All too often, employers compete for contracts by holding down pay and undermining conditions in an endless race to the bottom.
When union members negotiate better pay and improved conditions in one workplace, rival employers in another non-union workplace may undercut us with substandard rates.
The lack of regulation and privatisation of sectors like home and community support contributes to deteriorating conditions.
IT’S ABOUT FAIRNESS
Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) are intended to change this. The Labour Government plans to introduce FPA legislation later this year, which is expected to pass in 2022.
A Fair Pay Agreement is about more than pay, it is about fairness.
FPAs will establish consistent minimum standards about how workers are treated and what rules apply to us on the job, no matter where we work in the country. This includes things like breaks, training, hours and safety procedures.
Every time an FPA process is initiated, it will end with an FPA being established. Neither side is allowed to walk away.
FPAs will not replace existing employment agreements and we will still bargain for new collective agreements, even in industries where FPAs come into force. Our collective agreements will sit on top of the floor established by FPAs.
Strike action will not be allowed as part of negotiating FPAs, but our right to strike when negotiating normal collective agreements remains unchanged.
We can and will negotiate collectives with better terms than the minimums set in FPAs, but the intention is to prevent anyone going below them.
Business lobby groups have cynically made scaremongering claims about FPAs, many of them inaccurate.
We urge our members to pay attention to this important issue and inform colleagues and friends about how FPAs can make all our working lives better.
HOW DO THEY WORK?
The process of creating an FPA begins when workers democratically decide to make it happen.
Step one: A union must demonstrate support from workers in a particular sector. Either a thousand people or ten percent of those employed in the industry, whichever number is smaller.
Step two: Employer and worker representatives sit down and try to reach mutually agreeable terms for pay rates and conditions to become the new minimum floor.
Step three: A proposal is voted on by everyone employed in the sector, both workers and employers. If both sides agree, the proposal passes and your FPA kicks in across New Zealand.
Step four: If the proposal is rejected, employer and worker representatives go back to the negotiating table and have another go. If it goes to another vote and is again rejected, the matter will be referred to the Employment Relations Authority. The ERA will then decide what terms are applied to the sector.