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Working for a Living

Written By: - Date published: 2:21 pm, February 24th, 2013 - 117 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: , , , , , ,

The thing I like about the Living Wage campaign is the branding represents strongly both the problem and the solution.  Even the Prime Minister fell into its trap the other day when he said that the Living Wage was not a priority for his Government.  What a load he got off there!  The statement says it all really.  Full Stop.  The Government don’t want you to work for a living, they just want you to work.

The thing is there is no mechanism in NZ to develop fair wages.  Collective bargaining brings a margin for workers that can access it, but even then, the outcomes are often wages below a living wage for workers in the service, hospitality, retail and care sectors for example (about 700,000 workers actually).

For most workers the employer sets the wages.  In Christchurch a major consortium of 5 construction companies (Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team – SCIRT) has a recruitment website that says it all really.  While urging people to come and undertake a state provided training in construction, on the pay issue it says:

Each employer sets their own pay rates and will decide what your wages will be .

Well that’s clear enough!  Many of these employers are reported to be paying the minimum wage for semi -skilled work  (labouring, traffic control etc).   Thank goodness they don’t get to completely decide – the minimum wage is at least a bottom!  The complaints they can’t recruit and want to increase migration to Christchurch needs to be challenged.  The market works both ways boys!

So instead of unions claiming the 2-3% settlements of wages being achieved from time to time in collective bargaining as a victory (which on low wages they clearly aren’t in the context of a living wage), they are changing the context and fighting the dominant narrative about work.  The campaign highlights that that the deal about work is broken and needs to be restored.  That in exchange to the obligations and duties owed by workers to their employer – honesty, loyalty, diligence – wages should be paid that afford a decent life.  Rest, time with family, a modest family holiday etc.  It is remarkable that we have to have this debate.

The narrative pushed by business and government is that work is a charity.  The business is the benefactor providing jobs as a community service – to be honoured and recognised.  That  workers are the beneficiaries – the recipients of the charity – for which they should be grateful and deferential and not bite the hand that feeds them.  They are lucky to have a job!

Pike River was the classic example – the PM rushing to the companies side to ensure the risk that  the dark side of business would be exposed was minimised.  The CEO was given a key place in the state memorial service to talk about how the miners were drawn to Pike because of its safety culture (safety culture – my next blog!).  The media were stigmatised if they were ‘mean’ to him in his hour of grief by asking insensitive questions like did he know what the hell he was doing in the aftermath of the explosion.  He was nominated for New Zealander of the year a few weeks after the explosion –he was described in the media as “god inspired”.  He promotes the narrative beautifully in an interview everyone should now re-watch.

The Hobbit was another – those ungrateful actors spitting in the face of the generous charity of Warners who were the ultimate charitable giver – 2000 jobs.  But also in every day dealings the narrative is tripped out.  The recent Business NZ new year party – Phil O’Reilly praised his membership on the basis that they worked every day to create jobs for our community (like at Contact Energy).

The Living Wage seeks to change the narrative.  While in the first instance it is relying on employers agreeing to pay a wage higher than the market demands them too, it raises the issue of what the exchange of work entails and who really pays for low wages.  The campaign sends a message broader than the actual employers that will buy into it.  It says the market is failing and needs to be fixed.  It makes the space for courageous politicians to step up and promote legislation that supports collective bargaining and industry wide agreements on the basis that the current law is failing to do that and the community is paying the difference (by way of health costs, family subsidies, crime costs, educational failure etc).  It changes the narrative of “be grateful and take what you can get”, to “the market is failing and business are taking advantage of it and its victims –workers – to pay wages that are destroying our community”

Sure the union movement as part of the  strategy will recognise those employers that come on board and encourage communities to do the same.  We will highlight these employers as the good ones – juxtaposed against those that don’t. But always within the story that the system is broken and needs fixing (because there will be employers that don’t).  We do a bit of this now – highlight Progressive Supermarkets for paying higher wages than others etc.  But the campaign painfully highlights that the things that humans, citizens, children, families, communities need to survive are not built into our economic model – they have to be shamed out – and then the model has to be changed.

