Pay rise ought to be commended

August 17, 2016

Spark is  introducing a benchmark salary above which its staff are paid.

All non-commission full-time staff will earn at least $40,000 a year, and front-line commission employees who earn a lower base salary will earn an average of $42,000.

If compared to the current living wage of $19.80 an hour, $40,000 a year minimum falls short at $19.23 an hour.

Spark general manager of human resources Danielle George said the company wanted to “do the right thing” for its staff and attract the best talent, as well as contribute to turning New Zealand into a higher wage economy. . . 

“We have revised our entire value proposition, exploring how we can best deliver base pay and meaningful benefits, all designed to meet the needs of a very diverse workforce.”

The new Spark pay policy has benefited more than 250 staff who have received pay increases over the past two years to bring them up to the new level. . . 

That ought to be cause for commendation but the Council of Trade Unions’ Richard Wagstaff doesn’t think so:

“Their $40,000 salary that they’re promoting is actually a little under the living wage which doesn’t really inspire too much in terms of fair pay for people.”

Spark says the pay scheme is a commitment to a higher-wage economy, and once you take into account staff benefits, the overall package is better than the living wage.

“We want to do the right thing for our people and to attract the best people to a career in Spark,” says general manager of human resources Danielle George.

“If that sets a standard that encourages others to follow, that’s got to be a good thing for New Zealand.”

Benefits include credit towards Spark products and services, life and income insurance, flexible working arrangements and interest-free loans to buy company shares. . .

Spark is offering more than $4.00 an hour more than the minimum wage which is $15.25.

Paying that is a legal requirement and it’s reviewed each year, taking into account that increasing it could price some people out of jobs and threaten some businesses. The living wage is an artificial construct which takes no account of what’s affordable.

Another union, the PSA is praising three Wellington mayoral candidates who support the living wage:

The PSA held a forum for candidates which was attended by Justin Lester, Jo Coughlan, Helene Ritchie, Keith Johnson, Andy Foster, Nicola Young and Nick Leggett.

Mr Lester, Ms Ritchie and Mr Leggett confirmed they support the Living Wage for all council workers, including those employed through contractors and council-controlled organisations.

“We’re extremely pleased to hear three candidates plan to build on the good work already done by Wellington City Council towards making this a fairer city”, PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

“The PSA decided to hold this forum to hear from the candidates first-hand about their vision for Wellington – including their stance on local ownership of local services and privatisation.

“Wellington City Council has already taken great strides towards becoming New Zealand’s first accredited Living Wage council since it voted to do so in 2013.
“We know this has the backing of Wellington’s voters – what’s now needed is a mayor and a council that will deliver on the promises and finish the job.”

Do voters really support that and if they do, are they happy to be rated more to pay for it?

Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage takes no account of the value of work being done or the danger that some businesses couldn’t survive if they were forced to pay it.

It’s also based on what a vicar thinks a family of four needs to participate in society which ignores the fact that not everyone has to support a family of four on their wages, and if they do Working For Families would give them a generous top-up if they were on a low wage.

New Zealand isn’t a high-wage economy and that’s a weakness. But the solution is increased productivity and upskilling, not the job-threatening imposition of the so-called living wage.


Missing the point

January 13, 2014

The Council of Trade Unions has wants pre-employment drug testing for beneficiaries scrapped.

. . .  The pre-employment drug test policy, introduced in July last year, makes testing compulsory for some jobs.

The CTU said it should be scrapped after the ministry revealed it has no data on the amount of money saved by cutting the benefits of those who have failed the tests. . .

The CTU has been against this policy, introduced by National, from the start and this is just another excuse to oppose it.

But they’re missing the point of the policy.

Unemployed beneficiaries are supposed to be work-ready and someone who tests positive for drugs won’t be.

If the unions put their concern for workers ahead of their political allegiance to Labour they would get the point and also understand the danger workers under the influence of drugs could pose not just to themselves but to other workers.


