CTU MEDIA RELEASE
19 September 2008
Unions agree - wage gap is a migration issue
Council of Trade Unions Economist Peter Conway says that unions agree with Bill English when he states that the 'the real wage gap' is an issue that impacts on net migration to Australia.
"But it is the difference in real wages that matter - it is not just an issue about tax, infrastructure and productivity in the government sector as Bill English suggests," Peter Conway said.
"As the Dominion Post's editorial of 9 September 2008 noted, "... the Government's reluctance to cut taxes is not the prime cause of the exodus. Wages and salaries across the Tasman are now a third to a half higher than in New Zealand. Tax cuts will barely make a dent in the imbalance."
"The wage gap with Australia grew by over 50 percent in the 1990s in a period where National removed industry-based wages for workers and only lifted the minimum wage by 87 cents. Since 2000, the wage gap has shrunk by 2.5 percent and the minimum wage has gone up by $5.00."
"It is true that the net loss in the last year was 33,280. But this is not new. For example in 1980 the net loss was 29,618. Back then our population was 3.17 million. Today it is 4.28 million."
"Where does the National Party stand on the minimum wage? And why does their employment relations policy undermine the role of unions in lifting pay for workers? And isn't productivity also about lifting skills? In the 1990s the number of industry trainees was as low as 14,000 in 1993. It did get up to 49,577 in 1999 but that is well below 133,264 this year," Peter Conway said.
"It is time for political parties to spell out in detail how they will lift wages directly through the minimum wage and indirectly through investing in workers and supporting a union role in industry bargaining."