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NZ dis-empower

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, April 27th, 2013 - 41 comments
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A year ago the nats announced massive changes to employment law. And then they went quiet. Now with a new Minister of Labour they’ve decided it’s time to move.

There’s a lot of nasty stuff in the package Simon Bridges tried to sneak in yesterday, but the worst is the change that allows employers to refuse to bargain with workers’ chosen representatives. As I pointed out when this assault on working Kiwis first reared its ugly head:

Make no mistake, that’s a rule that will allow employers to simply walk away from negotiations. No need to surface bargain. No need to draw things out. Just say “we’re not having a collective agreement here” and that’s it.

John Key is claiming it won’t affect “the vast bulk” of New Zealanders. And, aside from the 360,000 New Zealanders in unions, it won’t. Directly.

But the thing is, union deals drag everyone’s wages up. It’s not just the hundreds of thousands of non-union members on union sites that get to enjoy union-cut deals either – the reason people get paid what they do at (non-union) TV3 is because they’re have to stay competitive with (unionised) TVNZ in the wage market. The reason people get paid what they do at non-union mills and factories is because they need to keep their wages close to the wages paid at union mills and factories. And middle-class people with degrees get paid what they do because public sector unions make sure those qualifications maintain their value. Unionised Kiwi workers are constantly pulling other Kiwi workers up with them.

National understands this. They realise if you keep unions down you keep down the wages of everyone else too.

That’s why they’re undermining the laws that require employers to act in good faith and thus reducing the bargaining power of union members.

The choice couldn’t be starker. Two weeks ago we saw Labour and the Greens introduced NZ Power, a policy that puts Kiwis ahead corporate interests, and now National has announced far right changes to employment law that takes power from working Kiwis and puts it squarely in the hands of big business. And make no mistake – where the power goes, the money follows.

We’ve seen NZ Power. The Nats have answered with NZ Dis-empower.

41 comments on “NZ dis-empower”

  1. Morrissey 1

    Bridges is New Zealand’s version of Marco Rubio. Dim, not nice, but very good-looking.

    That’s all he has to offer.

    • David H 1.1

      It’s the minister for Funny Talks, All show and no substance. Now to see if the Nats have to do a Hekia on him and spin him around.

    • johnm 1.2

      Hi Morrissey
      I don’t know how you see Simon Bridges as being “very good-looking” sick, sick, sick,
      I think he’s an ugly up-himself little toerag in black! 🙁 vomit!

      • Morrissey 1.2.1

        I don’t know how you see Simon Bridges as being “very good-looking” sick, sick, sick,
        I think he’s an ugly up-himself little toerag in black! vomit!

        I’m on your side, my friend. I’m more of a Nikki Kaye man, myself.

      • Tim 1.2.2

        Lol …. I was just thinking the same. I noted the ‘creepy’ perception from one lady on here (somehere). Morissey – IF we have the good/bad fortune to come back here in say 3-5 years -my pick is that you’ll see a Soimun Brudjizz that’s very very aesthetically ugly – with all due respect to Monty Python and an exploding belly – the result of greed/sloth/laziness/entoitlmunt and all that goes with it.
        Already the goy is struggling.

        • Morrissey 1.2.2.1

          You’re assuming that this twerp’s moral and spiritual failure will be reflected in his body shape and appearance, like Dorian Gray. While I would love that to be the case, I have a suspicion that Bridges is vain enough and self-involved enough to actually work out in a gym regularly. He doesn’t smoke or drink, as far as I know, so I expect him to evolve into this guy….

          http://www.voxy.co.nz/files/imagecache/news_item_image/files/featured_item_image_147809.jpg

          • Tim 1.2.2.1.1

            Well I was thinking that the guy is just greedy in EVERY WAY with that holier-than-thou, lecturing attitude that seems to afflict many in NAct. I’m hoping that if he doesn’t trip himself up, Bellamy’s will

      • Roy 1.2.3

        My SO tells me Simon Bridges is better looking than most of the male politicians but adds that that is not saying much at all, and she rates him only a 6.

    • tc 1.3

      Bridges is a sock puppet who can present whatever he’s given without question with that aura of conviction, it’s that style over substance PR approach that’s worked a treat so far.

      He will go far.

    • Dr Terry 1.4

      I’m sure you mean “physically very good-looking (I had not noticed). In psche and soul he is indeed very ugly.

  2. quartz 2

    My girlfriend described him as “creepy”.

