March 10, 2005
Interest rise will fuel wages push
News that interest rates are to rise will increase workers’ determination to win a five per cent “fair share” pay rise, says the country’s largest union.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that raising interest rates by 25 points to 6.75% would hurt working people in their pockets.
“Most people are paying mortgages or rent to keep a roof over their families’ heads,” he said. “Rising interest rates will leave them with less money for other essentials, and will fuel the push for a decent pay rise.”
Last month the EPMU launched the Fair Share – 5 in 05 campaign for a minimum 5 % pay rise for all working people.
Mr Little today rejected claims that the campaign had contributed to the interest rate rise.
“A 5 % wage rise is not inflationary because of the significant growth in the economy and the profitability that companies are showing,” he said.
Wages rises would be staggered over a two-year period as existing collective agreements expired, he said.
“It’s not as if there would be a surge in labour costs all at once,” he said. “It will be spread over two years.”
Mr Little said that he had met Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard yesterday to explain the union’s wages position.
Meanwhile, hundreds of workers will attend a stop-work meeting in Auckland at 1pm today – the first since the key Metals industry agreement expired on Monday.
Last week, more than 1000 workers covered by the Metals and Manufacturing Industries Collective Agreement attended a stop-work meeting in Auckland at which they voted to reject an employer offer of a 3.2% pay rise.
The employers, represented by the Northern EMA, have now said that they consider negotiations to be over.