I support the Living Wage campaign – it will bring about real change for many low paid workers, and highlight the inadequacy of the model – and it will lead to the bigger debate – we need fair laws, a balanced economy and a commitment to truly recognise that work is part of a deal – and that deal includes an exchange of time, skill, sweat and honesty for a wage that people can live on.

117 comments on “Working for a Living”

  1. QoT 1

    The market works both ways boys!

    I feel a disturbance in the Force, as though dozens of private sector chief executives screamed “But that’s not fair!!!!” in unison.

    • lprent 1.1

      What! You’re not suggesting that you think that CEO’s think an unbalanced market playing field is desirable. Are you?

      Rhetorical question… After all we only have to look at the GFC and who it impacted on to see the answer to that.

      • QoT 1.1.1

        But but but doesn’t an unbalanced playing field just make people work harder to be successful? Why do I even OWN bootstraps if not to pull myself up with them?

  2. geoff 2

    Great post, Helen.

  3. Bill 3

    The Living Wage (campaign?) seeks to change the narrative

    If that’s the case, can I humbly suggest that jobs be referred to as jobs and not work? The two concepts are worlds apart and really shouldn’t be interchanged.

    And then maybe have a wee think over statements such as –

    That in exchange to the obligations and duties owed by workers to their employer – honesty, loyalty, diligence – wages should be paid that afford a decent life.

    That so buys into the dominant narrative that it just isn’t funny. Fact is, neither I nor any other worker has ever owed an employer anything! Most people have a job in order to survive. End. Commonly, jobs deliver no pleasure or empowerment or sense of achievement. Remember the term ‘wage slavery’? If there wasn’t a socio-economic system compelling people to take up jobs, then people wouldn’t take up jobs. And please remember that the principle reason, and in many instances the sole reason jobs exist is to make money for other people. Meaning that most people waste most of their life doing pointless shit only because they have to – primarily in order that others get to spend most of their life doing exactly what they want to do.

    • lprent 3.1

      Given a choice between employing someone (and I regularly do) or working with someone who I think

      1. Is likely to rip the company and me off, sell its secrets (and therefore my wages) to competing firms and slack off whenever they are unsupervised.
      2. I can trust

      I’ll tell you which one I will be not be employing. Those three attributes are the basis on any employment agreement and for good reason. As an employer, who can be bothered wandering around cleaning up after such an arsehole?

      As a fellow employee, I’m uninterested in helping silly pricks who think that I have to waste effort preventing them thieving from me, destroying the work that I’m doing, or offloading their work on to me.

      Basically your criticism is just silly if you think it through. No-one likes working with thieving blabbermouth layabouts. Hell I don’t expect that you would.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        And the same principles apply not just to employees but also to business partners or even co-owners in a collective (whether it’s a for profit or not for profit). You want people onboard who are hard working, loyal, honest and have the best interests of the enterprise consistently at heart.

        Clock watchers and paycheck players can frak off.

      • Bill 3.1.2

        Not quite sure how you conclude that “thieving blabbermouoth layabout” is the counter position to “honesty, loyalty and dilligence” being excercised for the principle benefit of the employer.

        Way I see it, attributes such as honesty, dilligence and loyalty are for the sake of my co-workers and (where appropraite) customers/consumers – not the employer. Not saying they won’t benefit after some incidental fashion. But they ain’t the reason or focus of those traits.

        My focus for them has always been to unionise the workplace to the very best of my ability in order to keep the buggers in line.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3

        See, I look at it like this:

        To the employer I owe honesty and diligence. To the other workers I owe those plus loyalty. That means that if I get a better option then I’m going to tell the employer to fuck off and put a shout on for the workers.

        In a free-market there is no room for loyalty to the boss.

  4. Bill 4

    Would have added this as an ‘edit’ to my previous comment if I could have.

    Anyway, if your reading this Helen, do you have any thoughts on why unions don’t have a plethora of literature/information on the formation of worker co-ops or collectives?

    And any thoughts on why, after over a hundred years of this shit, that unions are still not in a position to arm workers with the necessary knowledge and confidence to assume control and ownership of companies that announce lay-offs or shut downs?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Bill. Worker co-ops and democratically run collective enterprises do not require unions. You don’t need to negotiate with the boss when you are the boss.

