Fair Pay Agreements are in the news this week as the CTU calls for progress on this, and media commentaries suggest that there is a developing rift between Labour and unions.
Fair Pay Agreements as Labour Party policy have been fought for by Affiliated Labour Unions since 2014. Originally called Industry Standard Agreements, and driven by Helen Kelly, there was comprehensive policy adopted by the Labour Policy.
Helen Kelly often made the case by comparing the situation of a Four-Square worker in Kaitaia and how difficult it was for her to join a union and become part of collective bargaining under our current (despite amendments) employment legislation.
Since then, there has been a Working Group report led by the former PM Hon Jim Bolger, who has reflected and quite bravely owned up to the impact of the policies his government introduced in the 1990’s with the Employment Contracts Act.
The case was well made out in the Working Group’s report and has been repeated elsewhere, even in the OECD and IMF who have noted that New Zealand has one of the lowest level of collective bargaining in the OECD.
Today a Discussion Paper has been released. It recognises that wages need to be lifted and the economic system is failing workers ; and that Fair Pay Agreements will help fix this.
Predictably, the Business Sector has continuously opposed the idea of improving standards in industries for those who are most likely not to have collective agreements or be able to join unions. They continue to maintain that any improvements that will increase the share of the labour workers provide workers have are “1970s or 1980s.”
The media are of playing this up as a loss for the Labour Party and a rift with Unions. Of course, unions are disappointed that this flagship policy appears to have stalled. Reading between the lines there are two things : first is the Coalition votes and the second is Business Confidence reaction, which gets more headlines than the reality for many workers.
Unions will never give up. We union fighters know it sometimes takes years for unions win, but we do and we have. Think four weeks annual leave, paid parental leave, health and safety, minimum wage.
Fair Pay Agreements are an essential part of a fair economy. It’s just not good enough to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that everyone is better off. They’re not.
The CTU has now launched this campaign to ensure working people's voices are heard in the consultation around the design of Fair Pay Agreements, and to ensure the coalition government gets on with it.
The Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Bill was last week passed into law in the name of Labour MP Kieran McAnulty with support from Labour, Greens & NZ First. This was a members’ Bill originally drafted by MWU Organising Director Darien Fenton when she was a Labour MP. The final Bill gives the right of workers who are employed by one company, but assigned to another to extend any personal grievance claims to both the controlling company (ie the company they are employed by) and the company that they are sent to work in.Read more
The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has released an independent report conducted by economic research company BERL into the validity of sector bargaining.
And the findings are clear - there is no economic reason not to implement sector bargaining but many social and individual wellbeing reasons to do so.Read more
The Government is making it easier to pay the right amount of tax when you work more than one job. Now, when IRD collects tax they will check you are paying the right amount. If something needs to change they will contact you. They might give you a new tax code or suggest you apply for a Tailored Tax Code to change the amount of tax you pay.
You can also contact IRD on 0800 775 247yourself to check your tax code or ask for a Tailored Tax Code.
Even if you have not got a new tax code, if you have paid too much tax during the year, the IRD will now automatically refund it into your bank account after the end of the year (so make sure your bank account details are up to date). If you have not paid enough tax at the end of the year, IRD will automatically let you know and tell you how long you have to pay what you owe.Read more