The CTU Biennial conference in October was an opportunity to reflect on the significant gains made for working people during the Government’s first two years in power - and to challenge it to go further.
In her speech to the conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke of her Government’s achievements.
They include the lowest rate of unemployment in 11 years and the creation of 92,000 new jobs.
In April this year a $1.20 increase to the minimum wage put the Government on track to meet its goal of lifting the minimum to $20 an hour by 2021.
“With more jobs and better wages we’re seeing real improvement in New Zealanders’ wallets,” the Prime Minister said.
Jacinda Ardern also highlighted measures including restoring the right to reasonable meal and rest breaks, extending paid parental leave to six months, and introducing domestic violence leave to support those escaping it.
She said the Government had made changes to the Employment Relations Act to “give voice to the greatest asset we have, our workforce and our people”. The changes make it easier for workers to know about and join their union, and strengthen collective bargaining and union rights.
Other gains include the largest pay increases in a decade for nurses and teachers, along with significant investment in the mental health workforce.
On the equal pay front a claim for Oranga Tamariki social workers has seen them gain pay increases of up to 30%, while the care and support settlement was extended to mental health and addiction workers.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the frustration of those who believe the Government should be doing more, faster.
She said work is continuing to update pay equity legislation and to progress equal pay claims, and that Fair Pay Agreements are “part of the longer term solution for those ... in the low wage economy”.
But she said challenges caused by years of neglect under National require more than a quick fix.
“We need to stay in Government long enough to ensure these policies stick and prove their worth... We are delivering, but we have so much more to deliver.”
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