      For instance, in Spain, the Mondragon collective corporation has occasionally been accused of not strongly backing worker movements and unions in general. And why would they if workers choose their own senior managers and supervisors, amongst democratically making other major business decisions.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        No, worker co-ops and collectives don’t need unions. But unions could (and in my mind should ) arm workers with the necessary support and knowledge to move away from undemocratic – vertically divided – work environments.

        And if they were serious, then the ‘threat’ of worker control becomes a very effective leverage in negotiations.

        As for Mongradon and many similar enterprises that call themselves cooperatives – the persistence of a vertical division of labour kind of puts the lie to that claim. (Not saying they aren’t doing some things better, but….)

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Well, Mondragon doesn’t just “call” itself a co-op, it actually is a worker owned co-op, legally and in practice, there’s no if’s or buts about that.

          As for the “vertical division of labour” issue – I’ve got no issue if a co-op has hierarchical elements in how it’s organised and run, as long as it’s also highly democratic. Worker-owners being able to vote in and vote out both their CEO and immediate supervisor for instance.

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            Perhaps not the thread for this discussion, CV. But the presence of any heirarchy has an inverse affect on democracy. Like you say, elements of democracy can be preserved, but that’s not the same as having democracy – it’s just making a heirachy less undemocratic than it could be.

            And so what if workers can vote people in and out of positions of power if those in power have a monopoly on the information people need in order to cast intelligent votes (and can be selective on what info is released or the spin put on info that is released)? And it’s no use saying that iinfo is freely available and just has to be requested, if most people are unaware of exactly what information exists. Or – in instances of voting where a depth and breadth of knowledge doesn’t come into play – who wants to partake in the bullshit number games and struggles necessary to progress up heirachical structures?

            It’s all unnecessary if the right (ie, democratic) structures are developed and put in place.

            Said this in simlar discussions. Preserve the functions – but don’t assign them as exclusive or individual roles. Then you have pre-empted any potential for individuals or cliques to gather power into themselves.

  5. Olwyn 5

    An excellent post. One important thing the LWC has done is to identify what a living wage actually is. Once a benchmark is in place the numbers can be updated to accord with changing conditions, but importantly, on the narrative level, just having that benchmark knocks a hole in the story that says “You must work, but we will decide your pay on our criteria, with no reference to yours.” What is odd is that we have sunk so low that we now need to re-harness the concept of “earning a living” to the concept of “work.”

    • AsleepWhileWalking 5.1

      What is odd is “the narrative pushed by business and government is that work is a charity” where workers should be grateful to be offered job, but these same groups will be quick to defend the idea of letting the market decide while insisting on minimum pay.

      Clearly workers aren’t grateful for minimum wages for a skilled job, especially in an area where accommodation costs are skyrocketing things still aren’t fixed. Shocker!

  6. chris73 acualy is Dolan 6

    “Living wage”, is this because the minimum wage campaign fizzled to nothin?

    [lprent: do you want me to fix the spelling mistake in your current apparently meaningless handle? ]

    • bad12 6.1

      What exactly is that supposed to mean???…

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 6.1.1

        bda12 pls…

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Sure of course, that’s exactly how it happened :roll:

          • chris73 acualy is Dolan 6.1.1.1.1

            I just find it interesting the living wage campaign kicked off after the minimum wage campaign seemed to go nowhere, of course it could just be all a big coincidence…

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Allow me to assure you, no one expected the National Government to enact a $15/hr minimum wage.

              So the fact that Key hasn’t lifted the minimum wage to $15/hr is not some kind of set back.

              • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                Still I got to give credit where its due, change the name of something so it sounds “good” and who could possibly vote against something that sounds so “good”

                I can see the headlines “National don’t want kiwis to make a living…”

                Simple but eefective

                • David

                  Yep, semantics like that I have no problem with, National are the masters at framing the debate to suit themselves. So payback is a cruel beeatch mate, our income inequality makes for sobering statistics to read, but hey sure, inequality and poverty have nothing to do with poor crime, health and falling education statistics.

                • Except this isn’t just an empty marketing spin like National does. They’ve actually calculating how much you need to earn to be able to afford to live in a modest but reasonable fashion and said “why isn’t everyone paying at least this much?”

