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Unions urge Ardern to move on industrial relations reform

The leader of New Zealand's union movement is urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to get on with industrial reforms, warning that she risks falling short on an election promise.

Richard Wagstaff will be re-elected as president of the NZ Council of Trade Unions at the peak body's biennial conference tomorrow.

He has put two issues at the top of his agenda: gender equity and the introduction of Fair Pay Agreements (FPAs) similar to Australian employment awards.

While heartened by progress to close the wage gap, Mr Wagstaff is yet to see action on FPAs, with security, retail and cleaning industries earmarked for their introduction.

Jacinda Ardern. Source: 1 NEWS

The Labour-led coalition's working group, chaired by former National prime minister Jim Bolger, tabled its report into the reintroduction of a bargaining system last year.

Today, the NZCTU released another report showing their support of the FPAs, all with a message to Ms Ardern that "we need to get on with it".

"The prime minister talked about two being down by the time of the election. That's looking like an unrealistic target now and when she announced that it sounded modest," he told AAP.

"We do understand that things can't happen overnight but we do need to get some runs on the board.

"We have a very strong relationship with the government. We have a high regard for the PM and we really like her values of wellness. They're great.

"We just need to get some concrete stuff done."

The delay has caused concerns within the union movement that the reforms may have slipped down Ms Ardern's pecking order.

The prime minister will have a chance to address the conference tomorrow afternoon, which, Mr Wagstaff says, gives her a chance to reaffirm the role of the union movement as a pivotal part of her government's platform.

"I would like her to confirm that she understands our agenda is central to the government's agenda too, that better work, better support for unions is part of her plan for a better New Zealand," he said.

The theme of the conference is Getting Our Fair Share.

"We want to raise people's consciousness and understanding about the inherent unfairness in the economy and and debate about workers rights," Mr Wagstaff continued.

"When we say 'getting our fair share', yes, that is the economy in dollars and cents terms. We're also talking about our fair share of time, our fair share of influence in board rooms."

Richard Wagstaff of the Council of Trade Unions. Source: 1 NEWS