Labour is being urged to deliver on its promise for a controversial new type of employment agreement, more than nine months after a working group delivered its report.
Ahead of its conference in Wellington on Tuesday, the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has released a new report on Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs), a proposed type of sector-wide agreement which was promised by Labour in its 2017 election manifesto.
Richard Wagstaff, president of the CTU said the latest report outlined key aspects of FPAs, but the main purpose was to draw attention to the issue, rather than present something new.
"We thought it was important to put something out there to fill any void and keep it on the agenda," Wagstaff said, adding that he did not know why the Government had not responded to the working group, of which he was a member.
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FPAs would cover all of the workers in a given sector, setting standards above legal minimums. Unions claim the agreements will prevent a 'race to the bottom' where companies in certain sectors compete on price by cutting the conditions of vulnerable workers.
The working group report recommended that one in ten workers in a particular sector could trigger the negotiation process as well as there being a public interest test.
If unions and industry representatives could not reach a deal the process would go to arbitration, with the final agreement covering all workers and employers covered.
A working group headed by former prime minister Jim Bolger delivered its report in December and Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway released the report in January.
However the Government is still to provide its response.
The CTU's call for progress on FPAs seems unlikely to be successful.
It is understood that Lees-Galloway's office is preparing for the release of a new consultation document on FPAs. Expected to be released this month, the paper is not expected to include an agreed Government position or commmitment to a particular course of action.
FPAs have attracted strong opposition from BusinessNZ and regional chamber of commerce organisations, while the National Party claims the agreements would represent a return to the industrial relations of the 1970s.
While a majority of the working group members supported FPAs being compulsory on all employers in a sector, employer representatives on the group refused to support the recommendations.
Wagstaff said the idea that the agreements should not be compulsory was "nonsense".
The Government has acknowledged concerns about the proposed changes.
In 2018 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern highlighted FPAs as one of the reasons that businesses felt uncertain about the coalition.
In a speech in August aimed at improving the corporate mood, Ardern said there would be "no more than one or two" agreements struck in this term of Government.
Wagstaff said the statement suggested FPAs would be completed by next year however there were growing doubts this would be possible.
"That is looking increasingly unlikely and that is disappointing," Wagstaff said.
"We will find it most unsatisfactory if they don't deliver on what was quite an important promise and commitment.
"For us this is front and centre of a major change in employment relations that needs to happen."
National's workplace relations spokesman Todd McClay called for the Government to simply drop the proposed agreements.
"This is one election promise where I think the public would be happy for the Government to break it," McClay said.
"It's obvious that the Government is quite worried the effect of these 70s-style agreements will have on their polling and popularity, and it's obvious that they are now slow-playing this policy so there isn't time to implement these agreements or start these negotiations before the election."