                  It’s an eminently reasonable question and National can’t answer it because their philosophy insists that the facts are wrong and that low wages are somehow good, because otherwise you wouldn’t have a job. (which is ridiculous, wages pay for other people’s jobs in the first place- you can’t get profits if nobody else pays their workers enough to afford your product, unless you’re marketing entirely to the elite property owner) Newsflash: facts can’t be wrong, at best you can argue with the “modest” part, but honestly, having a little money to pay for library fees and to be able to afford taking some unpaid time off occassionally is not unreasonable.

          • bad12 6.1.1.1.2

            We probably shouldn’t be giving this thing oxygen, it’s obviously acting to mock the post…

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    While urging people to come and undertake a state provided training in construction, on the pay issue it says:

    Each employer sets their own pay rates and will decide what your wages will be .

    Well that’s clear enough!

    And if you’re in Auckland that going to mean that you’re a dependent contractor and so the probable rates will likely be below minimum wage once you take everything else into account. Of course, contractors don’t have protections such as minimum wage.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    The narrative pushed by business and government is that work is a charity. The business is the benefactor providing jobs as a community service – to be honoured and recognised. That workers are the beneficiaries – the recipients of the charity – for which they should be grateful and deferential and not bite the hand that feeds them. They are lucky to have a job!

    Yep, setting our society up to be dependent upon the capitalists, other wise known as The Road to Serfdom.

    Even the Living Wage group are getting it wrong as they’re still looking at things through a capitalist mindset. I know it’s hard to get out of that delusion but people really do need to ask What is the economy for and what limits does it have? If people don’t ask those questions then their answers are always going to be wrong.

    It’s not, and can’t be, about a Living Wage any more. It can’t be about everyone going off to make a few people richer while being being given a pat on the head. We have so much productivity today that if we supplied only what we needed then the majority of people would be out of work and, under the current system, living in poverty.

    We need to change the system.

    • chris73 acualy is Dolan 8.1

      Ok so you’ve changed the system now what? Some people are born smarter, faster, more hard working etc etc than others, some people genuinely deserve more than others because of what they’ve achieved

      How will you/would you reconcile that with making sure everyone is better off

      • Bill 8.1.1

        On what basis are you rewarding people Chris? Innate ability (ie, a lucky throw of ‘gene dice’) or social contribution? Seems from your comment that you just don’t differentiate between the two. And unless you do, then a sensible system of reward will be impossible to envisage.

        • chris73 acualy is Dolan 8.1.1.1

          Ok so John Key went to uni, maybe he had a natural affinity with numbers maybe just natural ability for hard work (probably helped by his moms example) but hes amassed a fortune well in excess of what most people need

          Does he “deserve” his fortune?

          • David 8.1.1.1.1

            Present knowledge would indicate his ability with numbers is grossly over-inflated. Do you get your news from a different source than the rest of us?

            • chris73 acualy is Dolan 8.1.1.1.1.1

              A personal estimated fortune of 50 million suggests otherwise, don’t let petty jealousies cloud your judgement

              • Colonial Viper

                $50m in personal fortune doesn’t matter to the country

                The ability to correctly count new jobs as predicted in his Budgets does

                • David

                  Spot on there Mr Viper, doesn’t matter a jot. Still not sure where my petty jealousies came out, could you clarify for me? I’m missing some synapses here, but not as many as Chris, he spells mum as mom, says it all really.

                  • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                    “Present knowledge would indicate his ability with numbers is grossly over-inflated.”
                    – The guy made 50 million and he started from a less than humble background (no inheritance) to me that suggests that he is good with numbers (or at least very good at his job”

                    Yet in spite of this you instead state opinion as if it is fact ie ability with numbers is grossly over-inflated because deep down you know you’ll never be as successful as him (neither will I but I’m ok with that) and thats where the jealousy comes in

                    I must thank you for pointing out my difficulties with spelling, I’ve had issues with learning difficulties in the past but I appreciate you bringing it up especially as it had so much to do with the argument.

                    • felixviper

                      “Yet in spite of this you instead state opinion as if it is fact ie ability with numbers is grossly over-inflated because deep down you know you’ll never be as successful as him (neither will I but I’m ok with that) and thats where the jealousy comes in”

                      Massive assumption there chris. Seems far more likely that he’s basing his belief on Key and his govt fucking up everything they touch, don’tcha reckon?

                      ps can you give me a hint as to the new name?

