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Gisborne businesses claim Fair Pay Agreements are unfair

Gisborne businesses have given a thumbs-down to proposed “Fair Pay Agreements” some say will drive them out of business. The Fair Pay Agreements Bill, now before a Parliamentary Select Committee, seeks to establish a framework for the bargaining of fair pay agreements. The government says the overarching policy objective is to enable employers and employees to collectively bargain industry-wide or occupation-wide minimum employment terms.

However, Business New Zealand says the bill does not deliver on that. The business advocacy group said in its submission on the bill: “Instead, it appears designed purely to give unions enormous sway over the wages and conditions of workers across New Zealand, whether or not those workers have any interest in having their conditions set by unions.”

They claim the legislation would establish “a cumbersome, labour-intensive, costly system of monumental complexity” and reinstate “the failed national occupational award system in existence between 1894 and 1991”.

Gisborne businesses that have submitted on the bill are on the same page in opposing it. Kiwifruit exporter Seeka pointed out the bill took no account of seasonal work. Its submission disputed the government's suggestions that the bill would prevent a “race to the bottom” in workers' wages.

“Particularly in the kiwifruit industry, we in fact see a race to the top. For example, the kiwifruit industry states wages are currently $18.01-$22.89. Seeka led the pay scale for the 2022 harvest and pays as a minimum $24 per hour for day shift ($22.75 plus harvest $1.25 per hour), or $26 per hour for night shift ($22.75 per hour plus harvest $1.25 and night shift allowance $2 per



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