Labour’s workplace policy

Labour announced their workplace relations policy today.A modest increase in the minimum wage and the retention of trial periods (with some modifications) are included.

Key points:

• Increasing the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour.

This is currently 15.75 so it isn’t a big increase.

• Replacing the current National Government’s ‘fire at will’ law with fair trial periods that provide both protection against unjustified dismissal and a simple, fair, and fast referee service.

• Introducing Fair Pay Agreements that set fair, basic employment conditions across an industry based on the employment standards that apply in that industry.

• Promoting the Living Wage by paying it to all workers in the core public service, and extending it to contractors over time.

• Doubling the number of Labour Inspectors.

Backing fair pay and conditions:

Working for fair pay

Labour will boost the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour and base future increases on the real cost of living for people on low incomes. Over time, we will work towards lifting the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage as economic conditions allow.

Labour is committed to being a good employer in government. All core public sector employees will be paid at least the Living Wage, at a cost of $15m, and this will be extended to contractors over time. Labour will also double the number of Labour Inspectors to 110 to help ensure working people’s rights are protected. This will cost $9m.


Fair trial periods

Labour has always supported trial periods for new employees, as a way of giving a person a chance. National’s ‘fire at will’ law is unfair because it denies employees any recourse against unfair treatment and unjustified dismissal. This means an employer can sack an employee without a fair reason, denying that person and their family a livelihood. Treasury has found ‘fire at will’ has created no jobs and not increased hiring of disadvantaged jobseekers. Instead, it has allowed some bad employers to exploit employees.

Labour will replace the existing law with trial periods that include recourse for employees in the event of unjustified dismissal. Employers, particularly small businesses, have legitimate concerns that resolving employment disputes can be time-consuming and expensive. So Labour will establish a new referee service for claims of unjustified dismissal during trial periods. The referee will hold short hearings without lawyers and be able to make decisions to reinstate or award damages of up to a capped amount. This simple, fast, and fair service will be provided free for the parties involved, at a cost to the Government of $4m.


Fair Pay Agreements

Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) will be agreed by businesses within an industry and the unions representing workers within that industry. FPAs will set basic standards for pay and other employment conditions within an industry, according to factors including job type and experience. The recent care and support workers’ settlement is an example of how employers, employees, and government can come together to create an agreement that sets base conditions across an industry.

By setting a floor, FPAs will prevent the ‘race to the bottom’ seen in some industries, where good employers are undercut by some bad employers who reduce labour costs through low wages and poor conditions. FPAs will create a framework for fair wage increases where good employers are not commercially disadvantaged for doing the right thing.

FPAs will cover all employees and workplaces within the relevant industry. Negotiations on FPAs will begin once a sufficient percentage of employers or employees within an industry call for one. This threshold and the precise implementation of FPAs will be developed in government in consultation with all stakeholders.

See the manifesto chapter for a full list of initiatives.

36 Comments

  1. If you want to see how good it is: https://thestandard.org.nz/labours-new-employment-relations-package/

    Actually not surprisingly the small increase in the minimum wage gets an airing.

  2. ” Doubling the number of Labour Inspectors.” Outdoing the last Labour’s 40% increase in pen pushing public servants. One huge reason never to vote for them. ( do I sound like blazer right rinsed?😄)

  3. artcroft

     /  June 29, 2017

    I imagine the referees will all be unionist and it’ll be cheaper just to pay out bad employees out rather than try Labour’s one eyed adjudicators.

    • Corky

       /  June 29, 2017

      It’s a loaded gun and an off centre bullseye, Arty. The bullseye is of course off centre to the left.

  4. Gezza

     /  June 29, 2017

    The recent care and support workers’ settlement is an example of how employers, employees, and government can come together to create an agreement that sets base conditions across an industry.

    Yes. It’s costing ma, whose only income is National Superannuation, plus a small amount of bank interest on a solid 40 years of hard work & savings, a sudden 10% increase in the cost of keeping dementia-ridden dad properly cared for in a contracted Rest Home & Hospital.

    • patupaiarehe

       /  June 29, 2017

      That isn’t fair on ‘Ma’ at all G. But consider the ‘other side of the coin’. If you didn’t own your home mortgage free, could you survive on $16.50/hr?

      • Gezza

         /  June 29, 2017

        Nope. And there’s the rub. The fact we have a too-low wage economy is evidenced by the scale of transfer payments to so many medium to low income earner that the fiercely well-to-do righties here keep railing about – their necessarily having to be the primary source of the government’s funds to dispense via the Family Tax Credit mechanism to ensure a semi- reasonable standard of living for as many asposdible of those those lesser mortals not gifted with their particular set of circumstances, skills, abilities, legacies & suchlike.

        But it also needs to be balanced against the ability of some employers to pay higher rates & remain viable as both businesses and employers.

        • Gezza

           /  June 29, 2017

          Fk. I hate proof-reading on this FiP! With the on-screen keyboard up it’s so blimmin hard to pick up cock-ups on the less than half a screen left available for reading one’s draft comments.

          • Join the tablet club mate. I’m fully embracing typonese. I understand you. Nobody cares.

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Easy for you to say. You aren’t anywhere near my apparent degree of fluency in Typonese.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 29, 2017

              I really don’t understand why you guys use tablets, or phones. Call me old fashioned, but my keyboard serves me well…. 😛

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Yaw trubble is yaw old fashioned. And what service could a keyboard possibly provide to yaw well? Be no more use to yaw well than would constantly spamming Forums with snarky tweets full of redundant elipses be, I would’ve thought? 😕

        • patupaiarehe

           /  June 29, 2017

          Don’t diss the ‘transfer payments’, G. With the number of kids I have, they work in my favour. Consider them an investment in future taxpayers…

          But it also needs to be balanced against the ability of some employers to pay higher rates & remain viable as both businesses and employers.

