web analytics

Fairness at work and a living wage

Written By: - Date published: 11:57 am, July 21st, 2013 - 7 comments
Categories: class war, Economy, employment, health and safety, minimum wage, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Fairness at work

In the United Kingdom as in New Zealand there is a developing debate about the need for a living wage.  The Guardian has reported that the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has condemned the low wages of millions of Britons as a “national scandal” and  said that businesses have ignored a moral duty to ensure that all employees are paid enough to live on.

In comments that match the debate that has occurred in New Zealand he states that it is both morally and economically wrong for government to give tacit approval to an approach that lands the state with a huge bill to top up the incomes of the lowest earners.

“The holes in millions of pay cheques are being plugged by in-work support to the tune of £4bn a year. But why aren’t those who are profiting from their workers paying up? Why is government having to subsidise businesses who don’t pay their employees enough to live on? It is a question we need to answer and act on – fast. The cost of living is rising but wages are not. In the rush for profit, and for high pay at the top, too many companies have forgotten the basic moral imperative that employees be paid enough to live on.”

And why are companies unable to pay a living wage?  It seems locally that there is a race to the bottom and adoption of a brutal economic system where cheapest is best and health and safety concerns are irrelevant.  This week another forestry worker lost his life while on the job.  The Masala chain of restaurants in Auckland has been accused of widespread abuse of underpaid immigrant workers.  There is ongoing concern at the use of migrant workers on farms.  And a local fishing company has required the understanding of the Russian language in a locally advertised job application even though the ship is to fish in New Zealand waters.

The Government is doing its best to make things worse.  As Helen Kelly has said “life is hard enough for many Kiwis at the moment. One of the main problems is that wages are just too low. But the government continues to push through laws that will make it worse for workers. That is why we are strongly opposing recently proposed employment law changes.”

Clearly the Trade Union movement poses a threat to these developments and must be undermined at all costs.  The Employment Relations Amendment Bill is the Government’s latest attempt to do this.  But embarrassingly for the Government a recently released Cabinet Paper states that it is likely that the bill breaches  International Labour Organisation conventions.  The paper records that the 60 day grace period following failed negotiations during which no further negotiations can be initiated is likely to be a breach of  the ILO convention supporting collective bargaining.  Because strike action would be prohibited during this time the paper states that the bill is likely to be also seen as inconsistent with ILO conventions on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise.

Simon Bridges thought that the breaches “may not be significant”.  It is bizarre that a right wing politician who worships the rule of law thinks that breaches of legal obligations can be trivialised in such a way.

Whatever the status of the proposed law changes it appears to be more and more likely that the claim that John Key would love to see wages drop is true.

7 comments on “Fairness at work and a living wage”

  1. maleka 1

    good article…

  2. McFlock 2

    It is bizarre that a right wing politician who worships the rule of law thinks that breaches of legal obligations can be trivialised in such a way.

    Not bizarre at all – on Planet Key (Bridges occupies a guest cottage there) “rule of law” has an irregular verb: I made an insignifant deviation in the paperwork, you managed to limit your financial exposure in an unconventional way, and beneficiaries blatantly and with aggravating premeditation chose to steal funds from hard-working NewZealanders rather than get a job.

    He’s perfectly consistent, the smarmy fuckwit.

    • Tim 2.1

      Having just read the post – my immediate thought was the same i.e. that Bridges worships the rule of law!
      No!! that “smarmy fuckwit” is only concerned about how existing law can be manipulated, and if he can’t see an easy way to, then it needs changing.

      As we’ve been discussing on Open Mike re immigrant labour – it really is short short short term thinking, and self-defeating at that.
      (What’s become of Key’s last little Sth. American jaunt btw? Anything substantial yet?).