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1.2

            As he got it by throwing a lot more people into poverty (Helped crash NZ$, helped cause the GFC, etc, etc) so that someone else could get a lot richer than him – nope, he doesn’t deserve a damn thing.

            • chris73 acualy is Dolan 8.1.1.1.2.1

              Yes Draco that’s exactly what he did…nothing to do with the study, long hours, postings to foreign countries

              • Draco T Bastard

                He studied long hours to do exactly what he did – screw over millions for his own personal benefit.

            • Mark 8.1.1.1.2.2

              I thought “crashing” the $NZ was a good thing.. isn’t that what you guys are calling for now?

              • Draco T Bastard

                Depends upon how and why its done. Done for the good of the country and in such a way so as not to hurt the country then it tends to be “good”. Done simply to make someone rich with no consideration to how it would affect the country with the inevitable damage done to the country as what Key did then it comes under the heading of “bad”.

          • Bill 8.1.1.1.3

            Are you suggesting that innate ability be rewarded ‘just because’? That social contributions be ignored or relegated? That luck of birth should determine rewards or potential for rewards?

            By what measure of contribution to society does John Key deserve millions of dollars while most people live in debt – includng many who make obvious and on-going contributions to society’s well being?

            • chris73 acualy is Dolan 8.1.1.1.3.1

              Are you suggesting that innate ability be rewarded ‘just because’? That social contributions be ignored or relegated?
              – Ok so who decides what these contributions are worth and who pays them?

              That luck of birth should determine rewards or potential for rewards?
              – It shouldn’t but for some lucky few it does

              By what measure of contribution to society does John Key deserve millions of dollars while most people live in debt – includng many who make obvious and on-going contributions to society’s well being?

              – Someone decided he was worth what they paid him…how else would you do it?

          • Foreign Waka 8.1.1.1.4

            Yes, if you work 80-odd hrs each week, contribute to the success of a business – why not. Nothing wrong with that. In the same way as some people are very intelligent and work hard others are infinitely stupid and/or lazy. Just hoping we do not use the latter as benchmark.

      • David 8.1.2

        So, those people will do better, be more successful and subscribe to the nbr. Does that mean that everyone else has to scrabble in the dirt for the leavings from the big boys table? Ho! We have the Secretary General of planet Key here! Please sir, can I have some more?

        • chris73 acualy is Dolan 8.1.2.1

          You want more go out and earn more, whats stopping you?

          • Colonial Viper 8.1.2.1.1

            I like your philosophy of individualistic bootstrapping, but it’s also time for government to do its job to sort out the societal and economic roadblocks in the way of community success.

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.2.1.2

            The system that gives all the communities wealth to the few and thus keeps the resources from the use of the many.

          • Puddleglum 8.1.2.1.3

            You want more go out and earn more, whats stopping you?

            Speaking personally, it’s generally my ethics that have stopped me getting as wealthy as Key. What I mean by that, is that I understand the modern economy to be a deliberately designed machine for reproducing capital and wealth – and nothing else. Its process of design and construction required horrendous and widespread violence against millions of ordinary people (e.g., removing people forcibly from the land, colonisation, racist and oppressive laws, etc.).

            That machine – so immorally constructed – now leverages the wealth of the few who are morally and ethically compatible with its basic thrust and priorities. That doesn’t mean that a businessperson goes around treating everyone awfully – but, whether they like to admit it or not, their actions contribute to someone being treated awfully somewhere (e.g., if you out-compete a competitor business so that it goes out of business then a lot of people’s lives can be severely disrupted through no fault of their own).

            I know that some people can rationalise this to themselves by saying words to the effect that, ‘Well, life is just hard like that’, or ‘If I don’t do it somebody else will – so why not me?’, but I can’t. I’ve never been able to opt in to a generally harmful system by saying those sorts of things to myself.

            My incapacity is not laziness, lack of talent, intelligence, insight, innovativeness or even an entrepreneurial spirit – it’s the lack of an amoral/immoral perspective that I can use to go along with what you need to do to ‘succeed’ in our economy.

