Guest article: Prime Minister Chris Hipkins

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins with E tū members at the NZCTU Government Forum earlier this year

A lot to be proud of and much more to do

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins

I joined the Labour Party because my values are much more about ‘we’ than about ‘I’ or ‘me’. I believe in opportunities. I want everyone in New Zealand to have the opportunity to fulfil their full potential. I believe everyone should be able to create a better life for themselves and their family through hard work.

The Labour Party and union movements share this kaupapa, and the fight for safe and fair work conditions is a fight that we both share.

Listening to the voice of unions has helped us here in Parliament to better understand the needs of working New Zealanders. E tū plays a vital role in this, representing thousands of workers, spanning many occupations across Aotearoa, and advocating for their rights.

Together, over the past five and a half years we’ve worked hard to progress many changes that have improved working conditions for New Zealanders.

We’ve taken huge steps forward in leave entitlements – enacting paid family violence leave and paid bereavement leave for miscarriages, extending Paid Parental Leave and doubling minimum sick leave entitlements.

We’ve delivered on our election promise to back New Zealand workers with Fair Pay Agreements, with the first applications to initiate bargaining now being submitted and approved – including the recent approval of a Fair Pay Agreement for cleaners and security guards.

We’re progressing pay equity through the Equal Pay Amendment Act, and we have secured the Living Wage for all employees of core government agencies and contracted cleaners, caterers and security guards. More than 120,000 New Zealanders have received a pay increase as part of a pay equity adjustment so far.

There’s a lot to be proud of, but of course there is much more to do.

My Government is working towards a high-wage economy where workers get their fair share and hard work pays off. We’re creating a country that invests in skills and our workforce for the future, and one that will continue to put people first.

At the moment, this means we’ve had to refocus, to put the cost of living front and centre. We’re taking hard decisions because we know Kiwis are also making some tough calls as global inflation continues to put pressure on household budgets.

That doesn’t mean this mahi stops here. I’m proud to be part of a Government that’s lifting wages and improving working conditions for New Zealanders.

It will take a collective effort to transform our workplaces and ensure that everyone has equal opportunities to participate in a strong economy. There’s a lot at stake this election year, but we have made progress, and together we will continue to make progress.