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Fair Pay Agreements put New Zealand back on track to decent jobs

Decent jobs for Kiwis who have been trapped in low-wage industries are set to return with Fair Pay Agreements, says Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff.

“Generations of New Zealanders had a deal where full time labour meant the security of a home, and being able to feed the kids and hold their heads up high,” says Wagstaff. “With today’s announcement we can start to rebuild that dignity and recover a decent quality of life for working Kiwis.”

Wagstaff says the protective benefits of Fair Pay Agreements will extend to businesses as well. “Genuine Kiwi businesses want to do right by their staff, but have been squeezed by undercutting from unethical operators. The logic of the current market-driven system pushes down wages by allowing the worst operators to set conditions for the rest of us.

“In Australia, for example, honourable minimums have been protected and businesses can focus on quality and innovation while still paying healthy wages. We are losing our best home-grown New Zealand talent to better organised countries with regulated industries.”

“It’s shameful that New Zealanders are having to raise children in poverty – even families giving up more than 40 full hours a week to paid employment. There should be no excuse for employers that rely on long-hour, minimum wage work when many of these industries should be the backbone of our economy.

“In industries like kiwifruit, dairying and in transport, unscrupulous employers are dragging down the rest. Fair Pay Agreements will deal to the worst offenders and allow those industries to deliver fair incomes back to the community.”

“This announcement is the turning point from 30 years of struggle for working people, for home-grown business, and small communities sustained by Kiwi industries. The last Government said low wages were our ‘competitive advantage’. Fair Pay Agreements put New Zealanders first and show our real competitive advantages are the Kiwi values of dignity, opportunity and respect.”