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A decent job with fair pay

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 am, April 15th, 2008 - 30 comments
Categories: labour, national, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

2That’s what the labour movement is all about: ensuring that people who want to work can find jobs and that they receive fair reward for their labour in decent conditions, so they can afford a good standard of living for themselves and their families. A job gives people a sense of purpose, a feeling that they are part of society, useful.

Good wages and conditions make people feel respected and enable a decent standard of living. With employment comes lower crime, fewer suicides, better health, and a dozen other better social outcomes. Work enables people to fulfill everyone’s most basic dream: a good life for themselves and the ones they care about.

The right-wing destroyed that dream for many New Zealanders in the 1980s and 1990s. From 1988, the number of New Zealanders with jobs started falling even as the population kept growing. Things got worse under National: it wasn’t until 1996 that the number of kiwis with jobs reached the same level as in 1988, there were many more unemployed. Those that did have jobs often had worse pay and conditions. National’s record on employment is pathetic; the number of jobs grew only 29,000 a year on average.

166,000 people were on the unemployment benefit when Labour came to power; 166,000 people whose potential was being wasted. The lead priority of the Labour-led governments has been fixing this problem; 47,000 jobs a year have been added. Wages have grown 25% after inflation in eight years. Reports from the Labour Party congress are that the biggest applause of all came when Helen Clark announced that the number of people on the unemployment benefit is now less than 20,000, the lowest number since 1979. An astounding achievement, of which Labour and the labour movement can be justifiably proud.

30 comments on “A decent job with fair pay”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Credit where credit’s due it is good news that there are less people on the unemployment benefit.

    SP do you have the figures for sickness and invalid and the DPB as well – and no I’m not trying to bait you I honestly don’t know which way these are moving and I believe it’s important to look at them all before forming an opinion.

    Just a link to where I can find them myself would be fine.

    Thanks

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    HS. Benefit faxsheets Dec 2007

    for some reason, the number under 20,000 (which must be march quarter) is not on the MSD site yet. I also saw somewhere, can’t remember where, that the number on sickness is fallen below 45,000.

    There’s a post looking at overall benefit numbers on kiwiblogblog – here it is

    [lprent: remind me at some stage to put a page up about how to post links. Fixed these so they don’t fall all over my screen.]

  3. Steve Pierson 3

    those kbb fellas love their graphs, here’s one on long-term beneficaires

  4. The right-wing destroyed that dream for many New Zealanders in the 1980s and 1990s. From 1988, the number of New Zealanders with jobs started falling even as the population kept growing.

    First of all, in the years 1984-90, Labour was in government, which proves that Labour is not so hot on the employment side of life as you would like your shallow-minded lefties to believe. Rather your analysis is insulting to independent and intelligent thought. Perhaps a more intelligent examination would actually have admitted that during the 1980s and 90s, the New Zealand economy was going through a bit of a fiscal slump and part of that is the unfortunate premise of that slump is high unemployment. No one is denying that unemployment is a bad thing, but really to blame National as the sole reason for unemployment is just pathetic.

    With employment comes lower crime, fewer suicides, better health, and a dozen other better social outcomes.

    Dude, you are so, so wrong here. If higher employment somehow miraculously equates to lower crime, lower suicides and better health then what the hell has gone wrong? Since Labour came into power in 1999 and the astonishing decrease in unemployment, violent crime has risen over 43%, grievous assaults up 93%, robberies up 65%; serious assaults up 53%, while sex crimes have risen by 18%; New Zealand has one of the highest rates of suicide in the OCED at a rate of 13.2 people in every 100,000 killing themselves; our health system is in pieces as waiting lists have grown longer, there are no beds and the extra $5 billion in spending has done nothing to assist the health crisis in New Zealand. So where exactly are the benefits you so wilfully scatter to your adoring mass of fellow unionists?

    166,000 people were on the unemployment benefit when Labour came to power; 166,000 people whose potential was being wasted.

    Yes, now their potential is being wasted on Sickness and Illness Benefits. Well done Labour. Worse still all your statistics are references to Clark’s speeches or other Standard posts, not to Statistics New Zealand or any other creditable source.

    Your post will be welcomed by pro-Labour friends and family, but it will do nothing to convince swingers or honest New Zealanders who have seen New Zealand deteriorate since the first Clark-led government.

    But no fear, she’ll be gone in a short while.

  5. Phil 5

    “Wages have grown 25% after inflation in eight years”

    Umm… No.

    I saw the previous post with the blue/red graph, but didn’t have time to do my own digging until now.

