National Government cancelling Fair Pay Agreements will increase inequality

E tū, the biggest private sector union in Aotearoa New Zealand, says the new National-led Government’s 100-day plan announcement that they will repeal the legislation for Fair Pay Agreements is a giant step backwards.

Fair Pay Agreements were set up under the previous Government as a mechanism for sector-wide collective bargaining, establishing new minimum pay and conditions that would apply to every covered worker. The law provides full democratic participation from both workers and employers and is similar to sector-wide bargaining processes used around the world, such as Australia’s modern awards.

Security guard Rosey Ngakopu, who has been a key member leader in E tū’s campaign for Fair Pay Agreements, is hugely disappointed.

“It just feels like a slap in the face, it’s completely disrespectful and stupid to cancel our Fair Pay Agreements,” Rosey says.

“Us security guards and our brothers and sisters in cleaning really need improvement in our industries. That’s what Fair Pay Agreements are all about. We need better wages, we need better job protection, and we need proper health and safety. They’ve taken it all away.”

“That’s just the National Party for you though, that’s what they do. Whatever we are able to win, they’ll just rip it away.”

E tū National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says the decision will mean workers who have initiated Fair Pay Agreements are missing out on a huge opportunity.

“Fair Pay Agreements were the best improvement to employment law in decades,” Rachel says.

“The mechanism was carefully developed to give workers a real chance at finally winning better pay and conditions. E tū members in cleaning and security have long faced a working life of low wages and inadequate conditions, especially relating to key issues like health and safety, job security, and opportunities for career progression.

“We know that low wages are the key driver of inequality, and workers in industries like cleaning and security suffer the consequences. By removing Fair Pay Agreements before the first ones have even been negotiated, the Government is attacking the most vulnerable people in Aotearoa’s workforce.”

Rachel says this is a poor start for the new Government.

“This decision adds to many more that demonstrate the Government’s backwards priorities. They have announced the return of 90-day trials for all, despite evidence they threaten job security without any meaningful benefit to business or job opportunities.

Further, Rachel says the proposal to remove peoples’ rights to challenge their employment status as contractors in the Employment Court will lock in exploitation and severely constrain the access to justice that is fundamental to our democracy.

“E tū is also deeply concerned about National’s attack on working people on a range of fronts, including through its tax policy. It is galling that this government will remove our world-leading smokefree initiative to help pay for tax cuts for landlords and those already well-off.”