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National has no credibility on wages - EPMU

March 31, 2008
Media Release

National has no credibility on wages - EPMU

National’s continued attempts to portray New Zealand’s low wages as a tax issue is politics at its most cynical, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

The call follows today’s claim by National Party Finance spokesman Bill English that tax cuts are the answer to the transtasman wage gap.

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says National’s previous attacks on Kiwi workers’ incomes leaves it with no mandate to speak on their behalf.

“When the National Party fronts up to New Zealand workers and explains it was that party which took away overtime rates of pay, penal rates and shift allowances then we will be in a position to have an honest debate about why wages are such an issue in New Zealand today.

“Bill English has tried to claim tax cuts are a ‘dividend’ for working New Zealanders but the real dividend comes from getting a fair share of the record profits we’ve seen over the last ten years and from getting the benefits of productivity which management needs to work harder at.

“People should not forget that National created the wage gap in the 90’s with their attacks on New Zealanders’ wages and conditions and have consistently opposed every move to raise wages while in opposition including a failed attempt to introduce law that would have taken workers’ rights from them.

“The National Party has no credibility on the issue of working Kiwis’ incomes and until they come clean on their policies on employer contributions to KiwiSaver, protection against unfair dismissal, collective bargaining rights and a proper plan to increase productivity then they can’t expect to be seen as anything other than what they were the last time they were in power – the party of low wages.”

When National were last in power real average weekly earnings grew by just 0.3% over nine years, while at the same time the transtasman wage gap blew out from 18.9% to 28.4%.

The EPMU headed the fair share campaign that has helped drive up New Zealanders’ wages and in 2006 led the campaign to see off Nationals 90 Day No-Rights Bill.

ENDS

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