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A fair deal for working people and good employers

Labour will implement sensible changes to employment law to prevent the small number of bad employers undercutting good employers and driving a ‘race to the bottom’ on wages and conditions, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“The current law undermines good employers who pay their employees well and offer good working conditions. They can find themselves undercut by a small number of bad employers who compete by driving down labour costs. Labour’s sensible changes will fix this.

“After nine years of National, working people’s share of the economy is falling. Less than 40 per cent of economic growth under National has gone to working people through higher pay. If working people’s slice of the economy hadn’t shrunk under National, pay packets would have been a total of $23 billion larger.

“When 40 per cent of children in poverty live in a working household and two-thirds of workers’ pay fell in real terms last year despite the economy growing, working people are not sharing in economic prosperity. That’s just not fair.

“Labour will boost the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour and base future increases on the real cost of living for people on low incomes. Over time, we will work towards lifting the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage as economic conditions allow.

“Most employers use trial periods fairly but National’s fire at will law has encouraged abuse by a small number of employers. Labour will replace National’s unfair law with trial periods that include protection against unfair dismissal and a fast, fair, simple dispute resolution process.

“Labour will work with businesses and unions to implement Fair Pay Agreements across industries. These will stop bad employers from undermining wages and working conditions to undercut good employers. Fair Pay Agreements will lay out the basic pay and working conditions in an industry, and prevent a ‘race to the bottom’.

“The recent care workers’ settlement is an example of how employers and employees can come together to create an agreement that sets base conditions across a number of employers. As in Australia, employers and employees creating a floor together will help to boost wages and create a more productive economy.

“It’s important that government sets an example as a good employer. So Labour will ensure that all core public service employees are paid at least the Living Wage.

“Working people and good employers need to have confidence that bad employers won’t be allowed to exploit workers. So Labour will double the number of Labour Inspectors.

“Labour’s sensible changes will help boost incomes and support employers who offer good pay and conditions. It’s the right thing to do after nine years of a government that has put profits ahead of a fair return for working people,” says Andrew Little.