Two of New Zealand’s leading transport unions have welcomed international support for the proposed Fair Pay Agreements (FPA’s).
Discussions last week at the International Labour Organization in Geneva saw support for FPA’s from national and worker representatives.
Representatives of Business New Zealand attempted to have FPA’s denounced at this international forum on labour rights.
However, the opposite happened.
In the formal conclusions adopted by the Committee on the Applications of Standards (CAS), the ILO noted the discussion on FPAs and encouraged dialogue to continue between social partners.
Country representatives from Australia and Belgium spoke in favour of FPA’s, as did worker representatives from around the world.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says the only achievement of Business NZ was to embarrass New Zealand employers at an international forum.
“Their efforts to undermine fair wages only increased the credibility of FPA’s.”
Mr Butson says what came out of the meeting was that FPA’s were a mainstream and effective way of improving the problem of low wages in many areas of our economy.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison noted award-based systems existed in many countries including Australia.
He says unless wages and conditions for workers in essential industries were improved, New Zealand would continue to see workers move for higher wages across the Tasman and elsewhere.
“The simple message to Business NZ is that their low wage model which exploits workers is finished and they need to move with the times.”
Both unions see a role for FPA’s in parts of the ports and logistics sector.
Both MUNZ and the RMTU are affiliates of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and International Transport Workers’ Federation, whom have backed FPA’s at the ILO level.