BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope has ruled out the business’ involvement in the Ardern Government’s “unlawful” compulsory national pay agreements, known as Fair Pay Agreements.
Announced earlier this year, the radical overhaul to New Zealand’s labour laws aims to allow unions to negotiate on an industry-wide basis in an effort to improve wages and conditions across all members of an occupation, and encourage businesses not to undercut one another.
“Compulsory FPAs are unlawful under both current domestic and international employment laws and are totally out of step with how we need to work in 2021,” Hope said.
“They aren’t needed, [and] remove the flexibility and autonomy of modern workplaces and won’t improve pay and conditions for hardworking Kiwis.
“After thoroughly reviewing the latest proposal, we’ve formally refused the Government’s offer.”
According to Hope, the push for a more centralised bargaining system is another measure of control the Government is pushing for, and that it should instead be listening to what officials recommended – a reset of the current system, with improved and strengthened protections in place to achieve better workplace relations.
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said BusinessNZ’s decision isn’t likely to have a major impact on the scheme’s viability: since BusinessNZ was only supposed to be a ‘backstop’ to step in should a sector be unable to form a bargaining unit for itself.
“If that does not happen, and there is no backstop, we had always proposed that the FPA would then go to determination at the Employment Relations Authority,” Wood said, according to Stuff.
“This is unlikely to result in any substantial delays, and in some cases may actually speed up the process.”