- 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.