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ILO rejects Business NZ criticism of FPAs

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions was heartened by the support shown for Fair Pay Agreements at the International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva.

In the formal conclusions adopted by the Committee on the Applications of Standards (CAS) released today, the ILO noted the discussion on FPAs and encouraged the dialogue to continue between social partners. The ILO saw no reason to inhibit the passage of this important legislation, despite Business NZ imploring CAS to do so.

The outcome and conclusions of the CAS was a vindication of FPA’s came after a thorough discussion on Wednesday where the merits of FPAs were discussed.

The CAS, after hearing the discussion, saw right through the employers’ position and drew conclusions which serve to strengthen our confidence and determination to support the passage of the legislation, and get on with the job of implementing an FPA framework that serves workers and industries better than our current arrangements.

During the discussion, New Zealand’s plans for FPAs received strong support from the Australian and Belgian Governments, who likened the benefits of FPAs to the benefits of their own award systems.

Business New Zealand, who are implacably opposed to FPAs, did not have their view endorsed by any countries.

FPAs were also strongly endorsed by multiple worker spokespeople from countries including the United Kingdom, Norway, France, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Chile, Samoa, and Australia. The supporters drew attention to NZ’s relative lack of industry standards in employment law, and believed the solution was to urgently put FPAs in place.

NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff said the discussion was very encouraging.

“We’re delighted with the support shown by other countries, and support from worker spokespeople. Being put on the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards shortlist gave us an opportunity to show the merits of FPAs.”

The application to the shortlist was made by Business New Zealand, a move that was termed “more political than credible” by Wagstaff.

“It was basically a publicity stunt that risked eroding NZ’s reputation globally, in an attempt to mask the real problems with our wage fixing system that FPAs are designed to address. The lack of support Business New Zealand in the CAS discussion highlighted how out of step their organisation is with other businesses, governments and workers in the international ILO community.” “It’s time for FPAs opponents to stick to the facts. A debate on the merits will show this is a positive change for New Zealand, and brings us in line with jurisdictions like Australia that already have a form of modern awards and consistently boast higher wages than New Zealand.”