Workers' rights under threat, say unions
Mon, 22 Oct 2012 11:29a.m.
As most New Zealanders enjoy the Labour Day public holiday, unions are warning many workers' entitlements are under threat.
The Council of Trade Unions and First Union say that despite gains made since the first Labour Day, celebrated in 1890 and made a public holiday in 1900, the Government is trying to reduce the youth wage - to a minimum of $10.80 - and weaken the power of collective bargaining, generally carried out by unions on behalf of workers.
In 1890 several thousand trade union members and supporters attended parades in the main centres.
"Many gains have been made by workers since those early days," said CTU secretary Peter Conway.
"However, with 162,000 people unemployed, 110,000 seeking additional hours of work, and major attacks under way or in the pipeline on pay and conditions of work, there are many challenges that remain."
Mr Conway told NZ Newswire people were increasingly working on Labour Day but he was unaware of any moves to erode the day's status as a public holiday.
First union general secretary Robert Reid said the Government is expected to introduce legislation before Christmas that would weaken collective bargaining.
It's expected to include the removal of an obligation to complete negotiations and the provision of new workers to benefit from union-negotiated conditions for the first 30 days while they consider joining the union.
Mr Conway and Mr Reid said collective bargaining was an important tool in improving wages and working conditions.
"Unions are part of the solution to low pay and achieving a living wage, and any government genuinely committed to closing the wage gap with Australia would recognise this," Mr Reid said.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says more than 2600 collective contracts account for around 15 percent of the total employed labour force. NZN
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1/11/2012 11:08:08 a.m.
Don't need to "back up" my claims - just look at the number of Kiwis going overseas to get better pay/conditions/life-style.
Those facts speak for themselves.
Your facts Mike, are (putting it politely) inaccurate.
29/10/2012 4:43:04 p.m.
Come on TEDC, back up your claims.Where was NZ sitting in international terms for min wage when Labour took office back in 1999? They took the Sanlu approach to min wages and did nothing! So after 9 years of Labour the min wage had not really changed in international terms.When National took office in 2008 we were around 35th in the world for min wages. By 2011 this had improved to 9th, and with the world recession and crisis in the US/EU we have risen further to around 5th.We have closed the min wage gap in NZ through hard work driven by our exporters - hard work by our exporters - not union membership. 5.1% export growth in exports this last quarter during recession! Compare that to Labour boom years 2000-2005 where Labour only managed 5% export growth in 5 years - which didn't keep up with inflation! Unions talk about it being hard and losing jobs in uneconomic industry, but they wont get off their lazy backsides to make those same industries economic! That is the difference between unions and our other exporters. Our other exporters will do whatever it takes, including take a pay cut, to make it work, while unions will chose unemployment of their members over working with businesses - as they dont give a stuff about members jobs.Our wages too high already, so paying more wont fix the problem. We need to address the problem by making living costs lower. Food GST is not a major and we should leave GST alone. Housing we can lower costs by cutting back the red tape of the RMA - which I have mentioned for over a year. We need more homes built in Auckland in the low/mid price range which will lower the cost of living for low/mid income earners.
29/10/2012 11:10:37 a.m.
Extreme capitalists with their right wing political views are fundamentally opposed to the Trades Union movement because the unions seek to address excessive exploitation of ordinary working people (who produce the saleable products)by unethical businesses. They see union (and Labour Party) activity as a threat to profitability.
Mike for example doesn't comment constructively or sympathetically on the plight of the working poor, social injustice or inequality issues. All we see is vitriolic right-wing dogma.
28/10/2012 4:16:54 p.m.
Daniel Lang wrote:
I support a youth wage because there are so many young people on benefits.
26/10/2012 12:15:59 p.m.
The unions are asking for lower dollar, higher inflation - which will give lower real wages.There is nobody fighting more against living wages than the 'Head up their Backside', Unions!The unions could look to work together with business in the interests of jobs. This doesn't happen as unions prefer unemployment and redundancies for its members over any real attempt to work with business. Take the Solid Energy job losses. With lower coal prices the only way to keep the mine open is to lower costs, ie labour costs. The unions could have workers take a small pay cut and keep jobs. But a small pay cut was out of the possibilities as the union wanted massive wage losses to unemployed benefit levels over any chance of them actively working to save the jobs!
26/10/2012 10:42:02 a.m.
@ peter. The majority of NZers, that have moved to Aussie, is for mining.
The opportunities for mining in NZ are diminishing, because of the 'road-blocking' by the opposition parties such as the greens, ironically led by an Aussie ?!
23/10/2012 2:02:01 p.m.
Richard, want a bet employers will be screaming to the government n 5 years or less that NZs suffering a serious skill shortgage and their businesses are failing because of it. Because we have all buggered of to Australia. Kids getting a few bucks matter squat, because they wont be sticking around when they are in their mid tweenties. The government will have to ask Australia to introduce entry limit. =So much for global capitalism and the movenment of labour. If workers dont have money to spend its a downward slide to a new economic paradigm. The carbon economy.
23/10/2012 10:03:20 a.m.
Listen to the bleating of the unionists. Let me tell you something you probably wont want to hear because it doesn't sit well with your bias. The minimum wage stopped thousands of uni and school kids getting part time work to fund their studies. The newer lower rate gives them back that opportunity. I know kids who had to work for cash under the table as they could not be legally employed. Truth hurts I guess.
23/10/2012 9:21:26 a.m.
The NZ worker has all but been knee capped by the milk economy. Collective barganing is a farce in the higher education sector when wage rises are now effectively linked to inflation not production, and unions compete against each other to settle quickly. Living costs will be doubling every decade, especially with the rates in Auckland, I wont mention the power n water bills.Employers are sending a very clear message, if you have skills and want to get ahead dont stay in New Zealand.
22/10/2012 10:34:58 p.m.
why can't the politicians lead by example and bargain individually and have pay increases linked to productividy, but no they get collective pay rises no matter if the country is going backwards.
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