Government’s phone off the hook to FPA concerns
March 25, 2022
Watch: In December, BusinessNZ announced it refuses to be part of the Governments FPA Scheme. BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope speaks about the refusal to be part of the unfair and unlawful scheme.
Video | Watch
The Government has taken its phone off the hook and is ignoring widespread opposition from New Zealand business owners and employees to its unlawful compulsory national pay agreements scheme, known as FPAs.
More than three months after BusinessNZ wrote to the Government withdrawing from acting for employers to implement the flawed scheme, the peak business organisation is still waiting on a reply.
BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope says the organisation wrote to Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood in December to express its deep concerns about the out-of-touch and out-of-date scheme, after the Government wrote BusinessNZ into the proposed system without its agreement.
Hope says BusinessNZ was flooded with messages of support for its stand against compulsory national pay agreements. "Kiwis don’t believe there is a need for the Labour government’s so-called ‘Fair Pay Agreements’ and don’t want their right to flexibility in the workplace to be taken away.
"However, the lack of response from the Government and comments they’ve made elsewhere make it clear they’re determined to plough on with FPAs, despite them being fundamentally flawed and out of touch with modern ways of working.
"It’s really disappointing that the Government hasn’t taken the summer break to reflect on the concerns of businesses big and small about FPAs and go back to the drawing board on this bad policy. These proposed compulsory national agreements should be scrapped.
"FPAs couldn’t come at a worse time than now as businesses face mounting pressure from runaway inflation, labour shortages, fast rising costs, supply chain issues and the Omicron response.
"How can the Government be so tone deaf to push ahead with the proposed scheme when neither employers nor employees want FPAs introduced? There really are no winners."
Mr Hope says the workplace environment has changed dramatically in the decades since New Zealand last used compulsory national agreements for wage bargaining and particularly over the past two years of Covid when workplace flexibility has come into sharp focus. During this time, BusinessNZ has been working closely with organisations to help them navigate their way through Covid-19.
"Implementing FPAs does not recognise the reality of modern workforces and the current environment in which they operate.
"Omicron and the way in which New Zealanders are now learning to live with the virus, means that employers and employees are now having to work together to ensure flexible working practices while meeting Covid-19 isolation requirements. FPAs would largely take away the ability to do this.
"At a time when workplaces practices are becoming more flexible not less, it’s hard to understand why the Government is determined to go backwards by introducing FPAs.
"With the Government refusing to listen to our concerns we’re committed to working alongside employers and employees right across the country to stop the introduction of compulsory FPAs.
"We will continue to fight on behalf of our members until the Government does what its own officials have recommended - scrap FPAs and focus on improving and strengthening the current system.
"MBIE have recommended that a better approach would be to introduce a limited set of sector-based minimum standards where a labour market problem has been established. We agree - instead of imposing an unnecessary FPA system across all industries, we are focused on achieving better outcomes for the Kiwis who most need them."
Mr Hope says that compulsory FPAs are unlawful under both current domestic and international employment laws and are totally out of step with how New Zealanders need to work, now and into the future.
"We are still hopeful that our position will prompt a re-think of the policy by the Government and that they will listen to the genuine concerns raised by BusinessNZ and the thousands of hardworking Kiwis about these unlawful compulsory national pay agreements," concluded Mr Hope.