Growing petition to keep Fair Pay Agreements


Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), a system for employment terms and conditions to be negotiated across entire industries and occupations, are set to be scrapped by the new Government against official advice

A cabinet consultation paper leaked to the media shows the incoming Government is disregarding the negative impact of repealing Fair Pay Agreements, and the advice of their own officials, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) says.

The paper outlines the process by which Fair Pay Agreements would be repealed. In one section, it outlined who would benefit from improvements to working conditions.

“Given [women, Māori, Pacific people, and young people] are disproportionately represented in workforces where there are lower employment terms, they could have disproportionately benefited from any improved terms obtained by an FPA,” the paper says.

Already, a petition to keep FPAs has attracted more than 10,000 signatures.

“Fair Pay Agreements are already significantly progressed for more than 200,000 people working as Bus Drivers, Cleaners, Security Guards, Supermarket workers, in Early Childhood Education, in Hospitality and Port workers,” the petition page says.

“These workers are in low paying jobs, despite providing essential support to our communities. We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. Increasing pay is the best way to support people right now. There has never been a more important time for working people to be paid fairly.”

NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff says it was a sign of how popular the new legislation was amongst workers.

“We are seeing working people standing together to protect FPAs. Workers have been doing it tough during the cost-of-living crisis, and the single most effective protection we have is Fair Pay Agreements.

“FPAs could revolutionise entire industries, lifting pay, conditions, and access to training. We also believe the new laws will stop the brain drain to places like Australia, which have similar systems to FPAs in place.”

But the ACT party argues that in New Zealand, too many people are forced to spend too much time on transactions instead of production.

“Every industry complains that getting permission, following rules, and ticking boxes drains away the time and energy available for doing their actual job. Fair Pay agreements would have made this problem worse.

“With or without these agreements, productivity is king. No worker can sustainably take home more than they produce, or they’ll send their employer broke. No employer can sustainably pay their workers less than what they produce, because sooner or later someone else will.”

ACT’s Deputy Leader and the new Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden will be leading the work to remove FPAs before Christmas.

The party claims that the contracts cost millions to negotiate and lead to absurdities.

“They allow tiny minorities of workers to force entire industries into nationwide contracts. Butchers wonder if they’re covered by the hospitality code or the retail code. We can only guess it depends on how ‘prepared’ their meats are at the point of sale.”

ACT says FPAs would add to what it considers to be complications with New Zealand’s employment law, including holiday pay, sick leave and personal grievances.

“No agreements are currently settled and those currently being negotiated will be deleted.”