CTU rates political parties on work policies

October 1, 2020

The Green Party has emerged on top in a Council of Trade Unions’ (CTU) assessment of the five major political parties’ industrial relations policies.

The five parties – Labour, National, Green, ACT and New Zealand First (NZF) – were rated on the CTU’s six priority areas to improve the lives of working people:

  • safer sick leave
  • fair pay agreements
  • four weeks’ minimum redundancy
  • better health and safety at work
  • stronger public services
  • living wages for all
Richard Wagstaff
CTU president Richard Wagstaff

CTU president Richard Wagstaff said the parties’ answers were marked on whether they would take action for working people, and each had been given a grade based on that assessment. The Green Party achieved A+, Labour A, NZF B+, National E and ACT F.

The Greens and Labour are both committed to increasing minimum sick leave entitlements from five to 10 days a year, while NZF and National were unsure. The Greens, Labour and NZF would remove the six-month stand down period for sick leave when starting a new job, while National would not.

The Greens, Labour and NZF all support legislation to introduce fair pay agreements (FPAs), while National opposes them, claiming they would have a negative impact on business and jobs.

The Greens would improve minimum redundancy entitlements, NZF was unsure and National would not. Labour did not answer the question directly but said it was adopting a “tripartite approach” on future work issues, “including how people transition through the labour market in times of change”.

NZF and the Greens would increase funding to WorkSafe and the Greens and Labour would ensure funding for health and safety (H&S) worker representatives in all workplaces. National was unsure about increasing funding to WorkSafe and Labour pointed to its $57 million investment in WorkSafe over four years. All these four parties supported changing the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015 to better protect workers’ mental health and all supported a review of the act.

These four parties all supported more investment in public services, with the Greens wanting “stable funding” for the community sector, particularly for services provided by Māori.

National wants “sensible and restrained” public spending, but would not introduce austerity measures.

Labour, the Greens and NZF supported a living wage for all, while National did not.

ACT did not respond to the CTU survey but sent links to relevant policies. From reviewing these policies, the CTU said ACT was opposed to increasing sick leave, to FPAs, better redundancy entitlements and the living wage for all.

ACT claims the HSWA is “weighted against small business employers”.

It would freeze the current minimum wage for three years and re-introduce 90-day trial periods for all new hires.

In terms of increasing investment in public services, ACT said it would cut “wasteful spending of more than $7.6 billion”, introduce tax cuts of $3.1 billion and reduce the 30 per cent tax rate to 17.5 per cent.

Wagstaff encouraged people, when voting, to think about what work should look like in the future.