Thursday, July 25, 2024
8.4 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

The meat in the fair pay sandwich

Kintyre Meats is one of several Wairarapa companies opposing the Fair Pay Agreements Bill. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

[email protected]

In its select committee submission, Kintyre Meats said the bill’s introduction would leave small businesses without representation that benefits both employees and employers.

Kintyre Meats said the Fair Pay Agreement [FPA] would not only contribute to escalating costs and inflationary pressures but dull a “healthy, and beneficial, competitive tension between New Zealand meat companies in respect of wages, worker benefits, and hours”.

It said the bill would also reduce productivity.

“As the industry experienced under the past award systems, innovation will be stymied.

“More flexible worker conditions, including in respect of skills and training, have led to innovations in the boning room, product cuts and uptake in technology since the 1990s, despite the provision for differentiation and district variations.”

Kintyre Meats said much of its workforce had been with the company since it was established in 2002, with staff ranging in age from 18 to 70.

“To attract, motivate, teach and retain our people, the wage structure at Kintyre Meats is more favourable than other community labouring positions.”

It said it offered a starting rate for an unskilled worker or school lever at 7 per cent above the minimum wage.

The New Zealand minimum wage is $21.20, and the living wage is set at $23.65 by Living Wage New Zealand.

When progressing from entry-level roles, Kintyre Meats said workers were awarded skill-based assessment allocations with minimum threshold processing staff starting at $25 to $30 an hour.

The concerns of Kintyre Meats were echoed in other submissions to the bill, with Martinborough Transport Ltd opposing the bill for similar reasons.

“The so-called Fair Pay Agreements regime would technically not amount to compulsory unionism, but in real terms would make New Zealand workers beholden to trade unions. It would seriously erode New Zealand workers’ right to freedom of association,” Martinborough Transport Ltd said.

In its submission, Greater Wellington Regional Council requested that the bill include a provision for Public Transport Authority funders to be involved in Fair Pay Agreement discussions, should they wish to.

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty said that some of the information received by Kintyre Meats and other businesses was part of a “misinformation campaign” circling among businesses.

He said he wasn’t accusing any Wairarapa business of spreading misinformation.

Many of the 100s of submissions against the bill read by the Times-Age had almost identical content.

McAnulty said Wairarapa workers earned less than those in similar roles in other regions.

“Wages haven’t kept up with production in this country, and opposition parties like National have opposed every minimum wage rise while saying that people are all off to Australia because it offers higher wages.

“Australia has had a Fair Pay Agreement for ages – wages are higher there than in New Zealand.”

He said it was time to put politics aside and focus on doing the right thing.

McAnulty said that every business’ turnover was dependent on people’s ability to spend money.

“A wage increase doesn’t automatically mean an increase in costs.”

He said an increase in spending with businesses would offset the wage increase.

In response to what he called misinformation, he said there wouldn’t be a provision for strikes under a Fair Pay Agreement, and the agreement had nothing to do with compulsory unionisation.

McAnulty said there was a misconception that if 10 per cent of the workforce, or 1000 people, called for a Fair Pay Agreement, it would automatically be put in force.

McAnulty said this was a falsehood and all that would happen was that the employers and employees would enter negotiations.

He said that Kintyre Meats owners were “good guys”, and he would contact them within minutes of his conversation with the Times-Age.

He said he was keen to be involved in discussions with business owners in Wairarapa, no matter their perspective.

“I’m pleased people have put submissions in. It’s essential all views are heard.”

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
clear sky
8.4 ° C
8.4 °
8.4 °
95 %
0 %
8 °
14 °
14 °
13 °
15 °