The Council of Trade Unions welcomes the direction signaled by Minister of Finance and the approach of respond, recover and rebuild so that New Zealand absolutely can ‘Be the country we have always said we want to be’.
CTU Economist Andrea Black, completely agrees with the Minister and the government, that New Zealand society faced a number of shortcomings before COVID. “Namely poverty (including child poverty), low quality and expensive housing, and that too many people are working harder and not getting ahead. We absolutely agree that inequality, productivity and climate change are key challenges for New Zealand to address. The Future of Work has arrived.”
“The CTU on behalf of all working people looks forward to the rebuilding of our social infrastructure as well as our physical infrastructure. Social infrastructure is the bedrock that physical infrastructure and financial activity rests on. It’s focus is on keeping us healthy, nurtured, and able to reach our potential as human beings.
In practical terms this means that we need to see:
1. Rebuilding of the health social infrastructure – needing $2.5 billion just to bridge the funding gap since 2010, managing the health backlog and providing for mental health given expected increased unemployment and poverty
2 Turbo charging training as part of an active labour market to meet current shortages and set us up for the future. In particular ensuring that women have access and training to the trades and professions that will be underpinning the increase in physical infrastructure
3. Social insurance to provide liveable incomes to people who lose their jobs while they train or look for new ones
4. Teacher shortages to be addressed
5. Social service NGOs to have lost philanthropic funding replaced
6. Pathways for essential workers to be earning at least a living wage
7. Benefits to be raised to liveable levels and based on individual, not household, income
“We also need to see an increase in Labour and WorkSafe inspectors to help ensure that people at work are safe and have their rights protected, this is especially an issue in worksites which do not have collective agreements and union membership.”
“These steps all need to be taken to help with the increased numbers of Kiwis expected to be out of work a well as these steps making New Zealand a better place for all,” Black said.