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Annual Mood of the Workforce Survey shows low wage economy hurting Kiwi workers

As the New Zealand economy stares down the barrel of a potential omicron outbreak, workers are already feeling squeezed from low wages and high levels of stress and burnout, a new survey reveals.

“The annual Council of Trade Unions “Mood of the Workforce” survey covers over 1500 New Zealand workers and asks questions about workers’ financial situation, workloads and work/life balance, providing a close look into conditions on the front lines of New Zealand’s workforce,” says Acting CTU Secretary Tali Williams.

“This year’s results show Kiwi workers are struggling with low pay and rising cost of living, with just under 70% of respondents saying their wages have not kept up with the rising cost of living over the last 12 months. 63.5% of New Zealand workers said they do not feel they are being paid fairly for the work that they do. In a year when our frontline workers got us through the pandemic, Kiwis are clearly not being paid what they deserve.

“This shows the impact of New Zealand’s low wage economy and the importance of policies like Fair Pay Agreements, which would set minimum floors across industries for workers pay and conditions. New Zealand is one of just a few developed countries that does not have some form of these minimum conditions, and we see that reflected in persistent low wages. At a time when our local economy needs all the help it can get, low wages means lower spending in the economy and hurts workers and businesses alike.

 “Compounding the stress on working families has been increased workloads. 58.8% of New Zealand workers report their workload is worse than it was 12 months ago, with 50% reporting their work life balance worsening over that same period.

“Working people have been at the front lines of the Covid pandemic – keeping us safe, keeping us fed and keeping our country moving. But the results of this survey says we are working harder for less reward. This year as we continue to grapple with the pandemic, the Government needs to take steps to rebalance our economy and make sure that working people are paid fairly,” says Tali Williams.

The full survey report is available here.