Right now, spurred on by the hypocritical words of Bill English and John Key, employers in the public and private sectors are saying they can only offer a 0% pay increase this year – and many are trying to cut conditions like redundancy and overtime.
0% is a pay cut. The cost of living went up 1.9% last year. If your wages don’t go up that much, you’re going backwards.
What you’ve got to ask yourself is ‘am I worth less than I was last year?’
I bet few of you answered ‘yes’. Most of us are probably more productive for each hour worked than we were last year. So why should we be paid less?
Don’t fall for the ‘we’re in the middle of a recession’ bollocks. You’re producing as much wealth as you were last year, probably more, therefore, you have the right to at least as much pay in real terms. Anyway, I keep hearing the recession is over already so they can’t keep trying to use that excuse to hold us down.
It’s not like asking for a cost of living adjustment is going to break the bank. The companies’ and the government’s revenues go up with inflation, why shouldn’t your wages?
Besides, as long as Bill English is allowed to stuff his pockets with allowances worth the the same as a typical workers’ total income, which he isn’t even eligible for, I don’t see why we shouldn’t get a basic cost of living adjustment. It’s only fair.
The good news is that the unions are winning at least cost of living adjustments. The Police Association just won 2% in arbitration (that is, a court decided they had the better case asking for 2% than the government did arguing for 0%). That has opened the door for other public servants to demand the same. In the private sector, too, the workers who have stood strong and said 0% isn’t good enough are getting more. The Metals MECA, which covers thousands of workers across hundreds of small manufacturing businesses, recently settled for 2% plus redundancy protections.
But it doesn’t happen by magic. Left to their own devices, the bosses will give you 0% and tell you you’re lucky to have a job. If you want more, if you think you’re worth as much as or more than you were last year, you’re only going to get it as a member of your union.