    From Sep quarter 1999 to Dec quarter 2007, real salary and wages (as measured by the Labour Cost Index and adjusted for inflation using the CPI) actually FELL 1.1%.
    However, the LCI is not a complete picture – it excludes salary and wages changes derived from “quality change”, things like increased performance of the employee, increased hours worked etc etc.

    So, my next step was to take a look at Average Hourly Earnings, as produced by the Quarterly Employment Survey. For the same period (Sep 99 to Dec 07) Average Hourly Earnings increased 6.9% – less than 1% per year under Labour.

    For the record, the same inflation adjustment to Ave Hrly Erngs for the period Sep90 to Sep99 shows a 7.4% increase, which indicates a minor victory to the Blue corner

  6. Tane 6

    HS, I’ve got a post I’ve been meaning to put up since last year on benefit numbers. I’ll get it together at some point…

  7. Scribe 7

    What Hoolian said.

    [lprent: This isn’t a blog for voting on anything, it is a forum for comment. Don’t waste bandwidth.]

  8. even 8

    That’s completely gaga.

    NZ society has continued to un-ravel under the labour govts mis-management.
    Our fastest growing industry is or close to the property market yet we are at historic lows in home ownership. Debt is rampent, finance holds controling aspects in every part of of society, work is not abut work and contributing to nz society, its about chasing debt based money and working longer hours.

    We should be a rich society, and a world leading democracy with a wide distribution of wealth and increasing leisure time.

    Labour havn’t rolled back the accelerated mis-management that started with Roger Douglas, in fact they have resorted to FTA’s with the worlds leading slave plantation in order to try and keep the books balanced.

    By Cullens, own admission back in the day-a skeleton he’s probably forgotten about, the monetary system is a con and makes fools out of the people.

    One of the few things going for labour is they arn’t National…..well we could find wiser leadership in a random sample from a kindergarten for that.

    DSC 08.

  9. Steve Pierson 9

    Hoolin. Ask any criminologist, sociologist or anyone who has studied the subject if unemployment and crime are related. In fact just think about it for a moment, who is more likely to commit a crime – someone with a job and an income or someone without one. In fact – go to stats.govt.nz – take the crime figures and the unemployment figures and see how they run together. as for the benefit numbers look at the links I gave HS on overall benefit numbers, you don’t know what you are talking about.

    phil. real incomes are up, don’t be silly. the labour cost index is about the most stupid metric you could choose to measure peoples incomes. for starters, it doesn’t reflect employment levels or work hours.

  10. Stephen 10

    Hoolian, I would say that “the years 1984-90, Labour was in government, ” WERE part of the er, “right wing dream”, it’s just that that version of Labour was carrying those policies out…

  11. Indeed unemployment has fallen significantly over the last 8 years. This however may well be in part explained by the large increase in emigration to Australia over the same period.

    It is also of interest that productivity has consistently dropped over the last 8 years after growing in the second half of the nineties. Higher productivity is what it takes to get higher wages.

  12. Stephen 12

    You’re saying it’s not skilled people, but the unemployed moving to Australia?

  13. Steve Pierson 13

    mawgxxxiv. provide some statistical proof.

    The number of employed people in New Zealand has risen dramtically under labour, having stagnated under National. It’s the subject of my next post.

    Productivity has not dropped, either. God, you’re living in an information vacuum filled only be farrar. The rate of productivity growth is lower but that’s inevitable when you are bringing in every worker and every piece of capital you can (including the lower quality ones) becuase the economy has grown so fast all the slack that National created in the 1990s is gone.

    Productivity gowth is a crappy measure of appropriate wage growth.

  14. “…productivity has consistently dropped over the last 8 years after growing in the second half of the nineties. Higher productivity is what it takes to get higher wages.”

    The reason for the rise in productivity over the 1990s was the rise in unemployment, combined with Pinochet-style labour laws. More unskilled/less skilled workers typically are the first to end up out of work when the economy slumps.
    There is only growth in the remaining employment sector because in eras of high unemployment the retained staff are more productive on average than the unemployed. I’m sure Robert Mugabe could say that his workforce had high productivity in exactly the same manner.

    To improve overall productivity requires investment in technology, staff, and operational procedure by both government and the private sector. National’s laseizz-faire style of government did much harm to overall productivity potentiality.

    When the Right pushes productivity as an excuse for low wages, it is astonishingly hypocritical because they have undertaken measures which restrict the growth of productivity in order to keep wages down – i.e. scrapping the old Apprenticeship scheme.

  15. Irrespective of whether it is skilled or unskilled people moving to Australia a reduction of the unemployment rate down to the levels we are seeing now means that those unemployed entering the workforce are likely to be the least skilled and therefore least productive. Given the Labour governments generous in-work benefit payments it is unlikely they are contributing anything to the tax-take. Given their low skill level it is unlikely they contributing very much to the overall wealth of the economy.