      Maybe what’s needed is to start using the very same narrative and language as is being used against ‘workers’, immigrants et al.
      Unions = bad
      Associations and Federations = good.
      just as
      immigrants arriving by air = good
      immigrants arriving by boat = bad

      How about an Employees Federation and a United Employees Association or an Employees Chamber of Commerce. Maybe even a Federation of Economic Equity. A roundtable or two wouldn’t go amiss

      We’ve been fed a crock of shit, and quite frankly a good many people have swallowed it, not the least of whom are the MSM. Strange really, since it won’t be long before many of their ilk may soon be suffering more cutbacks (as anyone who listened to this morning’s Mediawatch will realise: automated MSM inclusion of offshore-generated ‘articles’ to fill space). Cudda Shudda Wudda.

      I’ll be really interested to see what Key/Joyce’s next ‘trade mission’ brings about. My bet is that they are going to be very surprised if they hang around long enough.

  3. John Ryall 3

    Spot on post.

    These ERA amendments are driven by the business class who have no moral compass beyond their own bottom lines, no future thinking beyond what profits they can make today and a belief that all beneficiaries of the state should be condemned except themselves.

    During the early part of the 20th century when New Zealand income and wealth inequalities were at the dizzy heights they have reached today, worker marched under banners which said “If blood is the price of your wretched wealth, we have bought it fair”.

    Looking at the legislation that the Government has introduced to reduce workplace rights and cut reduce wages, I think this slogan has regained its importance.

  4. Yes 4

    Out ogf interest in you introduced living wage would you stop working for family credit if living wage or minimum wage was 20.00

    [lprent: If Yes is a experiment in AI (as has been suggested), then it is pretty clear that it is a bit short of cores and has failed. Ignoring the spelling mistakes (“ogf” == “of”) and the irritating phone/tablet auto-typo (“in” == “if”). It still doesn’t make any sense. I can see why the more intelligent auto-moderator put it in the moderation queue. ]

    [ms: I thought I would let it through because the quality of the typing matched the quality of the argument …]

  5. srylands 5

    There are some pretty big problems with a “living wage”. The ratio of minimum to median wage is already very high in NZ.

    http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DatasetCode=MIN2AVE

    Until we can lift productivity I would reduce minimum wages to get this ratio down to at least the Australian ratio in the attached table. That means a minimum wage of $11 per hour. It would boost employment and improve incentives to work.