  3. Janice 3

    This is well timed to cause trouble for the next election. It is all about staying in power. Pick a fight with the unions, suppress workers until they are forced to strike, then point out that it is Labour and the Greens that support the unions so the mindless won’t vote for them believing that only lovely caring National stands between them and anarchy.

    • Paul 3.1

      Or it’s about getting as much draconian policy through as possible in the knowledge that they are likely to lose the next election and that the Labour Party is too scared to take on the all powerful markets and will therefore only tinker with these changes.
      Then wait till Labour falls next time and continue the neo-lib revolution.
      Career Labour politicians go on to cushy jobs in international fields and the cycle continues.
      Until the grassroots recaptures the left wing parties, this will be the predictable cycle of events.

      • IrishBill 3.1.1

        I have no doubt Labour will do more than “tinker” with these changes. I think there’s a general acceptance that the contractual approach to employment has failed Kiwis.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1

          They floated and awards-style system at the last election, didn’t they?

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1

            Yep and Darien Fenton mentioned it again yesterday.

            • Alanz 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Let’s hope Labour stays afloat on this one and if Darien Fenton is steering, she should encourage Grant Robertson to keep his mouth shut and not take a bite of the waka.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2

          Labour has found some steel? Looking forwards to that.

          How many news cycles before Labour is all over the NAT’s announcement with news-worthy one liners, framing it as extreme and reactive, and backing themselves up by solid policy positioning?

        • Lefty 3.1.1.3

          I have no doubt Labour will do more than “tinker” with these changes. I think there’s a general acceptance that the contractual approach to employment has failed Kiwis.

          Thats what Labour conned us into believing last time – and the time before.

          What makes it different this time?

        • Tim 3.1.1.4

          @Irish: Did you happen to hear Bolger this morning with Chris Laidlaw – and if so, what are your thoughts?
          He was obviously too generous towards Ruth Richardson Limited for a start, but his comment on the neo-lib plan and financialisation over the past couple of decades might suggest he thinks all is not well with current Nat

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.4.1

            Bolger put the parking brakes on Ruthanasia. For that reason alone he doesn’t have any cred amongst right wing neolibs.

      • McFlock 3.1.2

        I reckon you might be right about draconian policy.
        The thing about these changes is that they will clearly and explicitly fuck a large chunk of the country. Polls are indicating that a nact govt next year is doubtful, or 50/50. If they spin through the laws this year, hundreds of thousands will feel it by the next election. With the clear perpetrator being national, not a gfc.

        So they want to burn as many of the social gains built for people in the last hundred years as possible.

      • Murray Olsen 3.1.3

        Pretty much how I see it, Paul. Labour serves to normalise many of the extremist changes made by the Tories, at least when they aren’t making them themselves.

  4. johnm 4

    Another step towards a Boss Corporate dictatorship. The meanness is incredible, no tea breaks if your boss slave driver says so!? A further assault on the social contract: workers are but production cost units, not persons in a society, therefore they can’t have collective representation and employers can walk off and say take it or stick it. This Government copying the U$ led by Yankey john want to destroy unions in this country, they’re aiming at the Teachers’ union by wanting Charter schools. And of course a further assault on the social contract: bennies are to be harassed and punitively sanctioned though there are no jobs to remove 100,000 in ten years, this is copycat stuff imported from the U$K welcome to the N$Z if this shower get another term after this one.:-(

  5. ghostrider888 5

    heard a spokeswoman for the TEU say on RNZ that these employment amendments will have on-going deleterious effects for teaching standards within their sector.

  6. tc 6

    This is all part of the master plan.

    Having aided Trev and the old guard see off DC so they can get DS as Labour leader they will expect to have only some of these measures removed as DS if they make it that far.

    As an added bonus they get unions up in arms, align that behaviour to Lab/Greens/Mana and play the ‘see look what anarchists they all are’ card.

    They also need more distractions to take what little focus there has been on the corrupt actions of NACT.

  7. Peter 7

    When I have worked in organisations offering individual contracts the pay increases were linked to the union negotiated rates. Without the union benchmark there was no increase. Anyone who thinks they are better off under a divide and rule system where their is no collective bargaining is deluded.

  8. Foreign Waka 8

    It looks to me that there is an element of an almost militant move to diminish employment conditions. This seems to be aimed at the “level playing field” with Asian Nations. Wonder where the younger Generation is on this one. Most likely not interested until it hits them 20 years later. We are giving away what generations have fought for so easily.

    • fatty 8.1

      Wonder where the younger Generation is on this one. Most likely not interested until it hits them 20 years later.