    Productivity is the important issue here not employment. More people creating less wealth and therefore earning less is not the answer to our economic woes. The Labour government by increasing the size of the unproductive core bureaucracy, increasing compliance costs and putting more of the tax burden onto the productive sector and individuals has stifled growth as indicated by the substantial fall in productivity.

  16. Steve Pierson 16

    so, mawg… is for higher unemployment?

    you forget that the economy is for society, not the other way around – jobs give people a sense of purpose and belonging, people with jobs are happier, they are less likely to beat their kids and more liekly to help them learn to read. People with an income and something to do with their time are less likely to steal, less likely to abuse drugs, etc etc.

    Work is a good in itself that leads to a whole lot of other good outcomes. It is not just people acting as cogs in a machine so that the machine can spin faster.

  17. r0b 17

    Hoolian’s post of 1:02 pm is chock full of nonsense.

    Re the claim: “With employment comes lower crime, fewer suicides, better health, and a dozen other better social outcomes” Hoolian writes Dude, you are so, so wrong here. If higher employment somehow miraculously equates to lower crime, lower suicides and better health then what the hell has gone wrong?

    Nothing has gone wrong Hoolian, it’s just that your claims are nonsense.

    Since Labour came into power in 1999 and the astonishing decrease in unemployment, violent crime has risen over 43%, grievous assaults up 93%, robberies up 65%; serious assaults up 53%, while sex crimes have risen by 18%;

    Although reporting rates for some kinds of crime are up (domestic violence, following strong advertising campaigns), crime overall is falling.

    http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20082702-16956-2.html

    Crime continues to fall

    New Zealand has one of the highest rates of suicide in the OCED at a rate of 13.2 people in every 100,000 killing themselves;

    The NZ rate is high but falling. Please do not perpetuate the lie that it is climbing, because that becomes part of the problem. Please actually read:

    http://www.chmeds.ac.nz/newsevents/articles/suicidedecline.htm

    our health system is in pieces as waiting lists have grown longer

    Our Health system is rated by international agencies as one of the best in the world, ahead of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. See the report here:

    http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=364436

    166,000 people were on the unemployment benefit when Labour came to power; 166,000 people whose potential was being wasted.

    Yes, now their potential is being wasted on Sickness and Illness Benefits. Well done Labour.

    From memory the number on sickness benefits is less than 29,000. The unemployed have not just moved to other benefits, that is a lie. The number of working age people on benefits is at a low and still falling:

    http://kiwiblogblog.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/numeracy-for-nnickc/

    Worse still all your statistics are references to Clark’s speeches or other Standard posts, not to Statistics New Zealand or any other creditable source.

    Sorry Hoolian, all the above is backed up by independently sourced stats (follow back the sources in The Standard or KBB links). In short, Hoolian, social benefits are accruing around falling unemployment exactly as predicted. In your list of negativity I don’t know if you are lying or simply ill informed, but I do know that you are wrong wrong wrong.

  18. even 18

    The policy of increasing productivity and employment as the goal of an economic system is the real problem, and is a direct consequence of a disastrous and outdated financial system superceeded on to the actual physical economy which it hamstrings from providing for everyone.

    The scientific goal of a modern productive system would be that of consumption and the distribution of that consumption through out the whole society with an emphasis on decreasing the amount of time the individuals in society have to sub-ordinate themselves to the organisation of this which renders them inpersonal cogs.

    Only through replacing the debt based financial system with credit as a public utility, like water is for example, will it enable work to become a vocation for the worker. THen we will be able to achieve a society governed on natural consequences and not artificial reward/pusnishment systems and bureaucracy.

    Democrats for Social Credit.
    DSC 08.

  19. r0b 19

    My memory is faulty, the number on sickness benefits as of March this year is 45,676, but it is falling slowly, not rising (unemployed are not being moved to this benefit).

  20. Wage growth without an increase in productivity is inflation.

  21. Matthew Pilott 21

    Given the Labour governments generous in-work benefit payments it is unlikely they are contributing anything to the tax-take. Given their low skill level it is unlikely they contributing very much to the overall wealth of the economy.

    What are you trying to say here, mawgxxxxiv?

    The first part has some merit perhaps, if the worker has children, Labour’s generous WFF policy means that they are likely paying $0 tax if they are on a very low income. As a plus, they are not on a benefit – we can all agree that’s a good thing surely.

    As for the second point, you are either saying that companies employ people to dig holes and fill them in again, or that you have such an elitist attitude to those around you that you believe those performing menial/low income tasks are worthless.

