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Labour chickens out on $15 minimum wage

Written By: - Date published: 2:54 pm, October 14th, 2008 - 22 comments
Categories: election 2008, greens, labour, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Labour, why do you do this to me? One day you’re announcing neo-Keynesian policies to help us through the coming recession, then you stand up for the principle that access to education shouldn’t be dependent on the wealth of ones parents, and, then, just when I’m starting to believe that you really are a true Left party underneath it all, you go and refuse to commit to a $15 an hour minimum wage.

As we enter tough economic times, looking after the incomes of low paid workers is vital and has the important flow-on effect of keeping alive economic activity in poorer communities. With the rest of the Left championing $15 an hour, it puts Labour strangely out of step. But, perhaps, that is the point. Maybe Labour is keeping $15 an hour as a bargaining chip for post-election deals with the Greens and Progressives. A cheap, agreeable concession. If that is the strategy, however, it does rely on Labour winning the election first and committing to $15 an hour would have been a great way to ensure that happens. More likely, Labour fears a business backlash from pledging $15 and chickened out.

All in all, a lost opportunity politically, a let down for workers, and a reminder that if you want a truly left-wing Labour-led Government you need to party vote Green.

It’s not all bad news, though. In the same speech as Cullen announced Labour would not be pledging a $15 minimum wage, he did promise that the minimum wage would at least keep pace with inflation or the average wage, whichever rises faster. That’s minor compared to recent increases but better than National will commit to and will at least stop the minimum wage falling behind again as it did in the 1990s.

Cullen also announced that Labour would seek to have more of the Superannuation Fund’s billions invested in New Zealand. A truly bold government would go further and create a development fund tasked with investing in NZ infrastructure, buying back NZ assets, and investing in foreign assets that are crucial to our trade networks. The Superannuation Fund could put money in as could ordinary Kiwis through their Kiwibank Kiwisaver accounts and other New Zealand-based investors. Now, that would be something to vote for.

22 comments on “Labour chickens out on $15 minimum wage”

  1. Tane 1

    Pathetic. Yet another reason to party vote Green.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Nah, I think that at this stage Dr Cullen has realised that all he needs to do to win the election is …ummm .. keep a small target.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    All in all, a lost opportunity politically, a let down for workers, and a reminder that if you want a truly left-wing Labour-led Government you need to party vote Green.

    We could always have a left leaning Green-led government.

  4. frog 4

    Thanks for the Green support Steve. Personally I’d also like to see Labour coming out with something big and exciting in the areas of MECA bargaining and freeloading too. Those are two areas that could, with the right changes, really benefit low paid workers.

  5. vidiot 5

    We could always have a left leaning Green-led government.

    And be back in the dark ages, no thanks.

    A truly bold government would go further and create a development fund tasked with investing in NZ infrastructure,

    Yes agree with you on this one, it’s just a pity that if our politicians do the same (and invest in local companies) they get bagged & tagged as ‘inside traders’ for doing it.

    The NZ Super Fund could have brought the Auckland Airport shares, the Wellington Lines, TranzRail, etc – but there are strong reasons for them not to as well (excessive market influence iirc).

  6. Tane 6

    Draco. We could, but it’s unlikely. The Greens have the best policies, but the nature of things tends to be that as their policies become more mainstream they’re adopted by Labour (and eventually by National). They’re also, at least for now, a bit culturally alien from a lot of New Zealanders, and that harms their support.

    Still. Their policies rock. And unlike Labour, they’re able to show some spine under pressure.

  7. RedLogix 7

    And be back in the dark ages, no thanks.

    The Green movement tells us that our current primitive technologies are often needlessly expolitative, wasteful and destructive.

    The next generation of technology will move away from the crude, energy intensive methods that we are currently using, moving instead to a more sophisticated emulation of natures own techniques.

    Evolution is an exceedingly powerful tool, that has allowed all lifeforms to solve exceedingly difficult engineering problems, in very subtle and efficient ways that we are only just learning about. The Greens are all about improving our understanding of the world we are a part of and evolving our technologies and economies into smarter, sustainable forms

    An evolution that progresses us out of the Dark Age phase that the taxcuttasaurous party would have us locked into.

  8. BeShakey 8

    “A truly bold government would go further and create a development fund tasked with investing in NZ infrastructure, buying back NZ assets, and investing in foreign assets that are crucial to our trade networks.”

    But a fiscally responsible government would recognise the risks associated with focussing funds in such a way that reduced diversity. On the political front it might also see the risk of the funds $ becoming a bargaining chip for politicians (it’s easy to see parties requiring that the fund invests in their pet area). All of this would put at risk the gains in the fund that are crucial to its success.

