Workers want action on high dollar
Government action to bring New Zealand’s overvalued exchange rate into balance is crucial if New Zealand is going to lift wages, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.
The call follows Finance Minister Bill English’s claim today that bringing down the New Zealand dollar would mean a cut in real wages.
EPMU national secretary Bill Newson says a high wage economy needs a balanced exchange rate and a strong manufacturing sector.
“Bill English appears to be under the illusion we can build a high wage economy on the back of cheap imported consumer goods. He forgets we still need the jobs to pay for them.
“The reality is imported consumer goods don’t drive wage growth. High wages come from having a strong productive sector and good employment laws that ensure the benefits of growth are shared with workers.
“Workers and employers are united in calling for action on the exchange rate because we see first-hand the damage the high dollar is doing to New Zealand’s manufacturing sector.
“This crisis in manufacturing is doing real damage to New Zealanders’ wages and conditions as good, well paid manufacturing jobs disappear and are replaced by low paid casualised work or, increasingly, a one-way ticket to Australia.
“If Bill English thinks his hands-off approach is supported by workers I’d suggest he reads some of our members’ submissions to the manufacturing inquiry. Better yet, he could go and talk to the families who are paying the price for his failed policies at places like Summit Wool Spinners, Tiwai Point, Norske Skog and Spring Creek.”
Since 2008 New Zealand’s manufacturing sector has lost 40,000 jobs.
Workplaces hit by mass redundancies in recent months include Solid Energy’s Spring Creek and Huntly East mines, Norske Skog’s paper mill in Kawerau, the Tiwai Point aluminimum smelter, Axiam Metals, Nuplex Industries, Flotech, Summit Wool Spinners, Goulds Fine Foods, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, Kiwirail, Christchurch Engine Centre, Dynamic Controls, Rakon and Carter Holt Harvey.