Left don’t learn from history

October 10, 2012

The statistics on the youth unemployment rate are unequivocal – it increased far more steeply than rate for older adults when the youth minimum age was axed by Labour.

But have people and parties on the left learned from that? No.

Yesterday Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson announced a starting-wage for young people and immediately got this response:

Lower wages no solution – from the Council of Trade Unions.

Poverty pay won’t give young people skills or jobs – from the Service and Food workers Union.

More youth to pack for Australia – from  Hone Harawira.

National offers young workers a hefty pay cut – Metiria Turei.

And low wage no future at all from David Shearer.

None of these people have joined the dots between increasing the cost of employing young people and the sharp increase in the unemployment rate for that age group.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association has a far more positive view of the starting-wage:

Everyone concerned about our alarming rates of youth unemployment should be celebrating today’s announcement on the Starting-out wage, says David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

Then they will be looking out for more ways to help, he said.

“Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time,” Mr Lowe said.

“Though there is no silver bullet for creating jobs for young people, the Starting-out wage offers a vital first step up the employment ladder.

“Unless there is an incentive for taking on the added issues of employing youth workers, young people will continue to be over represented in the unemployment numbers.

“The Starting-out wage will restore a form of youth rates that were abolished in 2006 and which proved, as predicted, to hurt the very people its supporters were trying to help.

“Independent research from Pacheco at the time found job opportunities for youth would fall by nearly 20 per cent for all teenagers if youth rates were abolished, but that turned out to be very conservative.”

BusinessNZ also sees the starting-wage will benefit the economy and communities:

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says having to pay unskilled teenagers at adult rates makes it hard for many young people to get a job.

“Not being able to get that initial job prevents many young people from gaining workplace skills, further reducing their future employment chances.

“A starting-out wage at 80 per cent of the minimum wage for the first six months’ employment will make it easier to employ a young person so they can gain those vital workplace skills.”

Mr O’Reilly said the policy announced today would particularly benefit teenagers who were vulnerable to being trapped on a benefit through being unable to compete effectively for a first job.

Costings indicate that with accommodation and other applicable subsidies unaffected, a teenager on a starting-out wage would earn more than if on a benefit.

“Getting more young people into jobs – especially including those currently on a benefit – will benefit the economy and communities all through New Zealand,” Mr O’Reilly said.

If employers have to pay people the same rate they are almost always going to favour age and experience over youth and inexperience.

Enable them to pay younger people a bit less in recognition of the bigger investment required in training and the bigger risk with people with no work experience, and they will be more willing to take them on.


Speakers lets sun shine on access

July 26, 2012

Proving once more that sunlight is a good disinfectant, Speaker Lockwood Smith has released a list of members of the public who hold access cards to Parliament:

Dr Smith said that members of the public were only given approved visitor status if they had been security cleared and agreed to their names being public.

“The benefit of being an approved visitor is that the person does not have to be security screened each time he or she comes to Parliament. Instead, an approved visitor can access the public areas of Parliament through a security cleared entrance”, said Dr Smith.

 CARD HOLDERS
Name Organisation
Nicholas Albrecht Vector
Tim Clarke Russell McVeagh
Peter Conway Council of Trade Unions
Daniel Fielding Minter Ellison Rudd Watts
Charles Finny Saunders Unsworth
Helen Kelly Council of Trade Unions
Tony O’Brien Sky TV
Phil O’Reilly Business NZ
Leigh Pearson L.A. Pearson Limited
Barrie Saunders Saunders Unsworth
Mark Unsworth Saunders Unsworth
Jordan Williams Franks & Ogilvie
Rasik Ranchord Parliamentary Breakfast Group
 Philippa Falloon Former MP’s spouse
Lady Jane Kidd Former MP’s spouse

Striking on a political whim

October 19, 2010

The NBR reports:

Thousands of workers from Kaitaia to Bluff will stop work for two hours on Wednesday to attend union meetings protesting against the Government’s employment laws, says the Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

Imagine the chaos if employers, contractors and sole operators stopped work every time they disagreed with government policy.

