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BusinessNZ has been telling porkies about fair pay agreements

Written By: - Date published: 7:55 am, June 13th, 2022 - 10 comments
Categories: business, Economy, Living Wage, making shit up, Media, michael wood, spin, Unions, wages, workers' rights, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Just under a month ago I wrote:

Business NZ has claimed that the proposed Fair Play legislation breaches International Labour Law.  And that the International Labour Organisation agrees with it.

But its claims appear to be on the wrong side of what we could politely describe as the truth.

I think that the result is now clear.

Back then according to the media:

BusinessNZ said the Fair Pay Agreement Bill, currently under select committee consultation, had landed New Zealand on an international “naughty list” of the 40 “worst case breaches” of international labour treaties.

Was Aotearoa New Zealand really on the ILO naughty list?

It appears not.

From the Spinoff:

Business lobby group BusinessNZ has failed in its bid to have New Zealand’s fair pay agreements deemed inconsistent with international conventions.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), the UN agency responsible for workers’ rights and employment, found that the proposed legislation did not contravene international labour law. The bill would create a new system for collective bargaining and set a floor on pay and conditions for workers in an industry, particularly in low-wage sectors such as cleaning and care work.

BusinessNZ thinks the result is a vindication.  Yep you read this right.  Here is what they said:

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said he was “pleased” with the outcome of the case “as the conclusions recognise that the government has an opportunity to ensure that the bill complies with international law”.

That has always been our goal,” he said. “This decision validates our legitimate claim that compelling people to bargain is not consistent with the NZ government’s obligations and commitments and we look forward to ensuring that NZ can meet those obligations.”

Let me get this right.

BusinessNZ says that Fair Pay agreements will breach ILO rules and that NZ is on the ILO’s naughty list.

The ILO says no the agreements are fine, keep talking.

BusinessNZ then claims the decision is a vindication of their position because even though the ILO says New Zealand is not on the naughty list.

There are intelligent people working to bend the English language beyond breaking point so that their employer can claim that A is actually B.

How stupid do they think we are?

The real problem is that the media went to town on BusinessNZ’s claims.  But so far the reporting of the ILO response and how wrong BusinessNZ was is somewhat sparse.

Hats off to you Spinoff.  Newsroom has this scathing take on the decision.  But at this stage I see no mention of the decision in the Herald.

So Herald readers are told that fair pay agreements are a bad thing because of the ILO complaint but after the ILO dismisses the claim there is crickets.

I should finish with Michael Wood’s press release.  Sure I will be accused of being a propaganda spreader on behalf of the Government but Michael’s comments are so on point and so relevant that they should be amplified.  He said:

“Despite efforts by opponents to misrepresent the purpose of FPAs, the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards has not found that FPAs are inconsistent with international conventions, setting the record straight once and for all,” Michael Wood said.

“The ILO has instead suggested the Government continue to consult social partners on the proposed legislation, and to report back on it as part of New Zealand’s regular reporting on ILO conventions. This is scheduled for 2024.

“It was pleasing to have support from the Australian Government, alongside worker representatives from Australia, Samoa, Chile, Italy (who represented a number of European unions), the International Transport Federation and Public Service International. Each saw Fair Pay Agreements as a positive step for New Zealand workers. By contrast, no employer organisation spoke in support of BusinessNZ’s case other than themselves and the employer spokesperson for their group.

“The Government is happy to discuss the future design of the FPA system, but active misinformation campaigns and vexatious complaints to international bodies, do a dis-service to the employers that actually want to make the change required to help New Zealand realise its economic potential.

“After the ILO conclusion it’s time for BusinessNZ to come back to the table and work with us to introduce a system that allows industries to set minimum pay and working conditions to stop a race to the bottom.

“Sector based minimum standards are common place across the OECD, including Australia and most of Europe. It’s time to leave the hyperbole at home and engage in rolling out an employment relations system that is fairly common place around the world.

“Our 30-year experiment with a low-cost labour model has not worked. Many workers have suffered, but, equally, our rates of labour productivity have been amongst the worst in the world under that regime. “The Government will consider the recommendations made by the ILO as part of the legislative process,” Michael Wood said.

Bring it on.  Fair Pay agreements will mean that less of our kids grow up in poverty and that our community can be more supportive of all of us.  Of all of the policies that this Government can put in place, this is the most important.

10 comments on “BusinessNZ has been telling porkies about fair pay agreements ”

  1. newsense 1

    I mean all they’re doing is underlining that the employees with the weakest bargaining positions need protection because employers are likely to behave poorly and lie in order to get what they want.

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    I'm afraid they're one-trick ponies at BusinessNZ. A more mature outfit would have been supportive of the workers on which they depend – but the long decades during which Labour backed away from the union movement have allowed a toxic, quasi-criminal commercial culture that sees exploitation as a right and a good to supplant more balanced workplace relations.

  3. Patricia Bremner 3

    Bussiness NZ are stalling, and 'put up or accept' should have a date.

    Get this legislation locked in.

    Consultation has a place, but in the face of such obdurate behaviour action to support these workers who have by and large been essential, is required.

    Let us see the end of toxic work rules. Business NZ should show some grace.

    The Herald should print a full report, and retraction. Tui!!!

    We need to go on social media and beat the drum.

    A workers' Association is badly needed and conditions of work and pay should be fair.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Various NZ business lobby groups since the 80s have catastrophised on anything beneficial to the working class, particularly minimum wage hikes and removal of youth rates. The sky did not fall. FPAs while not necessarily likely to advance a class left agenda, will have a positive effect on pay rates, a wage floor across industries, and workers rights overall.

    I recall an ILO special investigation into the Natzo’s 1991 Employment Contracts Act, bosses were not so keen to quote the ILO back then!

    • Craig H 4.1

      Business lobby groups have catastrophised since the 1880s, but as you say, the sky hasn't fallen in that time either.

  5. peter sim 5

    Business people have the money to spend and are organised, by association at least, to spend that money on denying their employees rights and privileges that employers enjoy.

    A moral oddity.

    • Scott Pearson 5.1

      I think it is fair for employers to get a bigger share of the pie than employees

      • Craig H 5.1.1

        Individual employers usually do get more than individual employees which makes sense in most contexts. I don't think the employer share of the pie should bigger than the employee share, however.

  6. PsyclingLeft.Always 6

    "Job ads continue to grow to record heights, and interestingly, there has also been an increase in the number of full-time roles being advertised, compared to part-time, casual and temporary roles," Seek country manager Rob Clark said.

    Full time roles made up 74 percent of all roles advertised on the website prior to the pandemic but it had jumped to 81 percent of all roles.

    Clark said the shift was occurring because firms that relied on casual workers could not afford to lose them.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/469047/skills-gap-job-ads-on-seek-rise-3-percent-to-new-record-applications-fall-4-percent

    Seemingly WORKERS are being Valued. And not before time. Good Thread Mickey Savage. And Onya Michael Wood !

    Of course some…still require BAU

    https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/queenstown/workers-wanted-resort%E2%80%99s-existential-crisis

    I did lol at the apparent Existential Crisis. Needed the Worlds Smallest Violin with that hyperbole.. : )

  7. Mike the Lefty 7

    Business NZ apparently has a problem with fair pay, but doesn't have a problem with the nefarious NZ system of hiring people to work as "independent contractors" rather than "employees" so they don't have to pay them annual leave, sick leave, stat holidays, etc. and usually have to supply all their own equipment. However they are not independent because they inevitably have to sign contracts that say they will not work for anyone else. There is court action underway now that challenges this, I hope it succeeds.

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