New Zealand’s recently signed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union threatens to derail the coalition Government’s aspirations to remove the Fair Pay Agreements by Christmas, said the NZ Council of Trade Unions
NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff said, “The Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the European Union contained a chapter setting out protections for workers – the Trade and Sustainable Development chapter. Sections of that agreement would be contravened if the Fair Pay Agreement Bill went ahead in their current format.”
“Specifically, the FTA requires that neither side will ‘weaken or reduce the levels of protection afforded in its environmental or labour law in order to encourage trade or investment’.
“Yet this is precisely the reason given by the government for its determination to remove Fair Agreements. Indeed, the Cabinet Paper states that FPA removal is crucial for business investment”
“Other sections of the FTA are also in doubt, as removing FPAs would also imperil the ability to deliver decent working conditions, and the requirement to cooperate with the EU on core labour standards.
“Should New Zealand repeal FPAs, it would be acting in a manner contrary to the provisions of the agreement. This would severely diminish the country’s strong reputation for upholding our international agreements.”
“The Government has acted too hastily in wanting to remove Fair Pay Agreements for hundreds of thousands of workers around New Zealand. In doing so it has overlooked the impact that it will have on our trading agreements.
“Rather than acting with reckless speed, the Government should actually consult with unions, businesses, and with our international partners on any changes. Now is the time for considered analysis, not ideological attacks on workers core rights.”