‘Fair Pay’ team announced

The Government has set up over a hundred panels, working groups, reviews, committees and whatever esle they have called them. They refer to the latest as ‘a ‘Fair Pay Agreeement’ team.


Government’s Fair Pay Agreement work to begin

The Government’s work on establishing Fair Pay Agreements, helping design a collective bargaining system to lift wages and productivity in New Zealand, will be led by former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jim Bolger, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“The Government has a vision for a highly skilled and innovative economy that delivers good jobs, decent work conditions and fair wages, while supporting economic growth and productivity,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.

“The best way to create a high-wage economy is through productivity growth, and we must ensure that workers and businesses benefit from economic growth. While wages have generally grown in the top-two and bottom-two deciles, wages for middle New Zealand have not kept up and as a result feel squeezed by rising costs, particularly in housing.

“We can and must do better for middle New Zealanders. Fair Pay Agreements will establish a framework for employers and employees to work together constructively to lift wages and productivity.

“Workers and employers know their sector best. By working together through effective engagement and bargaining cooperatively, workers and employers can set standards that are relevant to their sector and support productivity and growth.

“The aim of FPAs is to prevent a race to the bottom, where some employers are undercut by others who reduce costs through low wages and poor conditions of employment.

“Through the team led by Jim Bolger, the Government intends to introduce legislation to allow employers and workers to create Fair Pay Agreements that set minimum employment terms and conditions for all workers in the industry or occupation covered by the agreement.

“Fair Pay Agreements will help lift wages and conditions and ensure good employers are not disadvantaged by paying reasonable, industry-standard wages.

“It is time to move toward new models of bargaining. It is time New Zealand adopts a sector-level approach that is common across the developed world.

“Mr Bolger will lead the team of ten to develop recommendations on the design of a Fair Pay Agreement system, which is due to report back by the end of the year, and we will work closely with businesses, organisations and workers to develop a new and enduring framework that is good for employers and workers,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

The team includes worker and business representatives, those with practical on-the-ground experience and experts in law, economics and bargaining systems.

Members of the Fair Pay Agreement team:

Rt Hon Jim Bolger – 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, former Minister of Labour

Dr Stephen Blumenfeld – Director, Centre for Labour, Employment and Work at Victoria University

Steph Dyhrberg – Partner, Dyhrberg Drayton Employment Law

Anthony Hargood – Chief Executive, Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union

Kirk Hope – Chief Executive, BusinessNZ

Vicki Lee – Chief Executive, Hospitality NZ

Caroline Mareko – Senior Manager, Communities and Participation, He Whānau Manaaki o Tararua Free Kindergarten Association

John Ryall – Assistant National Secretary, E tū

Dr Isabelle Sin – Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington

Richard Wagstaff – President, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

The terms of reference are available at MBIE’s website.

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.