Editorial – E tū shines amongst the business gloom

John Ryall, Assistant National Secretary

One of the main focal points in the media recently has been the surveys of business confidence.

Every time a Labour Government is elected the owners of capital are outraged and take a form of strike action through the business confidence surveys.

They hope that getting the media to highlight these surveys will shake the confidence of a Labour Government and stop it from raising the minimum wage, legislating for greater worker rights and other measures that would force a greater distribution of New Zealand’s wealth.

Westpac Bank CEO David McLean has described this attitude from businesses as a “self-fulfilling spiral of doom and gloom.”

More important to E tū are the surveys we have done of our members that show worker confidence is at an all-time high, and that is for a very good reason.

The Government is lifting the minimum wage by about 25% over its first term and this is flowing on to our members in the low-paid service sector as the union pushes to retain the margins above the minimum wage in collective agreements.

The Government has introduced the Living Wage of $20.55 for all workers in the core public service and a growing number of local councils are doing the same.

With the recent mental health support workers’ pay equity settlement, most of our care and support members are on pay rates from $21.00 to $24.50 an hour.

The Government is intent on passing employment legislation to recognise the rights of elected workplace delegates, to make it mandatory for employers to give out union material to new workers, to include wage rates in collective agreements, and to have a provision that requires parties to conclude collective bargaining.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is an E tū member, recently announced that all members of parliament would have a 12 month pay freeze and State Services Minister Chris Hipkins also announced that state sector chief executiveswould no longer get performance bonuses and some would have their salaries reduced when they came up for review.

We know that some die-hard owners of capital are outraged by these actions, but others are not.


Software accounting company Xero says its data shows that small businesses are booming and former ANZ economist, and now consultant, Darren Linton says that his surveys showed that seven out of 10 New Zealand businesses were either on track to achieve their financial targets or were due to exceed these targets.

Rob Campbell, who is chair of Sky City Casino and retirement group, Summerset, welcomed the shifts in the lowest rates of pay and the equal pay settlements. He warned his fellow employers that they had a social licence to operate in this country but when they conducted business with excessive greed or insensitivity they could easily lose their social legitimacy.

E tū will not be put off by the negative Business NZ campaign against this Government and its policies. The Government’s strategy is to create prosperity and in the end, that is good for everyone.

E tū is engaging on many fronts with Government ministers and employers, who want to improve the rights of members and grow the New Zealand economy.

We are represented on the Government’s Fair Pay Agreements Working Party, the Future of Work Governance Group and the Living Wage Consultative Forum.

Now is our time! Let’s do this!