7 Aug 2023

Change of government a threat to 200,000 people's Fair Pay Agreements - union

4:44 pm on 7 August 2023

Richard Wagstaff. Photo:

Fair Pay Agreements are in the works for some 200,000 workers, though any gains may be short-lived if the general election results in a change of government.

The first industries in the upcoming negotiations include hospitality, grocery supermarkets, security officers and guards, commercial cleaners and early childhood education workers, with negotiations for bus drivers slightly ahead of the pack.

The law covering Fair Pay Agreements, which came into effect late last year, provides for binding agreements setting out minimum employment terms for all employees in an industry or occupation, including such things as standard hours, minimum pay, training and leave.

National and ACT are opposed to the legislation, which passed with support from Labour, the Green Party and Te Pāti Māori.

Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said the legislation was about setting out minimum standards for workers, and it would be disappointing if progress was derailed by a change of government.

"That is what the opposition parties are promising, that they would remove those bargaining rights for these workers," Wagstaff said.

"We think that the need for industry standards is incredibly important."

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said it was a futile exercise and was unlikely to result in any gains for either side of the bargaining table.

"I think it's significantly wasting people's time," Hope said.

"Even the officials' advice to the government was that the cost of these agreements would certainly outweigh the benefits and that there would be better ways to deal with vulnerable workers in particular sectors."

The election is scheduled for 14 October.

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