    Which is a pretty scummy attitude to have, but you’re entitled to it.

    P.S have you fallen lock, stock and cranuim for Key’s “core bureaucracy” spin? For shame.

    And let’s not even start on compliance costs… (i.e. would we be the easiest counrty in the world to do business with otherwise? I think not.)

  22. Steve Pierson 22

    mag. not if the money for higher wages comes out of profits. (i can hear you gasp for breath)

    Fact is, in the rightwing economic revolution, the portion of GDP that went on wages decreased, allowing profts to increase. That injustice needs redressing through higher wages coming out of profits.

    captcha: ‘known, shunned’ – the public’s reaction to Roger Douglas’s reincarnation?

  23. Leftie 23

    mawgxxxxiv

    “Wage growth without an increase in productivity is inflation.”

    What do you call productivity increases without wage growth then? A bad employer?

  24. even 24

    NO, inflation is a concurrent rise in prices and income(money to spend side).
    It is simply a multi-plication of figures without altering the relation between money-to-spend and price, and it is a tax on savings.

    Now if you can accept that you didn’t know that…then you can accept that you don’t really know how the monetary system works, and that you are in the vast majority of the population for this gap of knowledge about something that is in front of everyone every single day and is the life blood of any economy.

    And then, mayby, your mind can be abit more open and you can competently do a bit more research about the subject.

    DSC 08.

  25. Hoolian 25

    Hoolin. Ask any criminologist, sociologist or anyone who has studied the subject if unemployment and crime are related. In fact just think about it for a moment, who is more likely to commit a crime – someone with a job and an income or someone without one.

    What makes you think that I am not a criminologist, sociologist etc? I’m not actually negating that fact, what I’m highlighting is that violent crime has risen despite unemployment dropping. While it may work in the theoretical circles of the Left, it doesn’t correlate in reality. Surprise, surprise.

    rOb

    Thank God for some real information. I totally disagree with you, but I admire your independent research. In reply to your points:

    CRIME
    Although reporting rates for some kinds of crime are up (domestic violence, following strong advertising campaigns), crime overall is falling.

    I have no idea why you think strong advertising campaigns are to blame for domestic violence, but whatever. So while crime is down, all other crimes are up.

    RE: ScienceAlert story: Julia Tolmie states “What has changed is that the amount of people who are being prosecuted and the sentences that they are getting have both increased.” So, this is debasing the claim crime is up, how? Basically she claims to defy Stats New Zealand whose data shows that crimes are up, and not with any data of her own, just a vast ‘difference of opinion’ i.e she claims rather than crime being up, just more people are going to jail. This appears to reinforce that crime is up.

    SUICIDE
    On your link to Uni of Otago’s Associate Professor Annette Beautrais: She says These significant reductions in suicide rates over the last decade are likely to have occurred because of strategic action based on robust research by Associate Professor Beautrais and others, the development of prevention and treatment strategies, and a focus particularly on youth suicide (15-24).

    What she does say is that suicides are reducing. I’ll give you that. I was misinformed, but she also says is that suicide rates have been dropping for a decade which takes us back into the anti-employment regime of National-led governments and she does not give low unemployment as a reason for a reduction in suicides rather other reasons. Thus, Steve Peirson’s original argument doesn’t stand up.

    HEALTH

    Your sidetracks to ‘independent’ information are a nice way of increasing knowledge but it does little to help your cause. According to the “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” article and survey, NZ doesn’t do that well; the article only refers to New Zealand a handful of times and one of those times is bad news. “Across the indicators of effectiveness, the U.S. ranked first and New Zealand ranked last” Also, our health system is more like the Scandinavian countries and they do not feature in the survey, so poorly done.

    In addition to all my points of debate above, none of the information you have shown actually supports the argument that “With employment comes lower crime, fewer suicides, better health, and a dozen other better social outcomes.” In fact, all your sources prove the total opposite. See, isn’t independent information great? It doesn’t spin at the rate the Standard spider does.

    While I applaud your use of independent research, I detest your use of it to fashion it to fit your vision. I’m sorry that the reality is so much more frightening.

  26. Phil 26

    “phil. real incomes are up, don’t be silly. the labour cost index is about the most stupid metric you could choose to measure peoples incomes. for starters, it doesn’t reflect employment levels or work hours.”

    Sorry, I missed this one from you Steve… apparently the same way you missed the second half of my not too long post. I agree with you about the LCI (in fact, I even said as much…)

    I agree with you that real incomes are up, but the 25% that you claimed in the OP is plain and simple lies with no grounding in reality.

