The Metals is here to stay
The Metals agreement will not go away, says the country’s largest union.
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that the Metals agreement had been around for 14 years and would not disappear, despite the wishful thinking of some lobbyists.
Employers’ and Manufacturers’ Association Alasdair Thompson told National Radio this morning that today’s strike by workers covered by the agreement was the beginning of the end for the multi-employer collective agreement, and that the union would have to negotiate company by company.
Mr Little said that the Metals and Manufacturing Industries Collective Agreement – the country’s largest private-sector multi-employer agreement – was a thorn in some political sides because it proved that multi-employer collective agreements worked.
“The Metals has survived because it works for workers and for employers,” he said.
“It sets the going rates across the manufacturing sector, and is a practical and sensible way of organising industrial relations.”
The metals agreement was established in 1991 when the old awards system was scrapped under the Employment Contracts Act.
“For years, the Metal Trades Award led the way in industrial relations,” said Mr Little.
“When the ECA did away with awards, a group of far-sighted employers agreed with the union that a multi-employer agreement was the best way forward. The fact that we have a dispute at the moment does not mean that situation has changed.
“The ‘end of the Metals’ has been predicted many times before. We suggest that the EMA focus its energies on helping to resolve the current dispute.”
Some 2000 workers covered by the Metals agreement are striking today in support of their five per cent pay claim. They have rejected a four per cent offer, saying that they deserve a fair share of the country’s economic boom.