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New Zealand: Labour Party Launches Work and Wages Policy
Source: nzherald
Source Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs, Knowledge Management in Government, Citizen Engagement, Institution and HR Management
Country: New Zealand
Created: Oct 25, 2011

The Labour Party wants minimum pay and work conditions to apply across certain sectors in order to scratch out anomalies, such as workers being paid different rates for the same job. Party leader Phil Goff and labour issues spokeswoman Darien Fenton launched the party's work and wages - previously called employment relations - in Hamilton today. The centre-piece of the policy is the establishment of an independent Workplace Commission within a year to set up industry standard agreements, where appropriate. The standards would apply as a statutory minimum across the entire industry, regardless of individual contracts or whether the workers were part of a union. "The commission would determine the 'norm' of the standards already applying in collective agreements in a particular industry and extend those to all workplaces in the industry where there is no collective agreement," Ms Fenton.

 

Small businesses may be excluded, such as grocery store workers if there was a standard across supermarkets. "The commission would be able to take the potential impact on small businesses and employment into account during its deliberations," she said. "This is not about a return to central wage fixing, or compulsory unionism. Workers will not have to join a union to be part of an Industry Standard Agreement, but unions will have access to workers in the industry to talk about the standards, as they do now." But it would be an opportunity for unions to raise their profile and boost membership. The model was used widely, including in Australia, she said.

 

Labour would also:

# Repeal the 90-day trial period for new workers

# Repeal the change to the law around film workers that was made during the furore around the Hobbit films

# Lift the minimum wage to $15 an hour

# Ensure public holidays that fall on weekends are carried forward to Monday

# Restore reinstatement as the primary remedy when an employee has been unjustifiably dismissed.

 

Unions welcomed the policy announcement of industry standards. "There are many industries that differ hugely in the wages paid to their workers, for the same work," said FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid. "The food retail industry is a classic example. Retail workers at Countdown, where there are greater numbers of workers bargaining collectively, are paid much more than those at Foodstuffs' Pak'nSave and New World supermarkets, where more workers are on individual agreements." He said the policy would prevent employers from undercutting agreed industry standards. Service and Food Workers Union national secretary John Ryall said workers in aged care that do the same job should get the same pay. "We have a member doing exactly the same work for one aged care employer, employed on a collective earning $2 more than in her other job where she is employed on a worksite with no collective and paid close to the minimum wage."

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