    Real average hourly have increased 6.9% during Labours time in power, compared to the National governments 7.4% in the 1990’s.

  27. r0b 27

    Thank God for some real information. I totally disagree with you, but I admire your independent research.

    OK Hoolian, appreciate your constructive attitude.

    CRIME

    I have no idea why you think strong advertising campaigns are to blame for domestic violence, but whatever.

    Please read what I wrote carefully. What we hear about is reported crime which bears some unknown relationship to real crime rates (reported and unreported). If reported crime goes up it may be because real crime goes up (with constant reporting) or it may be because the reporting rate goes up.

    The suggestion is that the current increase in reported domestic crime may have been prompted by the advertising campaign, which draws attention to the issue and highlights the fact that it’s not OK. It seems likely that this has increased reporting rates (it seems unlikely that it has increased the real underlying rate). See eg:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=10501512

    So while crime is down, all other crimes are up.

    Ahhh, what? Crime rates are down as per my original post.

    SUICIDE

    What she does say is that suicides are reducing. I’ll give you that. I was misinformed, but she also says is that suicide rates have been dropping for a decade which takes us back into the anti-employment regime of National-led governments

    8.5 years of the last decade have been under Labour led governments, and suicide rates have been falling. I don’t think we can sensibly make a case either way about figures for the initial 1.5 years of “a decade”.

    and she does not give low unemployment as a reason for a reduction in suicides rather other reasons. Thus, Steve Peirson’s original argument doesn’t stand up.

    Of course she doesn’t give reasons, the article isn’t about reasons for suicide. Steve’s argument (that social indicators improve with falling unemployment) stands up fine (whether unemployment is explicitly mentioned or not).

    HEALTH

    NZ doesn’t do that well; the article only refers to New Zealand a handful of times and one of those times is bad news.

    NZ came second overall (ahead of head of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada), but by all means pick the one scale that we did worst in and focus on that! Read past the Executive Summary and you will see that in sub scales of effectiveness we did very well (second best on “prevention’), and that in general the differences are minor – all the countries surveyed are effective at this level.

    Demand for health services is endless, the funding is limited, and so the system will never be perfect. But it is damned good. And all these attempts to beat up a “crisis’ and make political capital out of it should be recognised for exactly what they are.

    SUMMARY

    In fact, all your sources prove the total opposite.

    Ahhh – what? One of us has serious reading comprehension problems.

    While I applaud your use of independent research, I detest your use of it to fashion it to fit your vision.

    Hoolian, you are the one who has made a bunch of claims that aren’t true, not me. You started your post well, why are you descending into this kind of nonsense?

    I’m sorry that the reality is so much more frightening.

    Oh please. Grow a fact or two, or give it up.

  28. ak 28

    Well done rOb, especially on how you maintain your equilibrium with these people. I’m afraid my own patience doesn’t compare.

    Hoolian, by his own admission, looked at your link to the Commonwealth Fund report and cannot have failed to see the prominent table on the first page ranking NZ’s health system second in the world, yet had the temerity to immediately write “According to the “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall’ article and survey, NZ doesn’t do that well; the article only refers to New Zealand a handful of times….”

    Unbelieveable. I mean we’ve seen the whole gamut of ranting fruitcakes in this medium, but I have to say this really takes the biscuit for sheer, bare-faced, out-and-out lying.
    Congratulations Hoolian, you’ve raised even these crusty old eyebrows: I thought I’d seen it all but you make ravers like D4J and burt look like trustworthy pillars of respectability, and what’s worse I’ve seen you on other threads invoking christian values.
    And don’t bother to make up a reply: sorry old son, but I can no longer believe a single word you might say.

  29. r0b 29

    Well done rOb, especially on how you maintain your equilibrium with these people. I’m afraid my own patience doesn’t compare

    To tell you the truth ak it doesn’t take much effort. We deal with the same nonsense time after time here. I build up a library of useful text and links, then just paste it in by the numbers. Ho hum.

  30. Watching John Key questioning Helen Clark yesterday about fall in productivity growth under Labour it was interesting to note that that the measure of productivity used by Clark did not include the state sector. If the state is left out then the productivity numbers look much better however that appears to be a trifle misleading.

    Given that public service staff has increased from around 28,000 in 2000 to around 43,000 now it is hardly surprising that productivity growth has declined. Furthermore government imposed costs on business like ‘4 weeks annuual leave’ would have had further negative impacts on productivity.

    With all these additional state employees to support it is perhaps not surprising that the ‘tax burden days’ have increased by 20 since 2000. It is useful to compare this with Australia where the the ‘ tax burden’ has remained flat.

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