The New Zealand Government has recently introduced a bill which will become a key battleground of the upcoming election. The question is whether the newly enthused National Party can turn it into a “cost of living crisis” type issue to whack the Government with.
The Fair Pay Agreements bill, which was introduced into the house on Tuesday, will create industry-wide bargaining for the various sectors as long as 10 per cent of a workforce, or 1000 workers, want to be covered by it.
It will create – or rather recreate – industry-wide awards which have not existed in New Zealand in decades.
This is a key Labour promise to the union movement and will significantly empower them. Its purpose is to put a floor under labour pay and conditions so that companies cannot compete on lowering the price of labour. Minister of Workplace Relations Michael Wood has been explicit and unapologetic for this fact – he sees it as part of Labour’s historical purpose. Cleaning and security have often been touted as potential sectors for the new agreements.