Proposed ‘Fair Pay Agreements’

The new Government is proposing Fair Pay Agreements that will not allow industry wide strikes but will be decided by arbitration if the parties (employers and unions) can’t agree.

NZH: Industry-wide strikes impossible under Fair Pay Agreements

The Government is giving assurances that industry-wide strikes will not be possible under its proposed Fair Pay Agreements, which would set minimum standards across entire industries.

The agreements represent a major change to the workplace and have been hailed by unions, but criticised by the National Party as taking industrial relations back to the 1970s.

Discussions on Fair Pay Agreements will include unions and businesses, with legislation being introduced within 12 months as part of other changes, including:

• double the number of labour inspectors to 110 (cost of $9m)

• abolish youth rates

• look at ensuring proper pay for those who work over 40 hours a week

• look at improving job security for casual and seasonal workers

There’s some fairly contentious things in that.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has assured businesses that the agreements – which could include pay rates, weekend rates, hours per week – would not allow workers to have industry-wide strikes.

“Business NZ was very concerned about industry-wide strike action, so there will be no mechanism for striking if you’re pursuing a Fair Pay Agreement.

“The flipside is that if the parties can’t agree, there will need to be some form of arbitration to make a final decision.”

So ‘some form of arbitration’ could be used to make ‘a final decision’ on ‘proper pay rates’ and job security.

Pay rates and job conditions could be imposed industry-wide.

I think more detail is required to see how radical this could be.

Lees-Galloway has a union background – prior to becoming an MP he worked for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation as an organiser and later as a publicity coordinator.

I presume that NZ First will be bound by joint Cabinet responsibility to support any changes to labour laws.

Being outside Cabinet Greens won’t, but this sounds like the sort of thing they might support anyway.