The first reading of the historic Fair Pay Agreements (FPA) Bill – which will bring together employers and unions to bargain for minimum standards across industries and occupations – took place in Parliament last month.
The news comes in the wake of rocketing housing, food, and power costs, at a time when many New Zealanders haven’t had a pay rise in years.
In essential industries like hospitality, transport, and early education, being paid the minimum wage – or close to it – is the norm.
Workers are burnt out, undervalued and underpaid. But if we speak up, we can change things for the better.
CHANGING THE GAME
FPAs could change the game by requiring employers to negotiate better pay and conditions if at least 10 per cent of their workforce or 1,000 staff agree to it.
This will ensure people are paid fairly by setting minimum rates employers must comply with.
PSA national secretary Kerry Davies describes FPAs as: “the most radical change to employment legislation since the Employment Relations Act was passed two decades ago.”
PSA workplace delegate and immigration worker Andy Rothville says: “Fair Pay Agreements represent a step forward for workers and a smart use of our limited resources. They can help renew interest in unionising by showing working New Zealanders exactly what we can achieve.”
FPAs have, unsurprisingly, attracted the ire of conservative politicians and big business outriders.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon proposed scrapping the Bill, calling it: “a complete jump back to the 1970s.” Meanwhile, ACT's David Seymour likened FPAs to "compulsory unionism.”
The Government, however, remains committed to delivering on its manifesto pledge.
Michael Wood, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, said: “FPAs will be critical in stopping the ‘race to the bottom’ in many sectors, which can see good employers undercut.”
While some employers welcome improving working standards across sectors and industries, others will speak out loudly against FPAs. We must make our voices louder than theirs.