Fair Pay Agreements: Leaked Cabinet paper reveals Workplace Relations Minister Brooke van Velden at odds with official advice

Newshub has obtained a leaked Cabinet paper about the Coalition Government's plans to repeal Fair Pay Agreements.   

It reveals the move would disproportionately impact women, Māori and Pasifika and young people and shows the Workplace Relations Minister is at odds with official advice. 

The day Fair Pay Agreements were passed was a big day for workers, and scrapping the deals - dubbed FPAs - was a big campaign promise for National.  

They'll now be gone by Christmas as part of the coalition's 100-day plan.

"It's something that we opposed in Opposition as did the other parties in the coalition as well and it's something we want to push on and actually get repealed," said Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.   

But there's been a major leak about those plans. Newshub has obtained a Cabinet paper and advice from Treasury.  

The two papers show the Workplace Relations Minister - Brooke van Velden - is ignoring official advice.  

Treasury told the minister that women, young people, Māori and Pasifika people could have disproportionately benefited from FPAs. 

But van Velden told Cabinet that she did not believe a blunt tool like FPAs would have been successful.  

"We just don't believe that FPAs are actually good at creating good business environment and therefore good long-term certainty for good employees," said Luxon. 

Asked if he was worried that a Cabinet paper had been leaked, Luxon said he wouldn't get into it as he wasn't aware of it.   

Bus drivers, hospitality workers, security guards, cleaners, early childhood workers and supermarket staff have all had FPAs already approved and on the whole, FPAs were expected to boost wages by up to $600 million a year.

"There's hundreds of thousands of workers and the official advice we're talking about is hundreds of millions of dollars would have been lost from them," said Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff.   

The leaked Treasury advice did say some employers stand to benefit from repealing FPAs as they now face "lower wage costs".  

Van Velden also told her Cabinet colleagues there had been consultation with the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ, while Treasury said there had been "no consultation".  

But while Newshub's confirmed Business NZ was consulted, the unions weren't. 

"It reveals a lot about the character and the priorities of this Government," said Wagstaff 

"In a cost of living crisis that they said they're going to resolve, they're deliberately going after the wages and conditions of poor and vulnerable workers."

Labour's workplace relations spokesperson Camilla Belich added the plan to scrap FPAs will leave New Zealand's lowest-paid workers worse off.

"Instead of helping people with the cost of living like National promised during the campaign, they're taking away the opportunity of fair wages, pay and conditions right before Christmas," she told Newshub.

"I call on Christopher Luxon to scrap his plans to hurt workers and do the right thing."

Luxon said the Government doesn't believe the FPAs add value. He said they add costs to businesses, leading to higher inflation.   

Inflation may be a major concern for Luxon but he's now got a new one, leaks.