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2020 Budget: Some great initiatives but more needed

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) acknowledges the responsive nature of the Government’s 2020 Budget. There is a necessary need to focus on addressing the significant issues New Zealanders are facing in a COVID-19 world.

CTU Economist Andrea Black thinks that the government is heading down the right path – but wants to see the government to go further faster. “While the targeted wage subsidy – particularly to high growth firms; free trades training; increased health spending; the investment in environment jobs as well as increased focus on research and development is great it would have been good to have seen greater emphasis on a general pathway to higher value, higher wage employment for the economy as a whole.”

“We are hopeful that this will be a feature of the balance of the COVID Response and Recovery Fund – $20 billion.”

“We also welcome a number of initiatives, such as increased funding for social service providers and Kōhanga reo, that helped protect our social infrastructure.”

“Social infrastructure is the bedrock on which physical infrastructure and financial activity rests. Its focus is keeping us healthy, nurtured, and able to reach our potential as human beings. The essential workers of Level 4 – the supermarket workers; nurses; doctors; care and disability workers – with the teachers, social workers and public servants are all critical parts of New Zealand’s social infrastructure.”

“COVID-19 has exposed that our social infrastructure is as undervalued and in as poor repair as our physical infrastructure. To maintain (or expand) the wellbeing of the people in New Zealand, we would encourage the Government in its next steps to ensure that at least:”

“Supermarket workers, cleaners, security guard and bus/courier drivers need to earn at least the living wage and have a fair pay agreement While the $980 million per year package for DHBs is welcome, there is still the $2.5 billion health deficit before COVID-19 needs addressing Social insurance for adequate income replacement when you lose your job Financial support needs to be available and liveable for all undertaking training and retraining (i.e. in the tertiary sector) and not tied to unrealistic parental or partner income thresholds”

“This Budget has delivered a massive boost and is good for working people, but given the scale of the challenge we face, it could have gone even further. We look forward to the Government’s future plans and direction for the rest of the COVID Response and Recovery Fund so that the quality of life can be improved for all working Kiwis,” Black said.