Collectively.Thinking – March 2023

Mar 31, 2023

The collective bargaining environment in New Zealand is definitely changing.  The first quarter of negative GDP has now been posted, which is unsettling on both sides of the table.  While it is a shallow negative, at -0.6%, it does signal what could be coming.  As a county, we are still relying heaving on the labour market to keep this propped up, but indicators are that even this is starting to turn.

Only a couple of noteworthy events in March, summarised below, with links included, for your light reading.

1.  Teachers take action

50,000 primary, secondary and kindergarten teachers & principals across the country took one full day withdrawal of labour, across all five agreements currently under negotiation with the Ministry of Education.  Teachers have rejected a $6000 pay rise over two years and, for primary teachers, $1300 in one-off payments and 15 more hours per term of classroom release time.  Only secondary school principals have accepted the ministry’s offer, which for them was a $4000 pay rise plus a further 3 percent at the end of this year and a $6000 wellbeing allowance.

Action by PPTA Secondary Teachers is still ongoing, with plans to escalate in Term Two.

2. Community Corrections Officers to strike

1,900 PSA members who work in Community Probation Services for the Department of Corrections have voted to take industrial action in April.  The offer of 4.7% in the first year and 3% in the second year has been rejected.

3. Fair Pay Agreements Progress

The first Fair Pay application has made it through the assessment stage and now has approval to initiate bargaining and form parties.  The bus drivers, coach drivers and cleaners could become the first group of people to achieve an industry-wide agreement.  Security guards have also now met the 1000 signature threshold and put their application forward, with E tū taking the lead.

4. Labour Market

In contrast to the sharp drop in consumer confidence, people’s feelings about the job market still remain positive.  The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose by 1.5 points to 109.5 in the three months to March.  While the labour market remains stretched, there are signs starting to appear that we have reached the peak.

On the other hand, Business New Zealand have commissioned a piece of research that suggests that the country will be short of a quarter of a million workers in 25 years’ time.  They are appealing for stable immigration policies to enable more diverse populations to come into the workforce.

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