Chamber Concerned at Fair Pay Agreements Proposal

5 June 2018

Fair Pay Agreements are a cause of concern for the business community, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce CEO Leeann Watson.

“We are heartened that Business NZ are part of the working group announced today to flesh out the policy, but we are not supportive of a national award type employment regime in New Zealand,” said Ms Watson.

“We are therefore disappointed the working group terms of reference do not include whether such a system is necessary. The concept of nationwide employment agreements setting minimum pay and conditions for entire industries or occupations is particularly concerning for small employers who may not be able to absorb costs their larger competitors can.”

“It also removes the flexibility in the New Zealand employment relations environment. Under the proposal employers and workers can’t negotiate their own conditions – unless they are above the Fair Pay Agreement rates. That’s where industrial tension could become an issue – while you can’t strike for an FPA, you could strike to get your own rates above the FPA rate, as we saw in the 1970s and 80s in New Zealand.”

“This is an employment model we have not seen in New Zealand for a generation – and we are unconvinced of the benefits of re-introducing it,” said Ms Watson.

The Chamber will be actively engaged with the working group process and will continue to work with the Government to ensure the outcomes are positive for all New Zealanders.
“We hope the working group will be open to all feedback and consider the modern New Zealand working environment and the future of work. However, we remain opposed to the concept of national awards,” says Leeann Watson.

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