Tuesday, 19 February 2019 11:02

Fair pay rules may lead to strikes – Feds

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Current Fed dairy chair Chris Lewis and former chair Willy Leferink. Current Fed dairy chair Chris Lewis and former chair Willy Leferink.

Dairy farmers are concerned about the Government’s fair pay working group recommendations, says Feds dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Lewis told the Feds dairy council meeting in New Plymouth last week that the compulsory nature of the proposed fair pay agreements and the risk of industrial action and productivity loss are key concerns for the industry. 

It would be compulsory for business to accept the new wage rate once it was negotiated for that position, Lewis told about 40 people at the two-day meeting.

“What if staff strike during calving; who would look after the cows?” he asked.

“Sounds outrageous? Staff would never strike during the peak part of the season.... That’s how unions hold power over the employers. Just ask our dairy companies how the unions have used this in the past.”

The Government’s fair pay working group, led by former National Prime Minister Jim Bolger, has made 46 recommendations to the Government which it says will help end the ‘race to the bottom’ in wages.

It has also reported on the design of a fair pay agreement system which it says would set minimum standards for industries or occupations.

The Minister of Workplace Relations, Iain Lees-Galloway, is now considering the group’s recommendations, which address the initiation of bargaining, coverage of the agreements, their scope and the bargaining process for negotiations.

One recommendation, on collective bargaining, suggests workers should be able to initiate a fair pay-agreement bargaining process if they can meet a minimum threshold of 1000 people, or 10% of workers in the nominated sector or occupation, whichever is lower.

Lewis says dairy farmers are all for fair pay.

“Also, we promote career progression, where you start at the bottom of the ladder, you increase your skills and knowledge, and work your way up through the industry, getting rewarded with more pay and a better job title along with responsibility,” he says.

“The good staff make it to sharemilker or farm manager roles and then have an eye on land ownership.”


More like this

MPI’s behaviour on M. bovis beastly

Farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis need help and support, but MPI treats them as guilty parties, claims Mid-Canterbury Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Ford.

Climate change consultation was ‘a farce’

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven believes animal numbers would have to be effectively halved to meet the 2050 target set by the Government's new Zero Carbon Amendment Bill.

No choice but to cull

Only by culling cows would New Zealand achieve the methane emission targets set by the Government unless there was a major breakthrough in science, says Federated Farmers national vice-president Andrew Hoggard.

Cheer up already, farmers!

The dumping of capital gains tax initiatives is yet another issue going right for the farming community – and farmers should cheer up, says Federated Farmers economics spokesperson and national vice-president Andrew Hoggard.


» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Lord help us

It's no wonder your canine crusader rolls his eyes whenever he hears about public servants developing new ideas.


Your old mate reckons plenty of the current crop of MPs in Parliament would struggle to read, let alone make laws for…


» Connect with Rural News