          If an employer pays higher than average rates, they attract & retain good people. People who ‘earn their keep’…

          • Gezza

             /  June 29, 2017

            I did not diss the transfer payments patu. I referred to those well-off individuals who do diss them. My comment explained why they are needed – wages are too low.

            While you are undoubtedly correct that employers who pay higher than average wages should expect to attract & retain good people who earn their keep (& presumably the keep of their planned or unplanned offspring whom they take responsibility for caring for & bringing up) – I believe there is also a genuine problem with getting some people off their arses of a cold morning & down to a local workplace or work site to actually do so, good wages or not.

            So, how to incentivise those people to do so is still problematic, & and in many cases education & skills development – as well as some stable parent-figure(s) who can teach them personal responsibility, community responsibility, & self-reliance, seem to be what’s most needed.

            I am looking for the Party doing most in that area.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 29, 2017

              The only way to increase real wages is to decrease real costs and waste thereby increasing efficiency. Unfortunately Government regulatory and economic interventions are almost always in the opposite direction.

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Getting rid of a few rapavious bloodsucking CEO’s & Executives & sharing the wealth of the company mightn’t be a bad idea. Taken to its extremes the formula you advocate often leads to low-paid employment, or closures, & we’re back to transfer payments.

            • PDB

               /  June 29, 2017

              Cause and effect – artificially raise wages and costs must also go up for no net gain overall.

              The minimum wage if continually raised reaches a tipping point at some stage when business (especially small businesses that make up the bulk of NZ businesses) reduce hours and/or reduce people and again the worker loses out and end up with less pay overall. Larger companies also turn to more automation.

              The minimum wage is a starting wage, especially for school leavers and others joining the workforce – it’s a minimum wage not a maximum wage.

              Simple economics that Blazer could almost grasp.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 29, 2017

              Getting rid of incompetent CEO’s, Directors and management would almost certainly yield far better results. Greater efficiency and productivity releases resources for other purposes – labour included. Redeploying them productively is the job for markets and private sector skills.

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Simple economics that Blazer could almost grasp.

              Economics might be simple – although clearly *economics* is not or there would be no need for so many economists & competing economic theories & models – but governing a country well is not just about economics.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 29, 2017

              I believe there is also a genuine problem with getting some people off their arses of a cold morning & down to a local workplace or work site to actually do so, good wages or not.

              You’ve ‘hit the nail on the head’ with that comment G. Kiwis complain about foreigners ‘stealing their jobs’, but the Kiwis are the ones who are robbing themselves. I have two Indian men working for me. They both turn up on time, every day, and will work any overtime offered to them. And neither of them ever turn up ‘hungover’. Both have a level of competence, about on par with a second year Kiwi apprentice.
              I also have four Kiwi tradesmen working for me. Between the four of them, they do the work of three tradesmen every week, due to only 3 of them turning up, on any particular weekday. They are all well aware, that their skills are in short supply. Which is why, on any given Friday, only two of them bother showing up! 😀

            • PDB

               /  June 29, 2017

              G: “but governing a country well is not just about economics”

              Labour want to run the country by ignoring basic economics – good luck with that.

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Quite possibly. They won’t be getting my party vote with their current leader & spokesperson lineup.

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Have to say, with the current crop of National Ministers, & the frankly sometimes quite odd selection of other chaps & chappesses up on offer on the tickets from the other parties, I couldn’t entirely rule out giving my Party tick to the Conservatives as a sympathy vote. For fairly obvious reasons.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 29, 2017

              You might as well give your ‘tick’ to TOP, G. Gareth Morgan is this election’s Colin Craig….

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              Gareth would have me impoverished & busking in the streets to pay the rates.

              Besides, Colin continues to resolutely do his absolute utmost to try & ensure the Conservatives get as much sympathy as they can possibly deserve!

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 29, 2017

              Not trying to ‘piss in your pocket’ G, but I don’t imagine you’d be ‘impoverished’, or struggle to pay the rates, if you started ‘busking’… 😉

            • Gezza

               /  June 29, 2017

              My biggest problem could be being hissed & spat at by a passing stoat.

            • patupaiarehe

               /  June 29, 2017

              Don’t concern yourself with stoats or smelly thumbs, G. They are found here far more frequently than in the real world….

            • Gezza

               /  June 30, 2017

              Good advice. I shall do my best to remain supremely indifferent to the presence of the stoat if it stops the hissing & spitting.

  5. Gezza

     /  June 29, 2017

    Fk! Again! * rapavious = rapacious

    • Gezza

       /  June 29, 2017

      Fk! x 3. * wrong place – see above!

    • Pete Kane

       /  June 30, 2017

      Again, speaking off which, I see Mr Jones is back G. If I were the Nat guy, and he interjected at a candidates meeting, and he will, I would simply ask, how is old Linda Lovelace these days? Risky move Winnie.

      • Gezza

         /  June 30, 2017

        He likes free stuff paid for by somebody else, especially taxpayers, does The Joneser.
        Free to view included. Racy stuff.

        Winnie was Minister of Racing wasn’t he? If I was Winston, I’d be very careful about promising to let The Joneser have some of his baubles.

  6. FPA’s – is old Tom Skinner from the F.O.L still alive? He was a master at negotiating those national wage awards back in the 70’s…..

    • Long gone. An awesome guy

    • Conspiratoor

       /  June 29, 2017

      Frank Barnard reduced me to a quivering wreck on many occasions. I think he warmed to me towards the end though. Trevor Kelly was a saint by comparison. Frank never honoured an agreement he didn’t make or made an agreement he couldn’t honour.