19 Apr 2012

Cheaper labour should not be drawcard - CTU

11:48 am on 19 April 2012

The Council of Trade Unions fears Australian companies are shifting jobs to New Zealand for cheap labour, rather than the reasons this country should be promoting.

Over the past couple of months, Heinz Australia, Woolworths and Imperial Tobacco have all announced they will be cutting jobs in Australian and moving them to New Zealand.

Finance Minister Bill English says the Government would never discourage investment as that only limits job opportunities and pushes wages down.

He says it wants to help businesses making the move to New Zealand, not drive them away.

Mr English has suggested before that New Zealand's lower wages could be a way of competing with Australia.

The three companies say they're relocating the jobs to streamline operations, and because of the exchange rate, making no mention of cheap labour.

CTU secretary Peter Conway told Nine to Noon that New Zealand's good education system and the environment should be drawcards, not relaxed labour laws.

Mr Conway says Australian and New Zealand companies should be competing as though it is a shared market, which would generate more jobs and better wages.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule expects Heinz and other vegetable companies to bring more Australian-based jobs to his region over the coming years because of the good growing environment.

He dismisses the speculation about low wages, saying if the Australian companies were attracted by cheap labour they'd move operations to China.