Heather du Plessis-Allan: Is this government listening to itself?

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Is this government listening to itself?
In an unbelievable move, it has just announced that it’s going ahead with Fair Pay Agreements.
Now I’ll run you through the details in a tick, but the main gist of it is that the government is re-introducing collective bargaining.
So that, if enough workers in one sector, let’s say cleaners, agree to a pay and conditions deal with their employers, then that will be binding on all employers of cleaners.
Even if the employers weren’t part of negotiations and didn’t say yes to the pay increase, even if they can’t afford it.
Even if they are based on the West Coast and not bringing in the same kind of money as the Auckland employers.
They still have to pay it, it’s binding.
That is a major overhaul of employment legislation.
Business NZ reckons it’s not even in line with international law, because collective agreements are supposed to be voluntary.
But the real kicker here is that the government is doing this because it says it wants to make sure that those workers who got us through the pandemic are getting ‘a fair go again.’
Is this government listening to itself?
Three days ago it just froze the pay of 75% of its workers who got us through the pandemic.
Defence force staffers manning the MIQ hotels, nurses administering the jabs, teachers who taught throughout lockdowns.
This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.
Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.
But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do.
The hypocrisy is blinding.

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