            • vto 8.1.2.1.3.1

              clap clap clap clap clap clap clap

            • Draco T Bastard 8.1.2.1.3.2

              +1

              Find myself in the same position. I quite literally cannot do what Key does because I know how much harm I’d be causing.

              • karol

                Many people do not have much choice. A person’s life-direction often depends on their family background, local opportunities, and the wider social, historical and economic context. It depends on how much they are supported and/or hindered by others, and the knowledge gain.

                I made a choice way back in my teens, to not follow my immediate family into business, because it seemed to me about accumulating money and contributing to capitalism. I chose to work in the public sector doing things I considered would contribute to society. My siblings are wealthier, but they have studied less. They do work hard and are considerate, caring and helpful people. But I have also worked hard, studied way more than them, and traveled and worked more overseas.

                I was lucky to have a choice due to my background. Others have less choice and just work hard to stand still…. or even go backwards these days. It’s harder for far more people now than it was when I was a young person, and it’s harder than when John Key got his start.

            • Rogue Trooper 8.1.2.1.3.3

              a veritable symphony of Truth

    • Bill 8.2

      Yup. We absolutely need to develop a new economy for a whole host of reasons including the dehumanising impact of workplaces in a market economy context.

      I sometimes wonder at this deeply conservative, well… malaise that seems to permeate NZ society. And it can be somewhat despairing when unions merely echo the thought processes that represent that malaise with calls for employers to ‘be nicer’ and/or ‘reasonable’ and imply that people would and should be content in jobs that are presided over by such ‘nicer’ or more ‘reasonable’ bosses.

      It’s a clear million miles from what we need.

  9. xtasy 9

    As much as I basically support the idea of a “living wage”, and as much I see a real need to first of all start increasing the so-called “minimum wage” to at least $ 15 to $ 16 an hour, I see this campaign not going to succeed, certainly not in present day New Zealand.

    It is based on voluntary participation by employers, and it is suggesting the ones that employ in the public service (therefore the state) to start and lead in introducing it.

    Only if workers start realising that they will only achieve improvements through solid, resolute, firm and collective actions, then will there be any realistic potential for improving the labour laws, wages, salaries and working conditions in NZ. That though I cannot see, in a society driven through endless division, disentitlement, FEAR and intimidation on a daily basis.

    Even when Helen likes to show how “Progressive Enterprises” should be given credit for paying their staff “more”, has she not learned, that they only do this by making the existing staff worker harder, to produce more per hour, minute and movement of a hand? They have not only abolished “Foodtown”, but with “Countdown” brought in more “efficiencies”, that are achieved by their workers. Working conditions have sufferes as a consequence, that is what supermarket staff told me in various markets.

    And we cannot rely on the “goodwill” and “generosity” of an alternative government either, as the pressures of business and employer lobbies will soon be felt by an alternative Labour led government.

    Of course, better wages and conditions mostly will necessitate better performance in various forms, requiring better skills, smarter investments, upskilling and jobs that can deliver better conditions.

    Add to that the “global” scenario, and it is clear, only working together with labour movements across the boarders and through the ILO can improve conditions for all. So it is all nice and positive at first sight, but workers need to take action to bring it about, and that is where Helen and her CTU are needed to organise more and more widely, to get members to change things. Not an easy task this is.

    Nevertheless, it is great to see Helen Kelly write posts like this here on the Standard!

    • Arfamo 9.1

      Very good points xtasy. Still, it’s a campaign that’s gotta start somewhere. This is as good a way as any to start it. People need to be reminded they are part of a shared identity and community with a stake in the success everybody’s futures, not just their own.

      • xtasy 9.1.1

        Yes, Arfamo, at least it raises the awareness in many, what is at least needed for a wage for a worker to pay the basic costs of living, and not be forced to make compromises on accommodation, health, clothing, diet, personal safety, education and many other areas.

        It has started a public debate, even in that otherwise so moronic mainstream media, and that is something positive, where so much else looks so grim anyway.

        It does not solve the “division” and competition and suspicion amongst workers and the population in general, and that is the ground that now really needs to be worked on, to inform, educate, unite, support and empower workers and citizens.

        United we stand, divided we fall, has anybody ever heard of this?

