in late 2004) have regularly gone up by twice as much as workers’ pay.
Pay rates were 25 per cent higher in Australia. We need to keep skilled workers in New Zealand
Unit labour costs fell by nearly one per cent a year for the last five years.
House prices went up by 16 per cent last year - how can wage earners afford to own a home?
The minimum wage set by the Government is due to be increased in March by another 5.6 per cent.
Productivity has gone up by around 1.2 per cent in the last year. This means that despite the huge increase in hours worked, output has gone up by more.
The CTU begins productivity talks with Government and Business NZ representatives today in Wellington.
“We recognise the need to engage around skill development, productivity improvement and industry development,” Ross Wilson said.
But workers wanted a gesture of good faith from employers.
“If workers are to work to achieve further increases in productivity, then they need to see that the benefits will be shared.
“The CTU is calling on all New Zealander workers to get organised in union collective bargaining and get the fair wage increase they are entitled to,” Ross Wilson said.