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The Amalgamated Workers Union Calls On The Government To Give Fair Pay Agreements A Fair Go

“The new government has a clear choice to make before Christmas. Do they live up to their stated intention of governing for all New Zealanders, or do they dash the hopes of tens of thousands of kiwi workers by unilaterally abolishing Fair Pay Agreements under Urgency with no consultation or process?”, says Lindsay Chappell.

“Fair Pay Agreements were set up to give some of the lowest paid workers in New Zealand a fair go for their hard work. Workers like cleaners, supermarket staff, and bus drivers were praised during Covid for keeping the country going, but often have the lowest pay, poorest conditions, and least secure work. Fair Pay Agreements are about ensuring their work is recognised” Says Lindsay who is AWUNZ advocate for a fair pay agreement aimed at lifting conditions and reducing the shortages of bus drivers.

“The Governor Generals speech to parliament outlining the new governments agenda talked about the importance of work. We agree. An important part of making work meaningful and attractive is fair pay and conditions for kiwi workers and ending the ‘race to the bottom’ that has held down wages for workers like bus drivers. Successive Australian governments of both political stripes have recognised this by establishing minimum standards across industries, which is what FPAs achieve”

“It is especially concerning that the government has signalled they may abolish FPAs with no parliamentary process and select committee scrutiny. The previous government had a mandate to introduce FPAs but still ran a full select committee process to hear the views of New Zealanders on the change. FPAs are now established in the law and many employers and unions are involved in the FPA process. It would be a significant breach of process for the government to abolish a major part of our employment relations framework through urgency, with no public input, before Christmas”

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“Our members, including thousands of bus drivers who keep our cities moving and are in bargaining for an FPA, are deeply concerned. We call on the government to run a proper select committee process so that the views of kiwi workers, and all of the evidence can be heard before the government makes this major change. They will still have a parliamentary majority to proceed as they wish at the end of such a process, so why not allow New Zealanders to have a say?”

“MBIE analysis under the last government showed economic benefits to both employers and employees through coordinated bargaining and sector wide conditions. Cabinet papers show this government has been advised that repealing fair pay agreements will hurt lower paid workers. We believe it is incumbent on the incoming government to present their case for any changes and allow public input. This should be a decision made on merit not ideology”

“In particular we call on New Zealand First to exercise its balancing role here. Abusing Urgency to make such a massive change in the first few weeks of the new government would mark out the government as one driven by extreme ideology rather than good process and fairness. Our members are willing to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister about this so that he can hear the views of working people. We would value this discussion and encourage him to accept our invitation, rather than passively accepting the ACT party’s extreme agenda and a grave breach of good process”

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