    • Foreign Waka 9.2

      I think the issue starts with hr rates being paid instead of annual income. If the annual net income is set against an actual (please no cars, lawnmowers and beer in the mix) indexed living expense it would count for something. By having a benchmarked set minimum income in conjunction with a lets say 35 hr week it would provide more income to more people. Incidentally, it would put an official number on the actual cost of living to measure the income of beneficiaries and pensioners. Just a thought.

  10. Wayne 10

    Helen, Still obsessed with the Hobbit issue. Presumably you have extracted a cast iron promise from Labour to repeal it. I know the Greens will, but they will do just about anything to prove they are more union friendly than Labour.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Worker unions are a critical part of our society Wayne, and an important part of the balance against the interests of financial capital. That’s why Key remains so intent on undermining unions.

    • felixviper 10.2

      “Helen, Still obsessed with the Hobbit issue.”

      Yeah, still obsessed with employment contract law.

      That’s unionists for you, eh Wayne?

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 10.2.1

        I think its good that she keeps banging on about The Hobbit…I mean its right up there with T. Mallards strategies and Shearers mumblings for helping National

    • xtasy 10.3

      Wayne: You so “hobbitually” comment here, you are “hobbitually” welcome, even if you make little sense.

  11. Helen Kelly 11

    Thanks everyone. Some very interesting feedback (that sounds slimey- sorry!) . The trouble with nothing but a revolution being good enough, is you never start anything. Yes the union movement needs to organise more workers and the Living Wage Campaign is part of that. Yes the economic system is crapping all over working people but it is these types of campaigns that make that point strongly and as I said, create space for new policies. Yes we could spend our time advising workers on co-operatives but the super market workers stacking shelves and paying our wages don’t earn enough to live and they have prioritised this and we have to prioritise. I have been advised not to respond to the Trolls but I am not quite up to spotting them yet, so on the Hobbit, slightly obsessive yes, but it has been bought on by a huge sense of injustice and wrong doing which we continue to expose as more info is released. Speaking of which, the papers shd be released this Friday :)

    • QoT 11.1

      I love this comment.

    • xtasy 11.2

      Thank you Helen –

      well summarised, and I will await that new info on “Hobbitgate” with great interest.

      • chris73 acualy is Dolan 11.2.1

        No one cares about The Hobbit (and I mean the general voting public )so I’ll break it down for you:

        Sir Peter Jackson = respected and liked by the general public so not a good idea to keep on attacking him unless you think flogging a dead horse is a good course of action

        Choose your battles because this is over (unless you want to help National regain power in which case keep on flogging)

        (the invoice is in the mail)

        • felixviper 11.2.1.1

          So when someone is liked and respected we should just turn a blind eye to their employment practices?

          Serious question. (Also you still haven’t given me any hints as to your new name…)

          • chris73 acualy is Dolan 11.2.1.1.1

            Depends, is the loss of votes due to negative publicity worth the fight? You may well win the battle by “proving” something but the ensuing loss of goodwill…

            There are numerous battles that Labour could be fighting so I’d recommend picking the smarter battles.

            I mean attacking the mad butcher and peter jackson is not really the smartest thing they could do.

            If I was advising Labour I’d be saying keep asking the simple question of “are you better off now before or after National took office” and then follow it up with references to rising house prices, unemployment etc etc, keep it nice and simple and don’t get sucked into specifics

            Again the invoice is in the mail :)

            I answered your question above but its under moderation…not sure why

            • felixviper 11.2.1.1.1.1

              “If I was advising Labour I’d be saying keep asking the simple question of “are you better off now before or after National took office” and then follow it up with references to rising house prices, unemployment etc etc, keep it nice and simple and don’t get sucked into specifics”

              Totally agree, I gave Labour exactly this advice in 2011. Still haven’t been paid either. ;)

              However Helen’s job is not to get the Labour Party elected, it’s to represent her members in employment negotiations and disputes.

              This will from time to time involve dealing with employers with a high public profile. Why should this stop her doing her job?

              • chris73 acualy is Dolan

                It shouldn’t but the CTU is linked with Labour so whatever comments she makes is reflected back on Labour.

                I mean isn’t getting into power to make changes the important thing?

