Workers are certainly concerned about wages, Minister

Tuesday, 29 September 2015, 2:17 pm
Press Release: NZCTU

The government may not be concerned about workers not getting a fair share, but workers themselves certainly are, the Council of Trade Unions said today.

Finance Minister Bill English was today reported as being unconcerned about a Westpac McDermott Miller employment confidence survey  that showed the proportion of respondents expecting a wage increase over the coming year is at its lowest level since the survey began in 2004.

“If the state of wages in New Zealand was acceptable, we wouldn’t have seen the need for the Living Wage movement, which is mobilising communities in support of pay rates that allow people to fully participate in society,” CTU secretary Sam Huggard said.

“If pay and job security was okay, we wouldn’t have seen a significant campaign earlier this year in fast food to get rid of zero hours contracts and to provide more reliable work in the major chains.”

“And if women weren’t being discriminated against on the basis of gender, we wouldn’t be seeing growing momentum around the push for equal pay, including an historic court case about the underpayment of workers in aged care.”

“The government can ill afford to be complacent about pay in New Zealand.  Is this as good as it gets?  Workers have seen little from the so-called recovery translating into wage rises, and now the economy is losing steam.”

 “There is plenty more the government could be doing, both as an employer of public sector workers who are due a catch up, and also in helping to lift wages in the private sector, by lifting the minimum wage, fixing migration so that it’s not used to hold wages down, and stopping putting more and more barriers in the way of collective bargaining,” Sam Huggard said.


For further comment:

Sam Huggard, CTU Secretary, on 021 462 148.

CTU Secretary Sam Huggard


Tuesday, 29 September 2015, 2:17 pm
Press Release: NZCTU

GUEST BLOG: Tony Stevens – 90-day trials

Reprinted from The Daily Blog

The 90-day trial is infamous among workers and prized by employers but remains misunderstood by most and often mishandled.

The trial period gives employers the power to sack workers without the burden of justification, or the risk of an employee kicking up a legal stink.


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OIA on Zero Hours reveals just what an attack on workers it is.

By Helen Kelly, President, NZ Council of Trade Unions

Reprinted from The Standard

We have the documents leading up to the what can only be described as a dreadful piece of law legalising employment agreements which tie workers to an employer without any of the reciprocity of guaranteed hours of work.

It all started with the spectacular Unite campaign against “zero hour” contracts in fast food. These 24/7 businesses employ thousands of workers, make loads of money from their efforts but were exploiting shite employment law to engage workers on contracts that forced them to be available any time day and night, but without any guaranteed hours.


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Benefit cuts designed to help cut wages as well

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

This is the second of a series of articles based on a speech to a conference sponsored by the Child Poverty Action Group looking at work and welfare in the 21st century. (Part 1)


Since the early 1990s, benefit levels have been slashed in real terms.
The governments of the day were motivated to save money to give in tax cuts to their rich mates.
But they also made it clear they wanted to lower real wages.
That is why they destroyed collective bargaining and union representation for most workers.
But to cut real wages the employer thinks he needs the gap to grow between wages and welfare payments. You have to make living on a benefit as miserable as possible.


Unite Union stop work meeting Feb, 2006. Low benefits designed to maintain a system based on low pay. 

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Casualised labour market a product of anti-working class assault by ruling rich

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

This is the first of a series of articles based on a speech to a conference sponsored by the Child Poverty Action Group looking at work and welfare in the 21st century.

Over the last three to four decades there has been a huge expansion of casualised work across the globe.

A recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) report found that only one in four workers had a stable job.

“The rise in informal employment, undeclared and temporary work arrangements, as well as involuntary part-time work, has contributed to the widening of income inequalities, which have been recorded in the majority of countries” noted Guy Ryder ILO director General.

Unite Union campaign against zero hours part of fight against casualisation of labour


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NZ Labour Letter September 2015

National Labour News

New Zealand Education Institute, the country's largest education worker union, announced it will sue the government on behalf of education support workers over gender discrimination. “The Government has been ignoring this human rights issue for far too long and we will now pursue our case through the courts,” said NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter. NZEI said that more than six years ago, an independent job evaluation report by the Pay Equity Commission showed that when compared with the male dominated job of corrections officer, education support workers employed by the Ministry of Education were paid as much as $8 an hour less. According to the union, the incoming government “sidelined the report,” saying the pay issue would be dealt with through bargaining rounds. “There has been no real movement, and in fact what we’re seeing across the workforce in New Zealand is growing inequity and female-dominated workforces are suffering the most,” Goulter said. The teachers’ union suit follows court action by the College of Midwives which is suing the government for paying its members less because it was a predominantly female industry.


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US Labor Day 2015: Uniting labor, climate, and racial justice movements our best hope for better future

The following column was co-written by leaders in the climate justice and union movement in the US.  The writer address many important issues facing working people across the globe. The authors are: Aaron Mair, Sierra Club president; Estela Vazquez, 1199 Service Employees International Union executive vice president; and Lenore Friedlaender, assistant to the president of 32BJ SEIU.

This Labor Day, we are joining together to celebrate the contributions of workers of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities to the struggle to hold our country true to the promise of a political and economic democracy, "with liberty and justice for all."

We recognize that the movement for a truly just society is much stronger when we join forces.  The same interests who stand in the way of workers' struggles for economic justice are standing in the way of environmental justice and a clean energy economy, and they are standing in the way of racial and immigrant justice.

People's Climate March in NYC on Sept. 21, 2014.
People's Climate March in NYC on Sept. 21, 2014.

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Affco Talley's Wairoa worker's protest

Freezing worker's protest on Wairoa bridge. Video: Warren Buckland Hawke's Bay Today. 
Please wait while the video loads....


Peoples Power starts to assert our basic humanity in refugee crisis

By Mike Treen, Unite National Director

Reprinted from The Daily Blog

A powerful campaign has erupted in NZ to ask the government to at least double the current pitifully low level of 750 refugees being accepted each year. The quota hasn’t increased since 1987. This places us at 90th on the UN list for per capita acceptance of refugees. Even Australia accepts 13,750 as its quota which is one per 1700 compared to our one per 6000! Australian politicians however still treat refugees as political football and try to outbid each other in how harshly they can treat them. The creation of concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea was the inevitable consequence. 


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GUEST BLOG: Tony Stevens – Employment rights – death by a thousand cuts

By Tony Stevens

Reprinted from The Daily Blog

Apparently working as a mini golf operator or a cat breeder are more dangerous jobs than a dairy or cattle farmer. Well sure, that makes sense. I mean you could take a stray putt to the shins when inspecting hole 8 for water logging, or maybe Felix the one-eyed tabby takes a swipe at your ankle when you try to check him for fleas. Sounds positively life threatening.

Under the new health and safety law wrangling cats and putters are considered more risky than working with 1 tonne plus livestock. Ridiculous. Dairy and cattle farming is one of if not the deadliest industries in New Zealand, claiming a life nearly every three weeks. You won’t find mini-golf death statistics online – I’ve tried. I daresay the government will come to their senses and make the necessary adjustments but this, combined with the exemption on small businesses to have elected health and safety reps, paints a pretty bleak picture for our new workplace safety rules.


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