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Labour Party’s employment reforms show commitment to tackling inequality

Date of Release: 
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The NZ Labour Party’s just-announced industrial relations agenda demonstrates a clear commitment to tackling the growing inequality in New Zealand and restore democracy to our workplaces, according to FIRST Union.

The agenda features a $2 an hour boost to the minimum wage in the first year (with a view to raising it to two-thirds of average wage by the end of their second term), a Commission of Inquiry into wages and collective bargaining and a review of NZ’s health and safety law, including further funding for Worksafe.

“Over the last three decades we have seen a dramatic rise in inequality in New Zealand,” said FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid.

“Today the Labour Party is demonstrating a clear intention to turn the tide on that inequality. Wage increases and benchmarking the minimum wage to the average wage will help ensure kiwi workers can provide the basic necessities of life for themselves and their families.

“The focus on unions and collective bargaining is also heartening”, said Robert Reid.

“In New Zealand anti-union legislation has left a legacy of growing unemployment, stagnating wages and increasingly insecure work.

“We are pleased to see the party putting the issue of industry standard agreements to the public for discussion, to prevent the race to the bottom in wages and conditions.

We are also pleased to see that the Labour Party is proposing a Commission of Inquiry to look at legislative loopholes employers use to prevent workers from union protection or other fundamental workers’ rights.

“As the election looms, the policy divide is becoming clearer,” said Robert Reid.

“Workers now have a genuine choice between the parties of the left and the right: between a living wage or wage repression, between job security or precarious work, and between a more equal society or greater inequality.”

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