May 8, 2006
Wage drive continues, despite record rises
Workers this week continue their drive to lift wages, with latest government statistics showing their Fair Share wages campaign has been a success so far.
Tomorrow, the country’s largest trade union, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, goes into talks to renew two key industrial documents – the Metals and Manufacturing Industries multi-employer collective agreement, and the New Zealand Post collective agreement.
National secretary Andrew Little said that members were buoyed by today’s news that wage rates had risen an average 3.3 per cent in the past year – the largest rise since the Labour Cost Index began in 1992.
“Last year, we made a conscious decision to lift real wages in New Zealand – not just by the level of inflation, but to deliver a real rise in the wage packets of working New Zealanders,” he said.
“We started with the Metals agreement last year, and went hard until we had a five per cent settlement. We launched the Fair Share – Five in ’05 campaign off the back of that agreement, and the facts show that it has been successful.”
The Labour Department’s Quarterly Employment Survey shows that average hourly earnings rose 5.2 per cent in the year to March, and the union’s own data indicates that the vast majority of its members have won increases of five per cent or more.
Mr Little said that workers would continue their fight to close the gap between wages here and in Australia.
“There’s no mood to stop now,” he said.
“Economic growth might be going through a bit of a slower patch, but is expected to return to a healthy level over the next 12 months; exporters are benefiting from a fall in the exchange rate; and inflation is still high,” he said.
“Company profitability and senior executive salaries show little sign of moderating.”
Workers covered by the Metals agreement are claiming a seven per cent pay rise, while New Zealand Post workers are campaigning for a five per cent rise. The Metals negotiations will be held in Auckland, and the NZ Post negotiations in Wellington.