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • IRD had foreign trusts review on action plan
    The IRD was so ready to review foreign trusts it had the review on its action plan in November 2014, just before the Revenue Minister met with John Key’s lawyer, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The IRD… ...
    31 mins ago
  • IRD had foreign trusts review on action plan
    The IRD was so ready to review foreign trusts it had the review on its action plan in November 2014, just before the Revenue Minister met with John Key’s lawyer, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The IRD… ...
    31 mins ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Māori
    I wrote this blogpost sitting in Parliament listening to the Attorney General’s first reading speech on the Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Redress and Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranganui Claims Settlement Bill. He has acknowledged the impact of colonisation that made… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 hours ago
  • Rebuilding Christchurch – a lost opportunity?
    In rebuilding Christchurch, the city has a rare chance to build in a sustainable, creative and people-centred way. We can create a city that is so much more than a simple re-construction of buildings and transport links. Christchurch could be… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    23 hours ago
  • Rebuilding Christchurch – a lost opportunity?
    In rebuilding Christchurch, the city has a rare chance to build in a sustainable, creative and people-centred way. We can create a city that is so much more than a simple re-construction of buildings and transport links. Christchurch could be… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    23 hours ago
  • Minister must ensure 111 issue is fixed
    The Police Minister must ensure the 111 fault is fixed as an urgent priority as a 40 minute wait can be the difference between life and death, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. “The Police have said the fault lies… ...
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing
    The National Government has made New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The latest International Monetary Fund report shows New Zealand had the world’s second fastest growth in house prices at the… ...
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing
    The National Government has made New Zealand a world leader – in unaffordable housing, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The latest International Monetary Fund report shows New Zealand had the world’s second fastest growth in house prices at the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Hospital meals making you sick
    I don’t know about you but I felt a bit sick watching Health Minister Jonathon Coleman eat supposed Dunedin hospital food last week.  Dunedin people have tolerated a crumbling hospital, lower access to services, longer waiting times and gross food… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    1 day ago
  • Hospital meals making you sick
    I don’t know about you but I felt a bit sick watching Health Minister Jonathon Coleman eat supposed Dunedin hospital food last week.  Dunedin people have tolerated a crumbling hospital, lower access to services, longer waiting times and gross food… ...
    GreensBy Metiria Turei
    1 day ago
  • Key needs to stop shifting and come clean
    John Key’s position on his lawyer’s offshore trusts lobbying has changed yet again with the Prime Minister admitting he told Todd McClay that Ken Whitney had approached him, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Yet again information has to be… ...
    1 day ago
  • Key needs to stop shifting and come clean
    John Key’s position on his lawyer’s offshore trusts lobbying has changed yet again with the Prime Minister admitting he told Todd McClay that Ken Whitney had approached him, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Yet again information has to be… ...
    1 day ago
  • Revolutionary art in Palmerston North
    Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 days ago
  • Revolutionary art in Palmerston North
    Last night I was a judge at the May Day Cup, an annual theatrical event which celebrates International Workers Day. The event was organised by stalwart unionist Dion Martin and included a range of performers competing for the Cup. This year… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 days ago
  • Andrew Little visits Zaatari refugee camp
    Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little, has visited the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world, Zaatari in Jordan, a day after seeing New Zealand troops at Camp Taji in Iraq. Mr Little spent several hours in the camp, meeting… ...
    3 days ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • Com Com’s Z Energy decision anti-competitive
    The Commerce Commission’s decision to allow Z Energy to buy Caltex can only undermine the competition in the fuel industry that is needed to ensure New Zealanders pay the lowest price for petrol, Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts
    The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    4 days ago
  • Brownlee must step in as EQC spin exposed
    Gerry Brownlee needs to step in after EQC’s desperate spin in the wake of yesterday’s landmark settlement has been exposed by its own documents, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Yesterday’s settlement showed that thousands of homes may not have… ...
    4 days ago
  • OIO must explain Argentine pollution prosecutions
    The Overseas Investment Office (OIO)has questions to answer about how it safeguarded our sensitive land by allowing foreign investors with criminal prosecutions to purchase Onetai Station in Taranaki, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.   “Rafael and Federico Grozovsky… ...
    4 days ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    4 days ago
  • Aussie banks in NZ should ban lending to offshore buyers
    ASB, Westpac and ANZ must confirm whether or not they will continue to fund the over-heated property market by lending to non-resident offshore home buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This issue has arisen because their parent banks have… ...
    4 days ago
  • Murray McCully needs to come clean over Tokelau ferry debacle
    Foreign Minister Murray McCully needs to come clean on why a New Zealand aid-funded vessel intended to service the Tokelau Islands is delayed, over budget and failed its sea trials, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “The new ship… ...
    4 days ago
  • Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation
    Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson… ...
    4 days ago
  • Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation
    Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson… ...
