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No Surprises Over Government’s Law Change Agenda

No Surprises Over Government’s Law Change Agenda to Cut Wages of Working New Zealanders, Says EPMU

The Government’s plan to give employers more power to cut wages through labour law changes are backward-looking and represent another attack on workers, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

“Let’s face it, there’s never been any secret about the anti-worker, anti-union intent behind the Government’s planned labour law changes,” says EPMU national secretary Bill Newson. “They know that collective bargaining raises incomes and the more it can do to stifle and impede collective bargaining, the more power employers will have to keep a lid on wage growth.”

Mr Newson says rather than the Government wasting time undermining collective bargaining we should put our energies into strategies that significantly raise New Zealand productivity levels so that the country’s businesses are producing higher value goods and services, which in turn will put more money into the economy.

“We need the Government to be focusing on developing open and robust productivity initiatives involving unions and employers that can lead to raising the incomes of all working New Zealanders.“

“You’d have to say that current Government thinking is that our low wage economy is our competitive advantage and it’s determined to make sure we keep our wages low by giving employers more power,” says Mr Newson. “This kind of thinking lacks imagination and initiative and condemns us to the economic doldrums and on-going low wages. Instead what we really need is a completely different national discourse that focuses on how we can significantly raise real incomes.”

The EPMU says an example of different thinking is the Centre for High Performance Work, a joint venture between the EPMU and the Dairy Workers Union. The Centre works with businesses to raise productivity and growth prospects by integrating workers’ shop-floor knowledge into day-to-day production decision making.

“The Centre has shown that where there are high levels of constructive engagement between the employer and its workforce, it’s possible to create a ‘win-win’ with improved business performance and more satisfying and rewarding work,” says Mr Newson.


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