      Not sure what you expect the younger generations to do. Even Gen X have spent their whole lives under neoliberal working conditions, and its worse for Gen Y & Z. They have life crippling student debt, low wages and few future wage rises to look forward to.
      Forget about 20 years later, they are already suffering. And if they had the audacity to have children, then they are also seen as a burden on NZ.
      Maybe if Labour included them in their policies, then they might might put down their bongs and speak up.

      • Foreign Waka 8.1.1

        Unfortunately, you seem to be misunderstanding my comment, but I will respond to your reply as you understand it. 1/ I don’t care what alphabet letter one uses for any generation, its a con to pit one against the other 2/ Most young NZlaenders are completely politically ignorant and may I add, because it has to be seen in context, illiterate in terms of world history (like we learn from it etc…. ok, this has some fallacies) 3/ The younger generation has grown up with the mantra to take and not to ask and what is worse to disrespect their parents generation (yes, and crime reports do confirm that). 4/ Worst of all some justification is being found for that too, you got this and I am not – I am entitled etc..
        So as to your question what I expect the younger generation to do? Educate yourself about the FACTS, get passionate about JUSTICE (as to opposite of law) and change what can be changed for the better. Yes, this is hard, it takes a lot of courage and many have done this before. Its now your turn.

        Back to my comment: What I am saying is that we are going down the path of the cheap labor and sometimes sweat shop style conditions of the Asian market states – ref this article http://www.adbi.org/event/4086.postcrisis.employment.social.policies.dev.asia/
        Here is one of the excerpts:
        Social cohesion and employment issues were the subject of the second session. It was argued that world leaders have failed to address the root cause of the crisis, namely, the global and regional race to the bottom, which has sacrificed labor rights in the name of global competition. Indeed, the pre-crisis period was one of growth without fairness, as the gap widened between rich and poor in many countries.

    • Lloyd 8.2

      Surely we must compare lowest wages in NZ with what is being paid in the mining sector in Australia as those wages are what draws Kiwis to Oz. There is a market, anything which reduces wages in NZ must be distorting that market. Why don’t we see neo-libs getting upset when Government actions are causing distortions in the market that are reducing Kiwis salaries by millions?

      The higher foreign salaries being paid to CEO’s in Australia and the US is what is used to justify the huge increase to the suits in the boardrooms of NZ. What’s good for the gander must be good for the goose.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Except the Gander is the one with the power and the influence to set the rules.

        Why don’t we see neo-libs getting upset when Government actions are causing distortions in the market that are reducing Kiwis salaries by millions?

        Because the free market is a convenient fiction; this is all about shifting national income from workers to owners and to corporates.

        In this context, why would the neo-libs be upset at the reduction of Kiwi salaries? Every dollar less they have to pay in wages is another dollar they keep for their own profits. Nothing to be upset about there.

  9. DH 9

    It’s worth adding that this bill disempowers good employers, it’s not just workers who will suffer here.

    Look at the area of employment that involves contracts and labour. An employer who pays their workers a reasonable wage & offers good working conditions is now placed at a serious commercial disadvantage come tender or contract renewal time. Competitors can now pay lower wages which enables them to undercut the good employer on tenders for cleaning, catering, construction & other labour-based contracts.

    Helen is absolutely right. This favours bad employers. The assholes of the business world are being given a competitive advantage over everyone else. It doesn’t bode well.

  10. RedBaronCV 10

    And they wonder why people go to Australia

  11. Tiger Mountain 11

    The dirty filthy torys are going for it in term two alright. High unemployment and low union density allows them to get away with so far. For instance under the bill new employees will no longer get the conditions and pay rates of an existing Collective Employment Agreement for their first 30 days which is the window for them to join the union and the CEA rather than be a freeloader. But obviously the intent is to pay as little as possible regardless.

    Younger people that may be used to unpaid internships etc are going to have to wake up or be condemmed to service work and unemployment.

  12. Tim 12

    The Standard: Could you PLEASE get that bleached tooth – ch,ch.ch.Wah Wah image off the link. It’s offensive. I might be Oh so very sorry for the recent Mearnt Mong-Nui fludng, and Oim Genwinly sorry that puppy dog moit hev got its feet wet -but oim sure Soimun will savoiv – not so much others.

    [lprent: I believe that Irish may have deliberately put it there.. ]

  13. Yesisback 13

    This is a load of rubbish

    [lprent: You are a load of rubbish, I agree. However do you have anything substantive to say or should I just treat you as another numbskull troll? ]

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