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Greens: expanding living wage beyond public service with Fair Pay Agreements

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, September 17th, 2020 - 16 comments
Categories: election 2020, greens, wages, workers' rights - Tags:


Greens will push next term for Government to expand dignified income beyond public service with Fair Pay Agreements

The Green Party welcome Labour’s commitment to extend the living wage to Government contractors, but will push for Fair Pay Agreements across industries in the next Government so more New Zealanders can earn a dignified income.

“Labour extending decent pay to contractors employed by the Government is a great first step. We know that successive governments have saved money by contracting out services in a way that incentivised poverty wages and bare minimum conditions for our people. We need to change that,” Green Party Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Jan Logie said today.

“But we can’t stop there. Low wage workers in industries not contracted by Government continue to get us through the COVID-19 pandemic, and decent pay should extend to them.

“If elected, we’ll push for the Government to bring in legislation to ensure Fair Pay Agreements, starting with people doing essential work like retail, cleaning, and security.

“These agreements set minimum employment standards, which are agreed through bargaining between employers and unions.

“Those agreements then become legally-required minimum standards for people working throughout the whole sector.

“It ensures workers get fair, decent pay and conditions and opportunities for training – and businesses have a set of consistent standards to work towards. This creates a strong foundation for our businesses and communities.

“Our security guards, cleaners, supermarket staff and so many other Kiwi workers have worked hard to keep New Zealand ticking over and to keep us safe during COVID-19. It is well overdue we legislated to ensure they are paid what they’re worth.”

How do Fair Pay Agreements work?

These legislated agreements will be a set of sector-specific minimum employment standards covering wages and working conditions. Essentially, it sets a fair framework for negotiations between employers and unions, which once agreed upon, become legal requirements for all people working in that sector.

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16 comments on “Greens: expanding living wage beyond public service with Fair Pay Agreements ”

  1. Chris 1

    The living wage isn't that much more than the minimum wage.

  2. What a lot of ludicrous nonsense! This is why I have zero confidence in most of what the Greens say.

    How on earth is this going to be forced on contractors employed by the government? Most times contractors get their contracts through competitive bidding, without providing a breakdown of the parts or reasoning behind their contracts. No way could the competitive bidding process be used and then somehow force the bidders to pay ‘living wage’ levels.

    Many of these contractors then further navigate the law by sub contracting with their 'employees'. This nonsense would just form another layer of unproductive compliance monitoring (which costs us all) and achieve nothing.

    Far simpler, fairer and effective would be to just lift the minimum wage up to the 'Living Wage' level. Or have some kind of universal basic income or zero income tax for the first (say) $10,000 of earnings.

    • weka 2.1

      You're talking about Labour's recently released policy there.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300105769/labour-promises-living-wage-to-all-government-contractors

      why can govt not make a living wage a condition of all contracts? If someone lies in their bid, I'm sure it will become apparent after the contract has been given to them. Can't imagine too many businesses will want to do that.

      • Peter ChCh 2.1.1

        Yes Weka I am aware of that. It was a ludicrous policy floated by Labour, but Greens intend to take it even further.

        • Ad 2.1.1.1

          The Fair Pay Agreements have been a massive failure. And there's no sign they will succeed outside the beltway. The Greens just show how ignorant they are of actually running any business.

          Agree with lifting Minimum Wage as far more efficient. It's not as if it would be inflationary.

    • Pat 2.2

      "How on earth is this going to be forced on contractors employed by the government?"

      The same way it used to be….once upon a time an employee being classed as a 'contractor' was virtually impossible due to IRD rules.

      The problem lies in the contractor being able to class its employees as sub contractors not the tendering process.

      • Peter ChCh 2.2.1

        IRD rules re contractors remain much the same as they always have. The tests are well explained and very clear still. But, as with any set of laws, they are frequently navigated away from, frequently willingly by both parties.

        • Pat 2.2.1.1

          "IRD rules re contractors remain much the same as they always have"

          I think not, but should they be so the interpretation and enforcement has certainly changed…i recall the blanket refusal by IRD of allowing anyone deriving the bulk of their income from a single source as being anything other than an employee with all the implications that entails…from memory the change occurred around the time of the ECA.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3

      Many of these contractors then further navigate the law by sub contracting with their 'employees'. This nonsense would just form another layer of unproductive compliance monitoring (which costs us all) and achieve nothing.

      Do you understand that the second sentence quoted applies to the first sentence?

      Contractors are using all sorts of complications that are unnecessary, unproductive and achieve only theft from everyone else. And, yes, those complications end up costing us because they cover their expenses by charging us more. So they end up both stealing from us and charging us for the privilege of doing so.

      This is, of course, why we need to get rid of the loopholes that businesses use to avoid paying the taxes that they owe.

      How on earth is this going to be forced on contractors employed by the government?

      Employees wages and contractors charges are declared to IRD.

      Wonder if they’re going to legislate that the self-employed need to pay themselves the minimum wage.

      Most times contractors get their contracts through competitive bidding, without providing a breakdown of the parts or reasoning behind their contracts.

      This doesn't mean that they don't have such a break down themselves. In fact, having taken part in producing a tender, I can assure you that they do. It is difficult to know how much to charge to make a profit if how much its going to cost isn't known.

  3. RedBaronCV 3

    The fair pay agreements need to go a lot further than just a living wage. The salaries of the upper echelon and profits directed offshore need to be reduced and that amount redistributed among the other employees to cut back on inequality. They need to promote both worker involvement on the boards and the sort of bargaining that unions used to undertake.

    Yes government and local body tenders should insist on a living wage but also could specify other financial constraints around the amounts taken by high end wages profits etc. Not easy but good to signal.

  4. georgecom 4

    I am at a bit of a loss as to what some people are on about with this thread. Fair Pay Agreements are not related to the living wage or contractors. The proposed legislation for FPAs set up a framework for industry based collective negotiations, the outcome to be decided through bargaining between employers and unions.

    • Ad 4.1

      Most industries in New Zealand don't have functioning unions or indeed any union at all. So that's a fairly large fail there.

      • PsyclingLeft.Always 4.1.1

        " Most industries in New Zealand don't have functioning unions or indeed any union at all."

        And isnt that a bad thing.Neolib "labour"(aka ACT Douglas, Prebble,Caygill et al )and their follow on, the Neolib nats destroyed Unions.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogernomics

      • georgecom 4.1.2

        yes some industries are not heavily unionised and I am sure a few have very minimal or no union coverage. so the first sites of work will be in industries with reasonable union coverage – think supermarkets as the obvious example. over time however there is no reason to say unions cannot organise/build density in sectors not heavily unionised at present

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