It wouldn’t happen of course because these people can’t afford to stop work on a political whim. Funny how the people they pay, can.

Is it just coincidence the strike is being called by the CTU which played a big role at the Labour conference last weekend?

Is it another coincidence that they they didn’t strike at the many actions of the previous Labour-led government which compromised productivity and provided disincentives to employment?


CTU puts politics in front of jobs

July 30, 2010

The Council of Trade Unions is withdrawing its co-operation with the government on trade agreement  issues.

Helen Kelly, CTU President, said: “We have always raised our concerns – sometimes very strongly – about trade agreement negotiations in terms of tariff reductions, labour standards and other matters but we have also been prepared to work with government and business to promote the best possible outcome for New Zealand.”

“But now this Government has gone down a path which tries to compete with other countries through reducing fairness at work for New Zealand wage and salary earners.”

The Government had invited Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO (central union organisation in USA) to New Zealand and a visit was scheduled for early next year. This visit would have been significant for both countries. The CTU has agreed with the AFL-CIO that he should now not come given the attacks this Government has unleashed on wage and salary earners. It would be untenable for him to be here meeting a Government that stands against all he believes in.

Not surprisingly Trade Minister Tim Groser is unimpressed:

It is disappointing that the Council of Trade Unions has requested the United States union movement pulls its support for the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Trade Minister Tim Groser says.

“Negotiating new trade agreements is one part of the Government’s broad-based plan for faster growth and more jobs. The CTU’s moves against this particular trade opportunity are puzzling and could actually cost jobs,” Mr Groser says.

“It’s particularly disappointing that the CTU is prepared to put petty politics ahead of New Zealand’s economic and trade interests.

“New Zealand and New Zealanders stand to benefit substantially from further successful trade deals – particularly with large and influential economies such as the United States. These deals will help us create higher-paying jobs and enjoy better living standards.

“I’m therefore sure the CTU’s members will be keen to know why their organisation is, in effect, working against their own interests in such a way.”

Quite.

We are a tiny nation which depends on trade to fund and supply the many things we can’t grow and make ourselves.

We are at considerable disadvantage because of other countries’ restrictive trade practices.

They make our goods more expensive for overseas consumers and reduce returns to our producers which has a detrimental impact on our economy which in turn hampers opportunities for job creation and retention.

This government, and the previous one, put considerable effort into trade deals. The CTU’s petty politicking has just made that more difficult.


Smaller deficit not opportunity for loosening reins

July 13, 2010

A combination of lower spending and higher revenue in the 11 months to May resulted in a better-than-expected $4.74 billion operating deficit before gains and losses in the 11 months to May 31.

Finance Minister Bill English is sensibly saying this doesn’t change the government’s commitment to sound management of its finances and ongoing fiscal discipline.

Treasury expects revenue to come in close to forecasts for the full financial year ending June 30 and at least part of the lower spending track to be reversed in June.

“The Government has made good progress in keeping spending under control and delivering a faster-growing economy that will help grow our revenue.

“However, in many ways, restraint in the public sector is only just starting. We still have a significant medium-term challenge to get back to surplus as soon as possible. Budget forecasts show that will not happen until 2015/16 – but I would like us to be back into surplus sooner,” Mr English says.

“In our first two Budgets, the Government took early steps to bring deficits and government debt under control. We will build on that over the next few years by living within our $1.1 billion annual allowance for extra operating spending and weeding out lower priority spending.”

Some on the left, like the Council of Trade Unions, see this as an excuse to increase spending which doesn’t say much about their financial understanding.

The deficit may not be as bad as it was expected to be but it’s still worse than it ought to be and the need for fiscal rectitude hasn’t diminished.

Continued restraint now will speed the return to surpluses which are what we need for long term financial stability.


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