NEWS

 

Thursday 6th April 2017

PRESS RELEASE - MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE TO $7

 

The Chamber of Commerce conducted an on-line survey of employers. Previous surveys conducted by the Chamber had received and received responses from 80+ companies across most industry sectors, with approximately 20% coming from the Pa Enua, notably Aitutaki. However, on this occasion, doubtless due to time constraints, responses were only received from 37 companies. While the response rate does not constitute a statistically rigorous survey, there were consistent trends which allowed qualitative inferences to be drawn from the results, particularly including from the comments sections of the survey.
 

Of those employers polled, 95% paid all their employees above the minimum wage, 84% paid all above $6.50, and 78% paid all their employees above $7.50. 84% said that a 25c increase in the minimum wage would have no impact on their business, 75% said a 25c or 50c increase would have no impact, 62% would not be impacted by a $1.00 increase and 46% would experience no impact from a $2.00 increase.

 

When asked what employers thought the minimum wage should be, 8% favoured the current rate of $6.25, while 92% favoured an increase. Of these, 8% wanted to see $6.50, 8% wanted $6.75, 30% wanted $7.00, 5% wanted $7.50, 16% wanted $8.00, and 24% wanted various higher rates.

The vast majority of private sector employers have few if any employees on the minimum wage, and most pay $7/hour and above. Most employers favour an increase in the minimum wage, either by way of a regular, modest annual increase, or a fairly substantial increase now. There was clear support for the minimum wage keeping at the very least abreast of inflation.

 

Most felt that a modest increase of 10-50 cents would have little or no negative impact on their businesses. A substantial number indicated positive impact from an increase, including increased productivity, easier recruitment and improved staff retention.

 

The Chamber initially recommended an increase for 2017 to $6.75, on the basis that we had previously recommended a 25c/year increase, and it has been 2 years since the last increase (to $6.25). However, the eventual consensus (negotiated by representatives of employers/employees/community/government) was that, on that basis, minimum wage earners had missed out on 25c/hour for the last 12 months. Therefore an increase now to $7 would redress the delay.

 

Therefore $7 became the consensus recommendation to the Minister, which he agreed and passed to Cabinet.

 

 

Monday, 27 March 2017

PRESS RELEASE - WORKERS COMPENSATION: 

The Chamber of Commerce has taken an interest in the operation and implementation of the Worker’s Compensation scheme for many years and there is no doubt that workers need insurance cover for accidental injury or death.

 

However, employers have a great number of concerns.

  The existing scheme arises from the very outdated Workers Compensation Ordinance 1964. The Chamber agrees with Internal Affairs that the ordinance needs to be “reviewed to adjust process and rates to reflect more modern times”.

  The Chamber was very concerned when, in 1995/6 the government abstracted almost

$2 million from the
Worker’s Compensation Fund to pay for unrelated activities.
From the chamber’s perspective, this has fatally undermined employers’ confidence in the integrity of the fund. The chamber has not seen any evidence that this money was ever restored (with interest) to the fund.
  The Chamber has further issues: 
• The National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) currently runs a compulsory life insurance scheme, which covers all workers in the country. This insurance overlaps with the Worker’s Compensation Scheme, and is an unnecessary duplication of cost for all concerned.
  •Internal Affairs is not resourced to run a Worker’s Compensation Scheme, which is more in the nature of an Insurance Scheme. Anecdotally, there are numerous accounts of unfortunate outcomes from the existing scheme.
  • The premiums being charged bear no resemblance to the reality of insurance costs and appear extremely arbitrary. For example, the premium for port workers is 40 times higher than that for office workers - an entirely unrealistic amount.
So:
• The fund has been mismanaged by government in the past. 
• It is acknowledged by Internal Affairs to be outdated and in need of review. 
• It has unrealistic premiums. 
• And it is still (we understand) owed capital and/or interest from government.
• It has understandably not had universal enforcement in decades for these reasons. 
  The proposed review is well overdue, and the chamber supports such a review if it is open to all stakeholders and would then be providing submissions to it.
The Chamber is strongly of the view that the Worker’s Compensation Fund should be transferred to CINSF’s existing insurers providing life cover for workers. As professionals in this field they are much better placed to administer a scheme properly and impartially, with realistic market premiums and transparent processes.
The Chamber and its members would have confidence in such professional insurers and their management and stewardship of premiums. 
  In fact, were the balance of the existing Worker’s Compensation Fund (and particularly the approximately $2 million reimbursement from government) to be paid to the CINSF Insurers, there might not be a need for any increase in life insurance premiums at all to cover accident compensation. It would be useful for an independent review to take a look at this and to make a determination.    
  Meanwhile the Chamber finds it absurd that Internal Affairs would embark on a belated campaign of enforcement of a scheme which everyone acknowledges is flawed and just when a long-overdue review is imminent. 
  The Chamber’s recommendation to all concerned is to get on with an inclusive review, reform the scheme, and put it under professional management.
Only then will employers have the confidence to fund it.

