A survey out yesterday shows that the gap between New Zealand and Australia is set to widen in the coming year with 78% of Aussie firms planning on giving inflation or better wages increases this year, compared to just 55% here.
In fact, the gap has already grown since the Key Government took office. The total weekly pay packet to Kiwi workers fell by 0.4% in 2009 compared to 2008 after inflation*, and the increases that there were nearly all went to unionised workers who bargained for decent pay rises. In Aussie, the total pay packet for workers is up 2.5%**.
It’s going to get worse. While Aussie steams ahead we’ll be going backwards or treading water at best. Treasury thinks the country’s total wage packet will keep falling in inflation-adjusted terms and it won’t get back to its peak until 2012. And that’ll be shared among more workers than ever before.
So, where’s the plan to close the wage gap with Australia? To date, John Key and his gang have a perfect record in opposing all pay increases and they have done nothing to create jobs.
Key says he wants wages to catch up to Aussie’s. Well, it won’t happen while there are quarter of a million too few jobs to do around, that means employers can be picky and offer lower wages. NZIER gets it, writing in their latest Quarterly Update [not online] “intense competition for few jobs will restrain wage growth for some time.” Wage increases will come when unemployment drops, not before.
And if Key is really serious about getting the economy to grow faster his first order of business should be working out how not to waste day after day the skills and energy of 276,000 Kiwis who want to work but can’t get a job and 115,000 who want to work more hours than they can get.
The solution in both instances is a full employment policy. We’re getting nothing like it from this government that does nothing for Kiwis while offering favours to the elite.