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.