    4 days ago
  • Andrew Little visits NZ troops in Iraq and refugees in Jordan
    Opposition Leader Andrew Little has visited New Zealand troops at Camp Taji, Iraq. Mr Little also met with Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled Al-Obedih and senior military officials from the Coalition forces in Iraq. He now heads to Jordan to see… ...
    5 days ago
  • Workplace death toll still too high
    It’s a damning indictment on the Government that as workers gather to remember their lost workmates on Worker’s Memorial Day, New Zealand’s workplace death toll is still far too high, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “At… ...
    5 days ago
  • Workplace death toll still too high
    It’s a damning indictment on the Government that as workers gather to remember their lost workmates on Worker’s Memorial Day, New Zealand’s workplace death toll is still far too high, Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “At… ...
    5 days ago
  • Minister must come clean on implications of landmark settlement
    Gerry Brownlee has urgent and serious questions to answer in the wake of today’s landmark EQC settlement, which potentially has major implications for thousands of Cantabrians, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. ...
    5 days ago
  • Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated
    The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from… ...
    5 days ago
  • Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated
    The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe. “Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from… ...
    5 days ago
  • Govt complacency leaves RB no room to cut
    The Government has put the economy in a holding pattern, leaving the Reserve Bank Governor with little room to manoeuvre as he tries to balance a rampant housing market with non-existent inflation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler… ...
    5 days ago
  • Govt complacency leaves RB no room to cut
    The Government has put the economy in a holding pattern, leaving the Reserve Bank Governor with little room to manoeuvre as he tries to balance a rampant housing market with non-existent inflation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler… ...
    5 days ago
  • Dam not out of doldrums yet
    Ruataniwha Dam promoters Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) still has hurdles to clear and a lot of work to do before ratepayers and taxpayers will have confidence in the scheme, says Labour’s MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti Meka Whaitiri.“We need sustainable… ...
    5 days ago
  • New study shows Smith’s insulation fails Kiwi kids
    A new Otago University study shows Nick Smith’s inadequate insulation standards will see hundreds of children unnecessarily hospitalised for housing-related illnesses every year, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. ...
    6 days ago
  • Government out of touch on foreign trusts
    John Key’s poor handling of the foreign trusts issue is starkly revealed in a poll today which shows the majority of Kiwis are worried about the country being a tax haven and almost half think the issue has been badly… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government out of touch on foreign trusts
    John Key’s poor handling of the foreign trusts issue is starkly revealed in a poll today which shows the majority of Kiwis are worried about the country being a tax haven and almost half think the issue has been badly… ...
    6 days ago
  • Biggest trade deficit for 7 years a warning for Govt
    The biggest trade deficit for seven years shows the Government can’t be so complacent about the economy and must take action to diversify and encourage exports, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The biggest driver has been the fall in… ...
    6 days ago
  • Biggest trade deficit for 7 years a warning for Govt
    The biggest trade deficit for seven years shows the Government can’t be so complacent about the economy and must take action to diversify and encourage exports, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The biggest driver has been the fall in… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government’s record on climate change under fire
      The Royal Society’s latest report on climate change has made it clear that it believes the Government’s current approach to climate change is inadequate, says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “The report, ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government’s record on climate change under fire
      The Royal Society’s latest report on climate change has made it clear that it believes the Government’s current approach to climate change is inadequate, says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “The report, ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding
    Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mainfreight director agrees with Labour on rail funding
    Richard Prebble – in the past accused of ruining rail and now a director of Mainfreight – agrees with Labour that secure funding for KiwiRail is the best way to minimise congestion in our major cities, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government to Reserve Bank – Rock or Hard Place?
    The Government’s complacency on the housing crisis and the economy has put the Reserve Bank Governor in a no-win position as he contemplates the OCR tomorrow, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler is stuck between a rock and… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government to Reserve Bank – Rock or Hard Place?
    The Government’s complacency on the housing crisis and the economy has put the Reserve Bank Governor in a no-win position as he contemplates the OCR tomorrow, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler is stuck between a rock and… ...
    6 days ago
  • John Key’s land tax could push up rents
    A land tax proposed by John Key as the answer to the housing crisis could push up rents and risks having no effect on skyrocketing prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Government needs to explain why the thousands… ...
    7 days ago
  • Government should ban foreign speculators
    The Prime Minister’s musings about a land tax on non-resident buyers is just more tinkering, and the Government should just ban foreign speculators as the Australian Government has done, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is classic John Key.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government must protect Pharmac as promised
    John Key must tell New Zealanders that he will not bow to pressure from wealthy drug companies or their US negotiators and put Kiwi lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.   “News reports today have the drug… ...
    1 week ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere