'Workers have been doing it tough during the cost-of-living crisis, and the single most effective protection we have is Fair Pay Agreements'
Thousands of Kiwis have thrown their support behind a petition calling for the New Zealand government to keep fair pay agreements (FPAs).
The Keep Fair Pay Coming petition has garnered a total of 12,779 signatures as of writing of this article.
“We are seeing working people standing together to protect FPAs,” said Richard Wagstaff, president of New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTC). “Workers have been doing it tough during the cost-of-living crisis, and the single most effective protection we have is Fair Pay Agreements.”
The government will repeal the Fair Pay Agreement regime by Christmas 2023.
“Not only will this prevent employees and unions from taking steps to commence bargaining for such agreements, but the six applications which are already in the process of bargaining – including in the hospitality industry, commercial cleaners, early childhood education, and the grocery supermarket industry – will also be unable to progress further,” said William Fussey, an associate on the Employment team at Anderson Lloyd in Christchurch, in an HRD article.
Cost-of-living crisis cited in FPA petition
Fair Pay Agreements have already significantly progressed for more than 200,000 people working as bus drivers, cleaners, security guards, supermarket workers, early childhood education workers, hospitality workers and port workers, according to the petition.
“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,” it read.
However, Prime Minister “Christopher Luxon and the National Party want to get rid of FPAS,” it said.
“Any government whose first move is to strip the promise of a better working life away from hundreds of thousands of people is profoundly out of touch,” said Wagstaff. “They should be listening to the people who would benefit from an FPA, and to the thousands who want to see FPAs protected.”
The petition is looking to get 15,000 signatures.
The Fair Pay Agreements Act 2022 came into force in April 2023.
A fair pay agreement (FPA) “will set minimum terms and conditions of employment for employees across whole industries or occupations, regardless of who they are employed by or whether they are members of a union,” said Alastair Espie, a senior associate practicing employment law at Duncan Cotterill in Auckland, in a piece for HRD.
Did Māori, Pasifika people benefit from FPAs?
Recently, Newshub obtained a copy of two leaked documents showing that the Treasury told Brooke van Velden, workplace relations minister, that women, young people, Māori and Pasifika people could have disproportionately benefited from FPAs.
However, van Velden told Cabinet that she did not believe a blunt tool like FPAs would have been successful.
"We just don't believe that FPAs are actually good at creating good business environment and therefore good long-term certainty for good employees," said Luxon, according to the report.