web analytics
The Standard

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

1 2 3 8

  • Tragedy must be impetus for better training
    The Police Minister needs to explain why unsworn and inadequately trained custody officers were put in a situation of caring for a medically unwell prisoner on a busy Saturday night, Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Commenting on an IPCA… ...
    14 hours ago
  • Government must be more transparent on investor state clauses
    The Government must be more transparent around the draft investor state dispute settlements in the TPPA, says David Parker, Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson. “Labour is pro trade, and is proud of the FTA we negotiated with China, which… ...
    18 hours ago
  • Protect university staff and student voices
    The Green Party believes ensuring student and staff representation on university councils is important. National recently passed a law reducing the size of university governance councils while increasing the proportion of the members nominated by, guess who… Steven Joyce. The… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 days ago
  • C’mon Nick what’s the truth on the RMA
     “Nick Smith has got to fess up and tell us what is happening to his much vaunted RMA reform, Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods says.  “With just a day and a half to go before the polls open in Northland,… ...
    2 days ago
  • SSC salaries sink National’s spending spin
    Massive pay rises at the State Services Commission prove National’s claims of clamping down on spending in the public sector are simply fantasy, Labour’s State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. “Salaries in this one department are almost $70,000 more than… ...
    2 days ago
  • We can fix Christchurch and keep our assets
    The Christchurch City Council is seeking public feedback on its proposed 10 year plan for Council revenue and spending. This is probably one of the most significant 10 year plans ever to be written by a local council because of… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 days ago
  • Epidemic of serious assaults in our prisons
    Labour wants stab proof vests and pepper spray for all corrections officers to keep them safe from the epidemic of serious prison assaults that are occurring around the country’s jails, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis.  “There have been five… ...
    2 days ago
  • Listen to the locals Hekia!
    Minister Hekia Parata needs to understand what consultation is, Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson says. “It means you have to listen to what people say in their submissions and then be able to demonstrate you have considered their views when… ...
    2 days ago
  • Thanking our caregivers
    Let’s celebrate and thank our caregivers. This week is caregivers’ week. It’s a chance to acknowledge the thousands of women, and occasional other person, who are caring for the elderly and disabled in our country. They hold people’s lives in… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Mana Post shop the best outcome for community
    Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi has welcomed the move to place the services from the Mana Post shop to a local small business. “This is the best outcome for the community we could ask for. All the vital services… ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour looks to put the tea back into entitlements
    Labour is moving to restore the rights of Kiwis to take tea and rest breaks, Leader Andrew Little says. “Within months of the Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill becoming law we are already seeing some of our largest companies, including… ...
    3 days ago
  • Desperate money grab to keep Ruataniwha afloat
    The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company’s decision to borrow $4 million to keep the Ruataniwha project afloat is a case of throwing ratepayer’s good money after bad, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri and Napier MP Stuart Nash.   “This bridging… ...
    3 days ago
  • Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer
    At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    4 days ago
  • Invermay petition delivered to Parliament
    Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark handed over a 12,450 signature Save Invermay petition to Dunedin South MP Clare Curran on the steps of Parliament today.  “The level of support that the petition has received across New Zealand is overwhelming,”… ...
    4 days ago
  • Redcliffs School closure plan wrong
    The Government’s proposal to consult on the closure of Redcliffs School not only goes against the best geotechnical advice, but more importantly goes against the best educational outcomes for Redcliffs children and the health of our community, Port Hills MP… ...
    4 days ago
  • Cotton On first to test the tea breaks law
    Australian corporate Cotton On, the first major business operating in New Zealand to exploit the new tea breaks law, could walk away from negotiations if it doesn’t get its own way, says Labour Party Labour Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Cotton… ...
    4 days ago
  • World water day: eight rivers in one day
    Our photo journey started by the Waioweka (also known as Waioeka) River which flows from Te Urewera to Opotiki, and is surrounded by beautiful forest. The water looked great! Kopeopeo Canal It contrasted greatly with the Kopeopeo Canal near Whakatane,… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 days ago
  • Council can stop Port’s encroachment on harbour
    As owner of the Port of Auckland, Council can stop the wharf extension and reclamation if it wants to, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Goff. ‘As owner the council is custodian of the port and harbour on behalf of… ...
    5 days ago
  • We all benefit when education meets everyone’s needs
    As Dyslexia week comes to a close,  Dyslexia NZ have reminded us that around 10% of our citizens are dyslexic and are entitled to better support. One of their strongest arguments is that failure to provide identification and support for… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 days ago
  • State house sell-off fiasco a gift for developers
    The Government’s property developer mates are the only people who can salvage National’s state house sell-off now the Salvation Army has torpedoed the policy, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Having been cynically used by the Government as the poster… ...
    5 days ago
  • National reinforces inequality in schools
    The National Government’s flagship programme Investing in Educational Success is clearly reinforcing inequality in the school system, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The analysis released today by the NZEI clearly shows schools in wealthier suburbs are the main beneficiaries… ...
    5 days ago
  • Big change starts small
    Today marks Race Relations Day in New Zealand. Race Relations Day coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  The United Nations General Assembly chose this day as it marks the day in 1960 when 69 peaceful… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    7 days ago
  • Israel, Palestine and the question of statehood
    The knife-edge election in Israel complicates the Middle East situation, even more than usual. The Prime Minister-elect, Binyamin Netanyahu, is moving to form a government. Netanyahu has indicated that, during his term, a Palestinian state would not be established. That… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch transport goes backwards
    The Green Party has a vision of a liveable, accessible Christchurch with a sense of identity and strong connected communities. Instead, 2013 census figures released by Statistics New Zealand reveal a fractured community, and tell a story of frustrated Christchurch commuters… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Super Fund should divest $140 million in high risk coal
    The Green Party is calling on the New Zealand Super Fund to divest their $140 million investment in coal companies that are vulnerable to becoming financially stranded according to a damning new report from Oxford University. The Smith School of… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    1 week ago
  • Learn to count with Mark Osborne: 0 + 1 = ?
    The adage about the first casualty of war being truth is one that might often be applied to the political battle for hearts and minds, and of course votes. A rather unfortunate example of this has been arriving in the… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • Is it still a safety net when the holes are this big?
    Over the last few weeks I’ve been wondering how safe our income support system is for people, especially those with cognitive or learning disabilities. I’ve been trying to support a young man who was severely injured in a workplace accident… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Pasifika – protecting the Pacific needed now more than ever.
    Over the weekend thousands of Aucklanders flocked to celebrate our city’s diverse Pacific communities and cultures at the annual Pasifika festival and the Greens were there to join them. The Pasifika festival has been held every year for 23… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Sounds Stakeholders Seek a Sustainable Future
    It was heartening to see a large number of people who care about the Marlborough Sounds come together at the Marlborough Marine Futures’ forum in Picton on March 8. Fellow Green MP Steffan Browning, who lives in Marlborough, and I… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Solid Energy, who will clean up the mess?
    What can you say? This state-owned coal miner is facing some very serious problems. They haven’t run a profit in years, have required two Government bailouts, laid-off more than 700 staff and look like they need a third injection of… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere