Unions urge fair pay agreements for cleaning industry

Cleaning, security and supermarkets nominated to receive Fair Pay Agreements.

The Council of Trade Unions is urging government to introduce Fair Pay Agreements following the release of its report into the validity of sector bargaining.

Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff, said the union, along with Etu and First Union, is calling for cleaning, security and supermarkets to be the first sectors to receive the Fair Pay Agreements, which he said would lift the pay and conditions and set minimum wage standards.

The trade union said the report, conducted by independent economic research company BERL, found “there is no economic reason not to implement sector bargaining but many social and individual wellbeing reasons to do so”.

“Modern sector bargaining such as the proposed Fair Pay Agreements will lift the pay and conditions across an entire sector, to ensure working people have access to a fair return of the profits made by business, and stop bad employers undercutting people’s wages,” Wagstaff said.

E tū assistant national secretary Annie Newman said Fair Pay Agreements are “well overdue” in New Zealand.

“One of the main problems in security and cleaning is the contracting model, which sees companies in a race to the bottom with wages and conditions,” Newman said.

“Some of the biggest companies have told us they’d really like to pay better wages but can’t afford it as they’ll be undercut by exploitative employers. Fair Pay Agreements can be a solution to that.”

Dennis Maga, general secretary, First Union said; “The OECD has made it clear that our current workplace laws have created social and economic woes such as inequality, reduced productivity, undermining of social mobility, the holding back of progress in living standards, and political instability. We must turn this ship around.”

The release of the report follows recommendations by the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group earlier this year that supported the introduction of the agreements, which would bring employers, workers and their unions together to agree on a fair minimum pay rate and conditions across a single industry.

The Fair Pay Agreement working group, chaired by former Prime Minister Jim Bolger, comprised experts in economics, collective bargaining and employment law, along with representatives of workers and business.

The Fair Pay Agreements report proposed a system of industry-wide collective agreements for New Zealand workplaces, which the group says “will be most useful in sectors or occupations where competition is driving a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of wages and conditions.”

The recommendations in the report addressed the initiation of bargaining, coverage and scope of the agreements and the bargaining rules and processes of negotiations.

The report recommended Fair Pay Agreements bargaining could be triggered by ‘representativeness’ in any sector or occupation if they meet the minimum threshold of 1000 or 10 per cent of workers in that nominated sector or occupation.

Lees-Galloway, who first announced the establishment of the group in June 2018, said at the time of the report’s release the government was in the process of considering the recommendations.

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One thought on “Unions urge fair pay agreements for cleaning industry

  1. The ‘race to the bottom’ in the cleaning sector has been due to the activities of some unscrupulous (or desperate) franchisees , who either flout or are not subject to employment legislation. Both part 6a of the ERA and the Cleaning MECA have until now successfully stopped this often quoted ‘race to the bottom’. However, the recent union decision to not cite one of the largest cleaning employers to MECA bargaining now threatens the utility of these arrangements – but rectifying this remains firmly in the hands of organised labour, should they so choose.

    The question remains: how will sector bargaining rectify the issue in the cleaning industry of operators who are not subject to employment legislation undercutting those who are? Likely it will not, and greater inequity could be the result.

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