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An embarrassing effort

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 pm, March 27th, 2008 - 36 comments
Categories: Media, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Ever since the Herald lost its rag over the EFA I’ve come to expect little more than half-truths and inaccuracies from its editorials, but today’s effort was particularly disappointing.

Business NZ press release in one hand and a keyboard in the other, the Herald had itself all wound up over suggestions that proposed minimum entitlements to meal and refreshment breaks might compel workers to take breaks against their will.

Of course, this concern might be valid if it were even remotely true, but it’s not. As this blog and others have noted, minimum entitlements simply provide a right to take a break, not a compulsion to do so; a rather simple concept that renders the Herald’s entire argument nonsensical.

A few paragraphs in and the Herald was at it again, claiming the change will be “largely academic” because collective agreements “currently govern rest and meal breaks for most workers.” This is just idiotic. Collective agreements cover only 20% of New Zealand workers, and just 12% in the private sector that’s why the legislation is being introduced in the first place.

The Herald went on to argue that because refreshment breaks have not been guaranteed in law it ‘probably suggests little need was seen for it.’ Again, this is bollocks. The right to meal and refreshment breaks was enshrined in law for most of the last century and was only taken away in the 1990s when National abolished the Awards system and repealed the Factories and Commercial Premises Act.

I know it’s basic stuff, but you’d think the senior editorial staff at our country’s largest daily could at least get their facts right. This kind of effort is just embarrassing for everyone.

36 comments on “An embarrassing effort ”

  1. And the truly embarrassing part is that most of those journalists that you just slagged off will be EPMU members.

  2. Also, if the law isn’t needed because workers already get the breaks, WHY is business NZ objecting to it? If Business NZ is standing up for its members who currently don’t provide the breaks, then that’s also a good reason for the law! They can’t win this one.

  3. r0b 3

    Dear Whale, There’s a difference between journalists en masse and “senior editorial staff”. One of the above deserves slagging off and other doesn’t.

    But since you’re concerned about The Herald journalists, what do you make of their letter to management expressing their concern that The Herald management sold out to pressure from John Key and silenced one of its own journalists?

    Journalists react to attack on media freedom

    Our concern arises from your management interference in an editorial decision of a newspaper. Our concern is heightened by the fact that your action was on behalf of a political party.

    And what do you make of the fact that the Editorial Tane refers to seems to have been painfully ill informed?

  4. r0b 4

    Harpoon – does your nickname intentionally follow Whale, or was that just one of life’s little cosmic jokes?

  5. Policy Parrot 5

    If the whole objection to the reforms is that they are simply unnecessary because most employers offer these already – why would there be any problem with the government putting these rights into statute?
    It wont cost those businesses who give their employees, their minimum required break or more – only those who violate those rights. Surely, it is in the interest of the firms that do offer fair breaks that they are not exposed to unfair competition from those who don’t.

    So I ask again – why oppose, when they should be embracing this.

  6. John 6

    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    That’s the Herald’s motto and it is a good one for a tabloid. I guess the Herald is free to go after that market, if they want, but I don’t think that’s what most subscribers expect.

    The growing tabloid nature of the Herald and John Key’s back room dealings with the Herald’s owners (e.g. the Slippery John, I Want NZers Wages to Fall fiasco) make the Herald a growing joke. Do we really want the Sunday Herald every day?

    The Herald owners and editors may be selling their souls for an ACT/National government, but New Zealanders are pretty smart. They see through it.

  7. Pablo 7

    Labour is playing a smart game, isn’t it. Introduce legislation that increases worker rights, let the Nats oppose, hey presto, National is once again the anti-worker party. I won’t say “fomenting class war”, but someone will.

  8. higherstandard 8

    Tane

    I think you have missed the point of the editorial.

    The Herald endorses the proposal…

    Employees in such workplaces should have the same right to minimum breaks as workers who operate under standard collective agreements. It is fair that they are enshrined in the law.

    But asks that the Law be intelligible and sensible…

    It does no harm now, however, to plug any gap, provided the new law is not tainted by inflexibility. The same yardstick must apply to breastfeeding. Reasonableness must be the foremost factor for both employer and employee.

    Certainly it would not be the first case in NZ where a law had been passed and then found that several months down the track it was poorly conceived and had to be ammended.

    If I had chosen to read your post and not check the editorial I would have come away thinking the Herlad was anti the law change which would be incorrect and akin to posting on the Herald and Stuff’s stories regarding the Maori flag and Maori language today and suggesting the persons invloved are racist.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10500599
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4454041a10.html

  9. mike 9

    Once again Labour is Governing to the lowest denominator.
    Most managers are happy to be flexible with breaks and hours etc but along come nanny state labour and put laws into place that ultimately stimy the flexibility.

