CTU MEDIA RELEASE
22 April 2008
Employers need to look in the mirror on migration
“Employers need to look in the mirror to find the main reason why people leave New Zealand to live in Australia,” CTU president Helen Kelly said today.
“The fact is that the wage gap with Australia grew by 50% in the 1990s in the period of the Employment Contracts Act – a law promoted by employers. Since 1999, the wage gap has grown by just over 1%.”
“The level of net migration to Australia has been higher in the past – even when our population was closer to 3 million compared with 4.25 million. There is no doubt however that the continued loss of workers to Australia is a major issue.”
“To suggest that a tax cut would solve the problem is incorrect. It might assist at the margin, but fundamentally the problem is that wages in New Zealand are 30% lower than in Australia.”
“Unions have put forward a three point plan to lift wages – a rise in the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage (around $15), industry and multi-employer bargaining, and ongoing investment in skills, technology and best practice in workplaces to lift the value of goods and services.”
Helen Kelly said that it is time for employers to meet with unions on an industry basis to discuss how to lift wages.
“This is a much more constructive approach for employers – rather than blame everyone else,” Helen Kelly said.