Will wages drop under National?

Much has been made of the “we would love to see wages drop” comment attributed to John Key.

Misquote, slip of the tongue, or is it the secret National Party employment relations agenda that Key inadvertently revealed to a reporter, as Tane suggests, when addressing a business audience?

Well, let’s look at the National Party policy:

Introduce a 90-day trial period for new employees by agreement between the employer and the employee, for businesses with fewer than 20 staff. During the trial period, either party may terminate the employment relationship for performance, without a personal grievance claim being brought.

Okay, so a small employer will be able to threaten to fire a worker in the first 90 days of employment if he or she joins a union, and the employee will have no personal grievance redress. That policy will have the practical effect of making it almost impossible to unionise small workplaces, with the consequent effect that the wage bargaining power of workers in small business is weakened. A sure recipe for ensuring wages remain low, if not drop.

Restore workers’ rights to bargain collectively without having to belong to a union.

Now this one’s even more worrying in terms of wage levels. This will mean that employers can play off a group of workers in their workplace who are un-unionised against those who are unionised, reach a low-wage settlement with the un-unionised group, and then tell the union the same settlement is available to them on a “take it or leave it” basis, and if they don’t take it lock them out until they do. It will seriously diminish the ability of workers to bargain collectively, and therefore see wages remain low, or even drop.

And there is no mention in the National Party’s policy of continuing even the modest increases in the minimum wage that have occurred over the last 9 years of Labour-led Governments.

So it seems to me that, whatever you make of John Key’s “wages drop” comment, if you want a low wage economy, then a Party Vote for the National Party is the way to go!

Contrast this with Green Party Policy that will see the minimum wage increased to $15 an hour and then tagged to 66% of the average wage, will facilitate multi-employer collective bargaining, and will address freeloading from non-union labour by imposing a bargaining fee of 90% of the relevant union membership fee. The Greens stand for moving to a high wage economy – National will clearly move in the opposite direction.