  10. Tane 10

    HS, of course the Herald doesn’t openly oppose the law change, neither does Business NZ – to do so would be untenable.

    What they do is uncritically repeat Business NZ’s scaremongering then raise doubts about whether the legislation is even necessary by falsely claiming most people are covered already and it’s never been an issue in the past.

    The issue here isn’t the Herald’s weasel words, it’s their complete disregard for the facts.

  11. HS – the Herald editorial is full of meaningless qualifiers designed to portray the bill as possibly creating issues it certainly wouldn’t. Anyone reading the Herald article would assume that the majority of people were on collective agreements, that the bill made these breaks compulsory and that very few people would stand to gain by it. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    Not exactly what we should expect from an editorial in New Zealand’s biggest paper, eh?

  12. higherstandard 12

    Tane, RS

    While I haven’t got time to argue the point with either of you at the moment it is remarkable how people can read so many different things into a few typed paragraphs (myself included).

    Have a good day

  13. Julie 13

    Perhaps when the Herald claims most workers are covered by collective agreements they are referring to the vast morass of freeloaders out there? However even if they did mean them too it still wouldn’t mount up to “most” workers by any stretch.

  14. mike 14

    “vast morass of freeloaders out there”
    Julie are you referring to people on individual contracts, the people who can think for themselves, don’t need a crutch and from experience are more productive than their unionised comrads..

  15. the sprout 15

    “[any rightwing] press release in one hand and a keyboard in the other”

    “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. That’s the Herald’s motto and it is a good one for a tabloid”

    “The issue here isn’t the Herald’s weasel words, it’s their complete disregard for the facts”

    “Not exactly what we should expect from an editorial in New Zealand’s biggest paper”

    yep, that sums up the Herald perfectly.

  16. Tane 16

    Mike, Mike, you need to get your lines in order. Are union members weak and pathetic people who need a crutch to help them, or are they aggressive bullying thugs out to destroy New Zealand industry?

    I’ve asked a few of my unionist mates for an answer but they just seemed baffled, d’ya think you can help us out here?

  17. the sprout 17

    maybe they bully people aggressively with their crutches?

  18. Tane 18

    Now that would be cool.

  19. mike 19

    Tane, your words not mine but to assist you: The weak and pathetic ones will be the members and the aggresive bullies will be the organisers.
    So you are right on both counts really.

  20. Matthew Pilott 20

    Classic, people spend a day bagging bloggers and all for being wankers for using the term ‘Nanny State’ because it means they’re too stupid to mount a serious argument – and along comes mike 😉

    “Most managers are happy to be flexible with breaks and hours etc but along come nanny state labour and put laws into place that ultimately stimy the flexibility.”

    “Flexibility”, that’s the new buzzword for exploitation isn’t it mike? “look guys we’ve got to be flexible here – you can work an eight hour shift without a break, right?”

    Flexibility often amounts to something along the lines of screwing workers, unionised or otherwise, out of benefits because they are not enshrined in law. But given you use the term Nanny State I can see why this would be agreeable for you – it’s not like you’ve thought about the issue.

  21. Tane 21

    Ah, of course Mike, it all makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Matt, I wouldn’t bother trying to engage with Mike. He’s too far gone.

  22. IrishBill 22

    Chomsky described “flexibility” as code for “going to bed at night not knowing if you’ll have a job in the morning”. From what I saw of the use of the word by National in the 90’s that is exactly what it meant. I doubt things have changed.

  23. Hay Mike – good to see you’re still a moron. Tell me mate, what experience have you had with union members? ‘Cos bro, I reckon you probably like four weeks leave, sick pay, a lunch break and all the other things union members have won for all of us. I reckon if you really think unions and their members are that bad you should reject all of your workrights and stop sucking at the workers tit. Parasite.

  24. Higherstandard 24

    Rs

    Calm down.

    One question are you saying that persons outside of a union and a collective agreement don’t get four weeks leave, sick pay and a lunch break – if you are I believe you are mistaken.

    Similarly if you think that employers and big business are so completely malevolent perhaps employees should walk away from them and stop taking their wages.

    I don’t think I need to remind you that a significant portion of the tax take to run the country comes from employers.

  25. Matthew Pilott 25

    IrishBill – I’ve never read that quote of Chomsky’s, but like it a lot. It’s getting a lot of airtime at the moment, but if one takes the time to consider it, ‘fexibility’ almost never favours workers in the sense that the employment industries try to spin it.

    Flexibility is good when it comes to working hours, in some cases (generally those wishing to work reduced hours due to family committments), but when it comes to having benefits, I think not.

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    HS – the point is that those concessions were, without exception, won by unions, and now apply to all workers.