                [lprent: Hell I’m “linked” with Labour because I am a NZLP member, so when I abuse you in the course of my duties moderating here then do you think that Labour is persecuting you? I will give you a hint on the answer – read the policy.

                But let us look at you. Hell, you use the same sewerage system as Labour members. Clearly you have dangerous associations as well because you crap in common. And you’re apparently naming yourself after a duck. Does that mean you and Trevor are soul buddies?

                You are using a particularly stupid tinfoil hat argument.. Should I start to use the same logic on you? I’m sure you won’t like that absurdities that I choose to “discover”. But I’d suggest that using that particular style of argument will give me leave to Investigate you as if I was Wishart (ie paid well to do so). ]

            • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1.1.1.2

              Depends, is the loss of votes due to negative publicity worth the fight?

              The only negative publicity would be for Jackson. That’s what happens when you prove to people that someone is an arsehole.

          • Te Reo Putake 11.2.1.1.2

            The answer here, felix:

            http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/287088-dolan

            Not sure if the duck in question is also spelling challenged, acually.

        • One Tāne Huna 11.2.1.2

          Shorter Chris73: everyone has the same opinions as me.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.3

      Not after a revolution, just want people to realise that the present system doesn’t work and so asking for a living wage also doesn’t work as jobs themselves are disappearing. Would prefer to see a campaign for Universal Income, the return of Penal Rates and the acceptance of the limits of the economy.

      • dpalenski 11.3.1

        +1

        Especially if applied to the most anti-social of shift the split shift pretty much at work for 12+ hours but only paid for 8.

    • Roy 11.4

      I think it is perfectly legitimate to keep banging on about The Hobbit because it was such a well-publicized and blatant example of the problems you are concerned about.

  12. Afewknowthetruth 12

    In a globalised world of manipulated exchange rates people in NZ are being paid well above global rates, way beyond what can be sustained, other than by massive borrowing at high interest. NZ cannot compete in manufacturing, in IT or in tourism, and soon won’t be able to compete in dairying or forestry. Once the international bond market goes kaput … and things are working up to that scenario….. jobs -in the present sense of the word- will largely disappear.

    In addition to the dysfunctional globalised employment market there is the matter of Peak Oil, another Elephant in the Room that most people are utterly determined to ignore: declining global extraction of oil is in the process of annihilating status quo economic arrangements, and the rate of demolition of the traditional economy will accelerate appreciably as EROEI falls off the cliff.

    In the meantime a large sector of NZ society believes in better living through denial.

    • Roy 12.1

      With whom will we not be able to compete in dairy or forestry?
      Also, I don’t think ‘global rates’ is a legitimate argument. It sounds more like an argument in favour of a race to the bottom.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1

        Also, I don’t think ‘global rates’ is a legitimate argument. It sounds more like an argument in favour of a race to the bottom.

        It is a race to the bottom but you’ll note that it’s the argument used by the farmers for why we pay so much for food produced here despite the fact that it costs less to buy elsewhere.

    • Foreign Waka 12.2

      Rubbish, unless you mean compete with India and 3rd world countries. Labor conditions and sustainable living standard has more to do with political will than with anything else. It is the moral and ethical bankruptcy of the financial class that gets people into poverty. History and current affairs is teaching us that fact every day. Why do we think NZ is any different?

  13. john ryall 13

    Good post Helen.

    The significance of the Living Wage Movement internationally is that it doesn’t just focus on big corporates and public bodies paying the living wage to their direct employees, but incorporating the living wage as a basis of their procurement policies. That means cleaning, security and other contractors have to compete for contracts on the basis of paying the living wage to their employees and ensuring it is paid by any sub-contractors as well.

    The living wage movment is a challenge to the massive income inequality that has developed in New Zealand in the last 30 years.

    While the Government is saying that the answer to higher wages is for economic growth to trickle down to wage levels at the bottom, the living wage movement is saying that it is time to measure all economic policies on the basis of whether they provide wages for New Zealand workers that are not just enough to survive on but to allow working families to participate in their school, family, church and other community activities.

  14. Rogue Trooper 14

    Love Helen Kelly yet i am still not “seeing” $18 an hour being paid without a “second coming”

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