Worker’s Compensation Fund to pay for unrelated activities.

From the chamber’s perspective, this has fatally undermined employers’ confidence in the integrity of the fund. The chamber has not seen any evidence that this money was ever restored (with interest) to the fund.

  The Chamber has further issues: 

• The National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) currently runs a compulsory life insurance scheme, which covers all workers in the country. This insurance overlaps with the Worker’s Compensation Scheme, and is an unnecessary duplication of cost for all concerned.

  •Internal Affairs is not resourced to run a Worker’s Compensation Scheme, which is more in the nature of an Insurance Scheme. Anecdotally, there are numerous accounts of unfortunate outcomes from the existing scheme.

  • The premiums being charged bear no resemblance to the reality of insurance costs and appear extremely arbitrary. For example, the premium for port workers is 40 times higher than that for office workers - an entirely unrealistic amount.

So:

• The fund has been mismanaged by government in the past. 

• It is acknowledged by Internal Affairs to be outdated and in need of review. 

• It has unrealistic premiums. 

• And it is still (we understand) owed capital and/or interest from government.

• It has understandably not had universal enforcement in decades for these reasons. 

  The proposed review is well overdue, and the chamber supports such a review if it is open to all stakeholders and would then be providing submissions to it.

The Chamber is strongly of the view that the Worker’s Compensation Fund should be transferred to CINSF’s existing insurers providing life cover for workers. As professionals in this field they are much better placed to administer a scheme properly and impartially, with realistic market premiums and transparent processes.

The Chamber and its members would have confidence in such professional insurers and their management and stewardship of premiums. 

  In fact, were the balance of the existing Worker’s Compensation Fund (and particularly the approximately $2 million reimbursement from government) to be paid to the CINSF Insurers, there might not be a need for any increase in life insurance premiums at all to cover accident compensation. It would be useful for an independent review to take a look at this and to make a determination.    

  Meanwhile the Chamber finds it absurd that Internal Affairs would embark on a belated campaign of enforcement of a scheme which everyone acknowledges is flawed and just when a long-overdue review is imminent. 

  The Chamber’s recommendation to all concerned is to get on with an inclusive review, reform the scheme, and put it under professional management. Only then will employers have the confidence to fund it.

 

Thu, 19th January, 2017

Chamber welcomes New Zealand High Commissioner
The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce hosted a dinner to meet and welcome the New Zealand High Commissioner to the Cook Islands HE Peter Marshall and Mrs Pamela Marshall
at BAMBOO JACKS, TUPAPA. Chamber of Commerce members, intending members, and numerous members of the business community attended, and heard Mr Marshall speak on his previous experiences in the Pacific and beyond, and the ongoing relationship between New Zealand and the Cook Islands


Thu, 1st December, 2016
New Zealand Business Champion speaks at Chamber event
One of New Zealand’s top business advisors and leaders was in Rarotonga at the beginning of December. Michael Barnett is the current Chief Executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is also a director of both the Auckland and New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He has been in his present role for 26 years. Mr Barnett addressed a
 Chamber event held at the Edgewater’s Umu Hut on Thursday 1st December at 5.00pm, which was open to both members and non-members.

 

Link to Auckland Chamber of Commerce Resources

The Auckland Chamber of Commerce website has a large library of resources for businesses and professionals. Publications are available free-of-charge to assist with business startups, recruitment, business plans, debt collection, share issues and much more. While NZ-centric, these provide valuable information for the private sector. Browse to our Publications page here. 

 

We extend our acknowledgement and thanks to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

 

Mon, 29th August 2016

The Business Mentors completed a week's engagement with dozens of local businesses. Thanks to Janet, Bruce, DD and Terry.

 

2016 Annual Reports

The 2016 Annual Reports are available on our website here

 

2016 Annual General Meeting

The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce conducted its 2016 Annual General Meeting on 23rd August 2016, and the 2016/17 Office Bearers are listed on our Membership page

 

 

Ground Floor, BTIB Building, Ruatonga, Rarotonga, Cook Islands    |    PO Box 242, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

T: +682 20925    |    E: chamber@commerce.co.ck    |    www.cookislandschamber.org