• Max Bradford

The Government today emphatically rejected the CTU's accusation that New Zealand is in breach of the ILO's minimum wage conventions (Conventions 26 and 99).

The CTU has asserted in a press release issued from Geneva that the ILO has criticised New Zealand's minimum wage record.

"The CTU is mischief-making. The ILO Committee of Experts, which has undertaken its regular view of the minimum wage conventions, was reacting to submissions made by the CTU. Neither is the Committee of the ILO - it is a low-level investigatory body," Labour Minister Max Bradford said from Geneva where he is attending 86th ILO Conference.

"The Committee's report is largely comprised of the CTU's litany of complaints, most of which have no substance in fact. In reacting to this, the Committee has asked the Government for further information and, with one exception, has not passed judgement on New Zealand's commitment to the ILO minimum wage convention. The only criticism, if you can call it that, was an observation that the number of labour inspectors was considered too low, but they have asked the Government for further information."

"In its report, the Committee did not pass judgement on the question of consultation with employee and employer organisations on setting the minimum wage. As is well known, the Minister of Labour is legally required to review the minimum wage annually and, in the process, consults widely with employer and employee organisations including the CTU."

"The CTU should know that there is an effective enforcement regime in place. The Department of Labour will always investigate complaints about whether the correct minimum wage is paid. In addition, employees or their representatives have access through the Employment Contracts Act to the Employment Tribunal if they believe an employee is not being paid the legal minimum wage. This enforcement machinery is more than most countries of the ILO have."

"The CTU's press release is simply part of its well-established pattern of using the ILO to criticise New Zealand's industrial relations system while their delegates are in Geneva each year. Unfortunately for them, the ILO does give plenty of opportunity for both employer, employee and Government representatives to have their say before any judgement is passed by the Governing Body of the ILO. That is the case here," said Mr Bradford.