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ILO gets message on low pay in New Zealand
Posted On: Thursday, 7 June 2012

Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota (SFWU) National Secretary John Ryall told ILO delegates yesterday that low paid workers in New Zealand are increasingly struggling and planned Government changes to our labour laws will make things worse.

Speaking at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, John Ryall told delegates of the hardship faced by SFWU members struggling on the minimum wage of $13.50.

“The weakening of collective bargaining since the 1980s is a principal cause of New Zealand having one of the fastest growths of income and wealth inequality in the OECD,” he said.

“From nearly top of the OECD ranks for income equality in the early 1980s we have fallen to 23rd out of 30 countries. During this period there were large increases in the overall incomes for the top 20% of New Zealand income earners while average real incomes of the bottom 20% decreased.”

John Ryall told ILO delegates that the Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand campaign, launched two weeks ago by the SFWU and over 60 civil society groups, will mobilise New Zealanders to tell Government to stop the destruction of worker rights and focus on measures to address inequality.

“Together we want to change the objective of our economic thinking so that the focus of every economic decision is: 'Will this deliver and maintain a living wage for all New Zealand workers or will it merely further enrich those New Zealanders who already earn enough to enjoy 20 or 30 living wages?’, “ he said.

John Ryall said labour law changes planned by the National-led government were in breach of international conventions.

“These moves will weaken collective bargaining and put barriers in the way of freedom of association. They are in breach of conventions 87 and 98. The Department of Labour has warned the New Zealand Government about these breaches but the Government is determined to continue with its legislation anyway,” he said.



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