Closing the wage gap

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 am, May 19th, 2010 - 5 comments
Categories: class war, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

According to Campbell Live the EPMU has closed the wage gap with an oil and gas deal that sees Kiwis working on rigs getting paid at Australian rates (although as I understand it the Maritime Union of New Zealand also played an important part in the deal).

It makes sense, after all most of these companies are Aussie outfits.

It also shows that the way to close the wage gap is by increasing wages.

The right will tell you that we need to increase productivity to increase wages. What they won’t tell you is that last time we increased productivity wages stagnated and profits soared. Ironically a lot of these profits were shipped directly to the lucky country.

There is a reason Australian oil workers get paid more than Kiwi oil workers (and indeed why all Aussie workers get paid more than their Kiwi equivalents). Work rights.

In fact you can trace the growth of the wage gap from the late eighties when the fourth Labour government (otherwise known as the first Act government) weakened workers bargaining power with the Labour Relations Act and it got much worse with National’s Employment Contracts Act.

In Australia they kept an award system which allowed industry-wide negotiations and industry-wide deals. That meant one group of workers in an industry couldn’t be played off against another to lower terms and conditions. We weren’t so lucky.

Tomorrow the government will announce a budget giving tax cuts to the rich. They claim they need to to grow the economy. In the meantime they are systematically chipping away at work rights and reducing workers’ bargaining power.

There are a lot of Kiwis employed by Australian-owned companies. Their bosses will be laughing all the way to the bank.

5 comments on “Closing the wage gap”

  1. The right think that you need to destroy the village in order to save the village when it comes to living standards. They are much more comfortable with a form of serfdom than with the concept of workers organising to look after their collective interests.

    Nice quip about the first Act Government. I am not sure if it is as clear cut as that although Douglas and co were appalling and if they stayed it would have been the death of the Labour Party.

  2. taranaki 2

    This is a great achievement and an inspiration to other workers to push for a fair deal. Even casual and part-time workers working in retail get a bum deal compared to the Australian employees working for the same company – just look at the workers getting screwed by JB Hifi

    Most JB Hi-Fi workers are paid $13.50, just 75 cents above the minimum wage yet the Australian electronic retail giant JB Hi-Fi’s net profit after tax is expected to be A$117 million to A$120 million this year.

    “It’s absolutely ridiculous JB Hi-Fi has told employees in New Zealand they shouldn’t expect a pay rise this year when over in Australia JB Hi-Fi workers earn nearly twice as much as New Zealand workers,” said Unite Union organiser Omar Hamed.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Time for JB-Hifi workers to join (or create) their union and become partners with the union in Australia and then ask for a collective agreement 😀

  3. Roger 3

    Well put IrishBill. It is amazing that the conditions that give rise to higher wages and a better standard of living in Australia are almost the polar opposite of the policies of National and the prescriptive ideas of their right-wing mates.

  4. Bill 4

    A few years ago I compared the retail prices of an Australian company that operates both here and in in Australia. After throwing the shopping list through a currency converter it transpired that the cost was basically the same in both countries.

    But not the wage level.

    The supermarket workers (Progressive) I spoke to back then were all for demanding pay parity with Oz. but there was no widespread campaign to raise expectations across sites and so the demands at negotiations were much, much lower.

    I don’t know when the current CEA expires, but I’d like to think that the NDU will work on raising expectations on the grounds that it is the same company selling product for roughly the same cost and therefore obligated to pay roughly the same wage rate.

    And from one Australian company having to increase wages here, other supermarket chains will be forced to follow suit. And then other retail.

    The other obvious target would be wage levels in the fast food outlets ( Burger King, Subway McD’s etc) that operate both here and in OZ. It would take very little to check on the retail costs of these operations and pitch wage demands correspondingly.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Cameras on vessels to ensure sustainable fisheries
    Commercial fishing vessels at greatest risk of encountering the rare Māui dolphin will be required to operate with on-board cameras from 1 November, as the next step to strengthen our fisheries management system. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Fisheries Minister ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Greatest number of new Police in a single year
    A new record for the number of Police officers deployed to the regions in a single year has been created with the graduation today of Recruit Wing 326. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of 78 new constables means ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ensuring multinationals pay their fair share of tax
    New Zealand is pushing on with efforts to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, with the release of proposed options for a digital services tax (DST). In February Cabinet agreed to consult the public on the problem ...
    2 weeks ago