Workers are well overdue a pay catch-up and 2015 will be a year where workers’ expectations of a decent rise will increase, the Council of Trade Unions said today.
Labour Cost Index statistics out today show that wages are up marginally over the past year at 1.7 per cent.
"The New Zealand economy is growing but real wages have not grown nearly as fast as they should have," said CTU Secretary Sam Huggard. "Simply, workers are not getting a fair share."
"We are also seeing mixed messages from the government, who on one hand are modelling for wage increases of over 3 per cent for coming years, but in the same breath are attempting to talk down expectations among public sector workers, who have already waited too long for a decent rise. Health care workers pay went up by only 0.7% in the last year, for example."
Many workers have had low pay increases or no pay increases at all in the last few years, Sam Huggard said.
"This is especially true for those without access to a union. Last year, while only 2% of people who came together to negotiate collectively didn’t get a payrise, over 50% of workers who had to go it alone on an individual agreement didn’t get a raise."
Sam Huggard said that the rise in unemployment in today’s figures was completely unacceptable.
"143,000 people are unemployed, up significantly on September. It is disturbing that the economy is not providing enough new jobs for those who want to work. New Zealand’s ranking in the OECD for unemployment has fallen from 9th to 10th despite the strong economic growth compared to other OECD countries."
The wider jobless figure is at 256,800, little different from a year ago (257,100), and lack of hours for workers remained a problem, he said.
"There are also still 112,800 part-timers who need more hours, and for thousands of these people the hours they have are not enough to make ends meet. For many workers, it is not just wage levels, but overall take home pay including the need for secure, reliable hours, that is the critical factor," Sam Huggard said.
For further comment:
Sam Huggard, Secretary, NZCTU, on 021 462 148