March 28, 2008
National trying to mislead
public on wage gap - EPMU
National is once again trying to mislead the public over the cause of the wage gap between New Zealand and Australia, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
The call follows a claim by National Party deputy leader Bill English that a lack of tax cuts are the reason New Zealand’s wages have fallen behind Australia’s.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says English’s attempt to portray tax cuts as the answer is dishonest.
“Bill English knows full well that Australian incomes are higher than ours because of our low wages and he knows that because it was his party that overnight scrapped rights to overtime pay and penal rates for hundreds of thousands of New Zealand workers in the 1990s.
“By trying to talk up tax-cuts as the answer National is deliberately avoiding the wage issue, but that’s no surprise given last time they were in power most Kiwis’ wages fell. National still haven’t told us what they’d do differently if given another chance, and the small amount of policy we have seen all involves taking rights off workers.
“If you look across the ditch you’ll see that the real reason Australian workers are doing so much better than us is that they never lost their minimum protections and allowances whereas New Zealanders did under National, and we’ve been paying the price ever since.
“National has no answer on wages and that’s why they are so desperate to pretend this is all about tax.”
The EPMU represents 50,000 working New Zealanders and led the WorkRights campaign to stop National’s 90 Day No-Rights legislation in 2006.
The graphs below show the effect National’s employment policies had on Kiwis’ wages and the widening of the transtasman wage gap.
The figures show that between 1990-1999 when National were last in power real average weekly earnings grew by only 0.3%, while at the same time the transtasman wage gap blew out from 18.9% to 28.4%.
Since 1999 real average weekly earnings have grown by 9.3% and the wage gap has widened by just 0.4%.