  9. higherstandard 9

    “Evolution is an exceedingly powerful tool, that has allowed all lifeforms to solve exceedingly difficult engineering problems, in very subtle and efficient ways that we are only just learning about.”

    Quite true

    “The Greens are all about improving our understanding of the world we are a part of and evolving our technologies and economies into smarter, sustainable forms”

    Quite false

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    We could, but it’s unlikely.

    Unlikely ATM but I do see Green support firming up and wouldn’t be surprised if it became viable in the next 5 or 6 election cycles.

  11. Chris 11

    i agree, the minimum wage is a blunt instrument in terms of increasing wealth. I’ve seen it myself, I haven’t recieved a payrise because the minimum wage has gone up. I don’t agree with it, but a minimum wage creates a disincentive to paying people more, especially given that it doesn’t keep up with productivity normally. Perhaps the minimum wage price could be set with a labour exchange, that was unable to go down but went up when actual market conditions allowed. Or if nothing else, a study could be done to see how such a system would react?

    To haphazardly conclude: work rights are good, unions are good, but i still think that there are better things to focus on than just getting a wage rise because the govt. mandated so.

  12. lprent 12

    Draco – nah – their policies will always be nickable.

    The greens tend to appeal to the young and the people who seem to think that policy decisions carry few or no costs. In other words they are unbalanced.

    But most people don’t stay young. Few remain idealistic enough (or so arrogant as to be THAT sure). Often they have kids who make them realize that the world is an even stranger place than they thought.

    I’d add at this point that I don’t have any kids. However I did play a considerable part in bringing up many of the families kids. They’re pretty much all green in tinge (even the redoubtable Rocky) – just as I was when I was younger. I’d assume that they will stay greenish, but I’d also bet that they will start voting centre as they get older.

    The centre is likely to be where their green was earlier….. But I’m a cynical older bastard..

    [and we love you for it. SP]

    [lprent: Hah – SP you need to know when to be bold and when not to. Putting an extra bold in as a moderator on my comment made everyone else become overly bold below. However it was an area that being bold was contraindicated!

    Oh well I suppose you like the greens as well – you’ll figure it out. I wonder if there is a smiley for smugness..]

  13. Daveski 13

    SP – just when i despair that you can’t come out and be critical of Labour, you prove me wrong. Bugger. There goes my rant – what was it?? – about dogmatic fixed positions!!

    I’ve commented before that there is a lot more similarity between the two main parties than you would be lead to believe – National’s me too policies is one example, as is this. Plenty here have noted Labour’s reluctance to turn back the clock over the last 9 years.

    My argument is that MMP is forcing the main parties into the mainstream given the existence of strong small parties in the extremes. Certainly, national has become more mainstream to attempt to get elected – the lessons from 2005 have been learnt.

    Upping the minimum wage now – while noble – would simply be disastrous for those you are aiming to help. If things get tighter, it will lead to further cutbacks in employment.

    I note SP you claim this is cheap and agreeable for post election negotiation. No costings or graphs to back this up? Surely, it would have flow on effect across the economy – a trickle up effect?

    Edit – if this is bold it aint intential!

  14. RedLogix 14

    HS,

    It seems you have little or very selective actual experience or knowledge of Green people.

    They are a fairly diverse bunch, but mostly socially liberal and tend to engage with issues at both a pragmatic and intellectual level. Many are highly technically literate and aware, while others have a stronger bent toward more traditional, organic/spiritual ideas Personally I see them as aspects of the same ethic.

    The Green futurists look forward to refining the useful aspects of the modern world (for instance I expect that the internet will continue to evolve), while migrating away from leagacy techniques that destructive, toxic and damaging. From their point of view the future is loaded with exciting new ideas.

    At the same time, humanity is much older and deeper than the Industrial Revolution. The people who lived in what we casually term “The Dark Ages” were not stupid or unobservant. The average medieval peasant knew things and could do things sustainably that most people in the current Western world have no clue about…. important knowledge that has been discarded or devalued because we have been caught up in the hubris of how very clever we moderns must be. Green traditionalists contribute from this perspective, without in any sense wanting to propel themselves back into superstition and ignorance.

    On the other hand HS, maybe you are right. Your assertion is after all very compelling.

    I guess I’ll have to vote ACT after all.

  15. Jasper 15

    OK, now this is where I really come into my own.

    The problem with NZ, thanks to Muldoon scrapping the compulsory super is the fact business cannot afford to grow, and pay minimum wage of $15
    While I do support the theoretic principles of it as a right, business would not be able to grow with such a high wage.

    The main factors that face NZ Inc in terms of productivity, growth and business expansion is the lack of capital.

