Unions support Greens' policy on workers

Helen Kelly
Helen Kelly
Trade unions have thrown their support behind the Green Party workers policy announced yesterday, building on Labour's bid to get unions back into workplaces.

But the policy is sure to be opposed by businesses, as the Greens would require companies to disclose chief executive salaries more clearly and provide detailed rationale for their pay decisions.

The Greens would also legislate for a staff member to sit on the committees setting executive pay.

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly issued a press release headed ''Greens workers policy supported by the union movement''.

The policy showed the Greens' commitment to collective bargaining as the best and fairest way to improve workers terms and conditions.

''It is great the Greens see real value in the work union members do through their collective action and engagement,'' she said.

The major points of the Green policy are.- Lifting low wages by moving the minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2017 and introducing a living wage for the core government sector. A new legislative minimum redundancy package of four weeks' pay. Bringing top pay back into line, requiring companies to report on the gap between top and bottom pay. Measures to boost bargaining power and make workplaces safer and more democratic.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei said the minimum wage would raise pay packets for half a million New Zealanders within three years.

A single person on the minimum wage would have $125 a week, or $6400 a year, more in the pocket under the policy.

A typical low-paid two-adult, two-child family would have $60 a week, or $3300, a year more because of the living wage, even after Working for Families abatements were taken into account.

''Employers will benefit from our policy, as staff who are paid fairly work harder and are more productive.''

Buried in the detail of the policy was the Greens requiring all New Zealand's large publicly-listed companies to report on the pay ratio between their highest paid staff member and their middle and lowest paid workers.

Labour Minister Simon Bridges said a Labour-Green coalition would mean less flexibility, fewer jobs and more roadblocks for businesses wanting to invest in growth.

Increasing the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, then to $18, would cost thousands of jobs, especially in small businesses and across regional New Zealand.

''They would scrap the starting-out wage which would mean young people would be given less opportunity to get a foot in the door and gain the essential experience they need.''