Big pay rises rare for workers: Hays

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 15:03 18/06/2014
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WORKING HARD: The Hays survey of 2500 employers in NZ and Australia found business owners were optimistic about growth.

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Kiwi employers are thriving, but the benefits are not being passed on to employees, a salary survey shows.

The Hays survey of 2500 employers in New Zealand and Australia found that business owners were optimistic about growth and employees were working harder than ever, but few workers would see generous pay increases.

More than 80 per cent of employers expected an increase in business activity this year, and 80 per cent said the economy was strengthening.

Over the past year, however, more than 70 per cent of employers had kept wage increases below 3 per cent, and 8 per cent had not increased wages at all.

For the coming year, 70 per cent of employers indicated that they would keep their pay increase offerings below 3 per cent.

Just 4 per cent would give pay rises of more than 6 per cent.

Employees were working harder, with an increase in overtime across 33 per cent of businesses.

Of these, 43 per cent were adding more than five hours of overtime a week, and 57 per cent of non-union staff were not being paid for their overtime.

Nearly 80 per cent of New Zealand workers are not in unions.

FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid said workers were "absolutely not" benefiting from employers' business success.

"We are finding it just as hard to negotiate decent wage increases now as we did three or four years ago when New Zealand was coming out of the global financial crisis," he said.

"We joke that we hear on one level about a rock star economy, that profitability is up, but when you go into negotiations you get the complete opposite view.

"We have to drag it out of employers kicking and screaming."

Amid reports of a "rock star economy", Finance Minister Bill English said in January that Kiwis should expect pay rises this year after years of belt-tightening.

"A lot of households will be looking for benefits through more job security, which they haven't had [and] through pay rises, which households haven't had much of through the last three or four years," he said.

"So yeah, they have a right to expect to see some of the benefits."

Reid said: "Even to get modest wage increases, workers are having to turn to industrial action."

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