This month I read with interest the New Zealand Productivity Commission updated report on labour income share in New Zealand. The report demonstrated that wage growth has not kept up with productivity growth – even though productivity growth is a key driver of wage increases for local workers.
To put this into perspective, the Council of Trade Unions calculated that if wage and salary earners received the same share of income generated in 2017 as they did in 1981 then, on average, employees would be around $11,500 better off.
NZALPA believes that a primary way to reverse the slipping wage growth trend and lift New Zealand's low wage economy is to restore collective bargaining practices. Consequently, in our presentation on the Employment Relations Bill to MPs on the Education and Workforce Select Committee later this month, we shall be reiterating our support for the proposed changes to employment legislation which strengthen collective bargaining rights and structures.
Collective bargaining will help the country to again achieve higher pay, better conditions and increased productivity.
The proposed changes also address the impact that existing employment legislation has had on health and safety – particularly for the more vulnerable members of NZALPA on low pay and employed or engaged under insecure/atypical employment arrangements and 90-day trial periods. One of the findings of the recent NZALPA survey of General Aviation members revealed a number of operators in New Zealand who are encouraging a ͚race to the bottom͛ by breaching minimum standards legislation, pressuring pilots to fly when sick or fatigued, or to work longer hours. Added to this, some members reported a reluctance to raise safety concerns. All this adds up to increased health and safety risk.
The details of the survey will appear in next month͛s quarterly Uplink.
In addition, the results of Safeguard’s annual State of the Nation survey has just been released. That survey showed that health and well-being is taken a lot less seriously than workplace safety. Whereby 80% of respondents (health and safety practitioners, health and safety representatives, business owners/senior executives) believed that the safety of workers is taken seriously, only 50% believed the same about workers͛ health and well-being.
One employment right that is particularly important for workers' health is to be able to access regular rest and meal breaks while at work. This is especially so in the aviation industry which relies on long hours and shift work and is an issue particularly for our ATC members who will be denied this most basic right under the proposed legislative changes.
We will be urging the Select Committee to look beyond the misleading argument that there needs to be more 'flexibility' around rest and meal breaks, and instead focus on the genuine and imperative health and safety needs of staff. Our members and all New Zealand workers deserve nothing less.