    Australia has had 18 years of being able to do this, simply by virtue of their 18 billion super fund.

    Why can NZ Inc not do the same? Well, we can now. Over the next 5-10 years, Kiwisaver Mk 2 will continue to provide much needed funds into our flagging economy (which the treasury report didn’t make much noise on)
    As the superfund grows, there will be a more available for capital which is where business will then be able to deliver better wages.

    Right now, there are only two options for a business to expand – borrow from the bank, or take it out of operational profit.
    Most businesses have to take it out of profit. I had to as I didn’t meet the banks criteria – there were no angel investors to help me grow, and people in this country are almost apoplectic when you suggest they should invest in the sharemarket.

    Its the main reason why Aussie is now ahead of us in terms of wages. Businesses can actually afford to return their profits back to the staff in the form of higher wages as any expansionary capital they require can simply be raised on the sharemarket.

    I do think we will get to $15 minimum wage, but not till 2011 at least. $13.50 should be the next step, then $14, $14.50 and finally $15.
    From 2011, it should be locked in to rise each year at the rate of inflation – as should the tax thresholds.

    Simply raising it to $15 will hurt a lot of businesses, and this is on area I don’t agree with you on SP.

  16. Daveski 16

    LP – I promise I didn’t break it!!!!

    [lprent: Nah – Steve attempted to leave a note on my comment. It was a little too bold 😈 ]

  17. tracey 17

    I s’pose a small mercy is that the Nats (while bleating about NZ exodus) havent been in power. The minimum wage would still be at $7.

  18. higherstandard 18

    Redlogix

    I was under the impression that the Green Party’s was committed to a complete ban in relation to GE ?

    How then does this in any way marry in to your assertion that

    “The Greens are all about improving our understanding of the world we are a part of and evolving our technologies and economies into smarter, sustainable forms’

  19. Chris 19

    great post jasper, you articulated what i was hoping to…except you did it well!

  20. Felix 20

    AAAAAARRRRRGHHHHHH everything went bold all of a sudden

    edit: now it’s normal. Trippy. DOn’t mind me, carry on…

    [lprent: SP got bold enough to leave a note on my comment above. It didn’t go well. ]

  21. Jasper 21

    Cheers Chris,

    Seems like coming from the right side of the left, means that the left of the left have no valid theories as to how else we could increase min wage to $15.

    Apart from “lets think really really really hard, and it’ll happen”

    We need more incentives to encourage people to invest in the sharemarket. Allowing dividends to be taxed at PIE rates would be a start.

  22. nigel lin 22

    Why only raise it to $15. Much better would be to raise it to $30, or even $50. We could all be rich then :)

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  • Troubled school wanted $25,000 dollars to fence farm
    The troubled Whangaruru charter school asked Hekia Parata for $25,000 to fence the school farm at the expense of spending on teaching, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This unbelievable revelation comes hard on the heels of Hekia Parata’s decision to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Prisoner voting disqualification and the Bill of Rights Act
    In 2010, National rammed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill through Parliament. Paul Quinn’s Member’s Bill existed because Paul Quinn thought anyone who’d been imprisoned was a serious offender, and serious offenders had ‘forfeited’ their right to vote.… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    2 days ago
  • Mainfreight ‘appalled’ by Government’s rail madness
    The Government has been given a serve by New Zealand-based international trucking and logistics firm Mainfreight which says it lacks a national transport strategy, and has treated rail badly, Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The company has told shareholders it… ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at...
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    3 days ago
  • All options need to be put on meat sector table
    Farmers must be given every assurance that all potential risks have been considered before Silver Fern Farms opens its door to foreign equity, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The ongoing saga involving the meat sector and amalgamation has… ...
    3 days ago
  • Flag the referendum if 50% or more don’t vote
    Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “John Key has already wasted more than $8 million on his vanity project… ...
    3 days ago
  • 90,000 cars reclassified in botched ACC ratings
    New figures obtained by Labour show the ACC Minister’s botched motor vehicle levy system has resulted in 90,000 vehicles having to be reclassified so far – at a cost of $6 million, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Nikki Kaye’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer
    Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the… ...
    4 days ago
  • Meth ring under Serco’s nose
    The news that two Serco inmates have been arrested for helping to run a methamphetamine ring from prison should be the final straw and see their contract cancelled, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “National has stood by Serco despite… ...
    4 days ago
  • Ministers failing women and their own targets
    New figures showing just five Ministers have met the Government’s own reduced targets for appointing women to state sector boards is evidence National is failing Kiwi women, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The Ministry for Women’s 2015 Gender… ...
    4 days ago
  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    4 days ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    5 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    5 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    5 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    1 week ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    1 week ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    1 week ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    1 week ago

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