Summary: BusinessNZ announced it’s pulling out of the government’s tripartite approach to creating Fair Pay Agreements with the CTU, saying the scheme was ‘unfair, unlawful and out of touch with modern ways of working’. Elsewhere, Pfizer said a third dose of its vaccine is needed to combat omicron and parents here are much more hesitant to vaccinate their kids. 

‘We’re out of here’ BusinessNZ confirmed this morning it was refusing to be the government’s nominated partner in implementing compulsory national pay agreements known as Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) in a tripartite arrangement with the government. It said it had formally rejected the government’s offer to be the default bargaining party for employers.

‘Here’s why’ BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope said compulsory FPAs were unlawful under local and international employment law and “totally out of step with how we need to work in 2021”. “They aren’t needed, they remove the flexibility and autonomy of modern workplaces, and won’t improve pay and conditions for hardworking Kiwis,” Hope said.

‘They wouldn’t listen’ Hope said BusinessNZ had repeatedly told the government FPAs were fundamentally flawed, but it had not listened. “After thoroughly reviewing the latest proposal, we’ve formally refused the government’s offer. It’s wrong for us to be part of a scheme that will do more harm than good to businesses and employees,” he said, adding it meant BusinessNZ had turned down $250,000 of government funding.

Dramatic shift in tone Hope’s comments represent a major worsening in the tone of discussions between the business community’s lead representative and the government. He and BusinessNZ worked closely with it and the CTU through covid to ensure a coordinated approach to the lockdowns and vaccination programmes. BusinessNZ has also been working in a tripartite way on social insurance, which is reported to be about to be unveiled. Kirk is known to have the ear of Labour’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ so the striking rejection and the tone of his comments is notable.

‘They wanted to go wider’ Hope said the government’s initial proposal targeted just a few occupations but had now widened to include any workplace. "FPAs are bad for business but worse for employees. If you want flexibility in your workplace to manage your lifestyle, you won’t be able to work that out with your employer anymore. You’ll need to ask someone in Wellington who knows nothing about your workplace or your needs,” Hope said.

Just one more dose Pfizer said overnight three doses of its vaccine gave 25 times more antibody protection against omicron than just two doses, as the new variant was able to sidestep some people with just two doses. (CNN, BBC)

Higher vaccine hesitancy A survey done for the government by Horizon found a third of parents or caregivers are either opposed or unsure about vaccinating their 5-12-year-olds, less than a month before the rollout begins. That’s three times above the hesitancy rate for adults for themselves. (NZ Herald)

Tricky little bugger Scientists identified a stealth version of omicron that can’t be distinguished from other variants using PCR tests. (Guardian

Money printing end date An FT-$$$ poll of fund managers found they expected the Fed to finish tapering by March, rather than June in previous polls. 

‘Oh no you don’t’ The United States wants to include a block on Nordstream 2 in potential sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine. It’s now pressuring Germany to allow that. (Reuters)

Elliott on way out? The Australian reports this morning, without named sourcing, that ANZ Group’s board is looking to replace NZ-born CEO Shayne Elliott early next year as rumours keep swirling of a merger with either Westpac or NAB or a takeover of Suncorp.

Taking a breather After nearly two weeks of extreme volatility, global stock and bond markets took a breather this morning. Stocks wobbled around their closing marks from yesterday and the US 10 year Treasury bond yield nudged up three basis points to 1.51%.

Stay at home again UK PM Boris Johnson has just announced a return to home working for those who can and the extension of a mandatory mask-wearing order to public places in new ‘Plan B’ restrictions to deal with a surge of covid cases in recent days. (Sky UK)

Fresh on BusinessDesk this morning

Oliver Lewis takes a deep dive into the future of KiwiRail. He has obtained the terms of reference of the review being carried out by Treasury and the Ministry of Transport.

Peter Griffin’s weekly column is on the unfinished business of outgoing Privacy Commissioner John Edwards, particularly around his concerns about Big Tech.

ICYMI yesterday

The NZX jumped 2.1% yesterday, joining the strong rally in global markets. (BusinessDesk)