Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Proposed law to improve wages and conditions for low-paid workers

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

The E Tu Union is encouraging Pasifika communities to get behind the Fair Pay Agreements (FPA) bill which will raise incomes and improve working conditions for low-paid workers.

Under the FPA, workers can bargain for minimum pay and working conditions for an entire sector if they can gather the support of 10% of workers or 1000 employees. A public interest test can also be used to initiate the bargaining process.

Tala Taiamoni, a campaign organiser for E Tu, says many Pasifika workers work long hours to make ends meet, ultimately sacrificing time with their families.

“There’s no time for their children because they have to work so that they are able to afford to pay their bills and pay their rent,” she says.

E Tu member Dianne Fuka and E Tu campaign organiser Tala Taiamoni

Taiamoni adds that the legislation will stop ‘the race to the bottom’ where contractors compete for clients by offering lower service prices.

“They’re not going to bid for the highest. They’re going to bid for the lowest. Then when they get the contract, they will cut the hours, not only that but they will reduce the staff.

“I don’t want to see our community living in cars, I don’t want to see them on roads, I want to see them living in warm houses, and that’s why we are campaigning for this so that our people can have better money so that they can afford to do that.”

But there has been a backlash from the lobby group BusinessNZ, claiming that the bill is a breach of international labour laws.

Workers are throwing their support behind Fair Pay agreements (FPA), which will see income rises and improved working conditions for low-paid workers.

“Business people will still be rich, but our Pacific people and migrant people are still going to be poor, so we need to support the FPA,” Tala says.

Business NZ chief executive, Kirk Hope, says the legislation will put further pressure on business owners.

“Businesses lose their flexibility, sectors lose their flexibility to respond to circumstances, and we’ve already seen the necessity of that through covid,” he told 1News last year.

Last month, the International Labour Organisation dismissed their concerns after finding that the FPA was not inconsistent with international conventions. 

The bill is currently before the select committee and could become law before the end of the year.



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