Thursday, February 22, 2007

A fair share in '07

Two years ago, the EPMU ran a 5% in '05 campaign which saw 70% of their workers get at least a 5% wage rise. Now they're hoping for a repeat performance this year with the launch of their "fair share '07" campaign. But they're not just after a simple wage rise - with the launch of KiwiSaver later in the year, they will also be pushing for employer contributions to the scheme. It's an excellent idea; some workplaces already provide employer contributions to a retirement package, and extending this down the pyramid and for a portable package which can also be used for a house will make it a lot easier for workers to participate and build their savings. It may also help keep the Reserve Bank's instinct to raise interest rates to keep wages down in check as well.

Business New Zealand is already wailing and gnashing its teeth, complaining about making KiwiSaver an industrial relations issue (how could it not be?) and calling employer contributions "a wage rise by another name" (of course they are, and the EPMU explicitly rcognises that they will be bargained off against cash in the hand and other benefits). But if they want to dig their heels in, that's OK - the EPMU's members will just strike, just like they did two years ago. The 5% in '05 campaign showed that motivated workers can fight for and win concessions from their employers - and with unemployment still at near-record lows, and the economy going well, if they can't make up lost ground now, then when?


Even from a free market perspective employers share data about how much the employees are making and how much they can expect to get an employee for.

So it is reasonable for employes to share data on how much they can expect to make (and how much they should be demanding). EMU as I understand it is not launching a EMU strike.

In reality too many employment contracts are passive contracts on the part of the employee - they take whatever is on offer and don't renegotiate when they have more power and accept changes in conditions by the employee without much comment.


Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 02:08:00 PM



Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 02:22:00 PM

That's very concerning. Birdstrike is very dangerous to aeroplanes. Imagine what would happen if an emu strike hit Air New Zealand.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 03:24:00 PM

With record unemployment, isnt it up to teh employee to quit and find a new, better paying job if they are dissatisfied with their pay? Rather than going on strike. It is a job seekers market and this is hardly north korea where someone has the same factory job for life. I know thats why i did!! With a skills shortage, surely there is no problem utilising that for one's own benefit?

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 04:13:00 PM

But anonymous, how do you expect to have other, better-paying jobs to go to if the general level of wages isn't rising because no one is going on strike?

The EPMU's Fair Share 5% in '05 campaign is a major reason why wages are up across the board.

I'm sorry if it offends your neo-liberal prejudices, but the reality is that competition between workers is a recipe for low wages and insecurity.

Only through collective action - especially on an industry basis - can we raise wage levels for everyone.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 04:31:00 PM

I disagree, if a worker is skilled and there is a demand for his skills then he should be in a position to negotiate a higher pay package. Otherwise employers will be short of workers if no one is willing to work at that wage. You have to remember that the vast majority of workers are not on collective contracts.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 05:16:00 PM

You write about making up lost ground. It is an arrogant assumption that there is any inherent moral right to do any such thing.

This is a bland and supposedly unchallengable assertion that the past high levels of wages obtained by extortion in a situation where unions had blackmail power over employers in workplaces was fair and reasonable. Since it was obtained by such blackmail it could not have been any such thing.

We don't now live in a Muldoonist economy where the government regulates the inflation caused by high wage claims. Inflation is climbing because the government spends far too much money and in typical socialist fashion they also encourage unions to grab as much as they can while they have the chance.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/22/2007 10:55:00 PM

Don't forget that NZ already has high inflationary pressures; the 5% wage rise, if obtained, will add to those pressures. Anyone else remember the wage-price spiral? And that's not even taking into account the other consideration; has productivity improved by 5% or more?


Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 01:14:00 AM

Anon 1:

There has been a skills shortage in a number of industries for years (telecommunications is a perfect example) and yet wages have lagged. The reality on the ground is that while you need good company profits to get higher wage increases, you still need bargaining power to convert those profits into wage increases.

Anon 2: I'm talking about a fair and reasonable distribution of wealth. Unionised workers don't want a Muldoonist command economy or compulsory arbitration. They want to voluntarily and freely negotiate with employers with the use of their right to organise through unions and strike if necessary.

M'lud: This rubbish about wage inflation is getting rather tiring. Any respectable economist will tell you NZ's recent inflation problems have been largely caused by rising oil prices and the out of control housing market. At a time of record wage increases across the board we are seeing inflation trending downwards.

Plus, the EPMU has actually only proposed a 3% immediate pay rise and 2% as an employer contribution to KiwiSaver, which will take the pressure off the CPI.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/23/2007 11:44:00 AM

Dont believe the hype- EPMU are just another business who are currently shafting and getting rid of their own workers with fake redundancies!

Posted by Anonymous : 3/14/2007 07:28:00 PM