    I get nothing out of my union membership at present, due to my particular circumstances, but pay my dues out of respect and support for what unions have achieved – for all workers.

    And in case you haven’t noticed, there are negative consequences for those who walk away from work – of course you know this, it belittles you to make that kind of pointless statement. It’s about the balance of power between employer and employee and the inequality thereof.

  27. One question are you saying that persons outside of a union and a collective agreement don’t get four weeks leave, sick pay and a lunch break

    No HS – I’m saying that the reason these are considered normal is because they were all won by union members first and then passed on to other workers and/or enshrined in legislation. Where unions are strong everybody does better. By attacking union members the parasite is attacking the people that set the conditions for a lot of what he enjoys today.

    I’m also not anti-employer but I do believe that the many employers who see their workers primarily as a “labour cost” need to be counterbalanced by union-membership and legislation, the last time I checked most employers needed workers to make their money.

  28. Higherstandard 28

    Incorrect RS

    4 weeks annual leave was common in many private sector prior companies long before it was eshrined in legislation.

    The last time I checked emplopyees needed employers to make their money – employers don’t have the ease of changing their business when and as they wish like employees.

    Personally I think it is everyones right to belong or not to a union whatever works for them.

  29. 4 weeks annual leave was common in many private sector prior companies long before it was eshrined in legislation.

    You know for a medical-type you could probably brush up on your reading comprehension – I said and then passed on to other workers and/or enshrined in legislation – the bulk of people in New Zealand with four weeks leave prior to it being legislated were union-members. Other non-union members got it through free-loading but hardly ever on a site where it had not been won by union members.

    The last time I checked emplopyees needed employers to make their money – employers don’t have the ease of changing their business when and as they wish like employees.

    Non sequitur. Must try harder.

  30. mike 30

    “I reckon if you really think unions and their members are that bad you should reject all of your workrights and stop sucking at the workers tit. Parasite.”

    Take your pills Rs
    Its militant sorts like you who are driving decent workers to Individual contracts. Keep it up

  31. higherstandard 31

    RS

    You know for a medical-type you could probably brush up on your reading comprehension – I said and then passed on to other workers and/or enshrined in legislation – the bulk of people in New Zealand with four weeks leave prior to it being legislated were union-members. Other non-union members got it through free-loading but hardly ever on a site where it had not been won by union members.

    No actually our private practice staff received 4 weeks long before staff in the DHB system were granted 4 weeks. This is also true for the vast majority of my colleagues.

  32. No actually our private practice staff received 4 weeks long before staff in the DHB system were granted 4 weeks. This is also true for the vast majority of my colleagues.

    Um again HS, you need to read what I said – the bulk of people in New Zealand with four weeks leave prior to it being legislated were union-members – you may work in an industry that does not reflect this (and I say “may” because I’m pretty certain the bulk of health-sector workers to get four-weeks first were unionised) but it does not make it untrue.

    Mike – you still haven’t told me whether you’re happy about that fourth week, sick pay, etc. You know where they came from mate. I suggest you ring a union and thank them rather than whining like a spoiled brat here.

  33. higherstandard 33

    RS

    Banging my head against a brick wall ……

    No in my experience the vast amount of people getting four weeks a year prior to legislation were not union members – perhaps you have evidence to the contrary but I doubt it.

  34. Banging my head against a brick wall

    I know the feeling because my experience is that it has been union members that got the four weeks first. I suspect there will be stats on this but I don’t have time to find them.

  35. Julie 35

    So a while back upthread I mentioned freeloaders and mike (whoever he is) assumed I meant all those on IEAs, when in fact I did not at all. For mike’s edification, a freeloader is someone who declines to join the union that already has a collective agreement at their workplace but then accepts an individual employment agreement which is remarkably similar to the collective, despite the fact that there has in fact been absolutely no negotiation between the individual and the employer. Effectively they “freeload” on the gains negotiated and fought for by union members, as they are happy to accept any passed on benefits but refuse to actually join the collective. I recently heard of some freeloaders who rang up and abused a union organiser because they weren’t getting the pay increases that the union members had fought hard for. This is most commonly a problem (from my observation) in workplaces where there is 50% union membership or higher.

  36. randal 36

    do they have meal breaks at the Herald?

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Statement to the 2022 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
    United Nations Headquarters, New York City  Thank you, Mr President. Ngā mihi ki a koutou. I extend my warm congratulations to you and assure you of the full cooperation of the New Zealand delegation. I will get right to it. In spite of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the nuclear ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 10,000 more permanent public homes added under the Labour Government
    A major milestone of 10,037 additional public homes has been achieved since Labour came into office, the Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods confirmed today. “It’s extremely satisfying and a testament to our commitment to providing a safety net for people who need public housing, that we have delivered these warm, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago