Andrew Little: the future of work

Written By: - Date published: 8:03 am, December 1st, 2014 - 98 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, jobs, labour, workers' rights - Tags:

Andrew Little future of work

Tena koutou katoa. Thanks for joining me today.

Can I acknowledge Annette King, Labour’s Deputy Leader, Grant Robertson, our Finance Spokesperson, and the other members of our Labour Caucus.

Can I also acknowledge Michael Barnett from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce who helped us put today’s event together.

This morning I want to outline what will be a signature piece of work for the parliamentary Labour Party over the next two years. It will confront what I and many others regard as one of the biggest medium and long-term challenges facing New Zealand and many other countries: the future of work.

This is important to me because I’ve spent my working life making sure the labour market operates in a way that ensures people have secure jobs, decent work, and the opportunity to get ahead.

For myself, I had a pretty classic Kiwi upbringing. I grew up in Taranaki. My dad was a school teacher and my mum worked as a secretary for an optician.

They taught me to work hard, respect others and, most of all, to think for myself. Given that they were both committed National Party voters, they probably did a better job of that than they would have liked.

My Mum and Dad worked hard to provide for us and make sure we got a good start in life. Because of them I was able to do well at school and go to university where I studied law.

After graduating, I went and worked as a solicitor for the Engineers Union. There I enjoyed a highly varied employment law practice, helping to make sure that workers got good conditions and they weren’t taken advantage of.

I’ve always been driven by the need to see justice done, or for that matter, to see injustice challenged.

The injustice I talk about is when the powerful and the privileged take advantage of the weak.

At a time when we are reflecting how some employers are making unilateral deductions from staff to pay for stock losses caused by customers, I recall that one of the first cases I worked on was about exactly this issue.

A service station manager claimed $100 was missing from the till, possibly the result of a drive off. He also claimed a meat pie had been stolen. He insisted the two staff on duty each pay $50 towards the lost petrol, and when one of them, Daniel, who I represented, refused, he was sacked for his refusal and for stealing the pie.

Daniel, a teenager at the time, was able to challenge the unfairness meted out to him, including producing a receipt for the pie. Daniel got justice and his employer learnt a lesson in due process.

One of my big fears is that expectations we once had of fair treatment at work are fast evaporating.

The reason I chose to work for people like Daniel then is the same reason I chose to enter politics a few years ago.

I believe that the law and government policy should provide safety and security for people and a level playing field so they can get on with making the best of their own lives.

I don’t think New Zealanders ask that much of their Government or their laws.

All they want is to know that if they work hard and pay their taxes, they’ve got a decent chance, they can save a bit for retirement and try to give their kids a leg up.

And if circumstances make work impossible, people still have the means to live in dignity.

We don’t ask the world. We don’t want something for nothing or for anyone to do it all for us.

All New Zealanders want is a fair shot.

Whether it’s in work or their own business, New Zealanders want to know they’ve got opportunities and can get ahead.

It’s a pretty simple social contract. You do your bit, there are good rules that make sure you are fairly rewarded and have some certainty, and there is help and support there if you need it.

But right now, more and more people are doing the right thing, but they aren’t seeing the results.

Because if we’re honest, even some of the most simple aspirations are becoming harder and harder to fulfil.

We all know this.

It’s becoming harder to find secure, well paid jobs. It’s becoming harder to buy a home, harder to afford to start a family or retire.

And this isn’t just a problem for the low paid.

More and more people on good incomes, mid-level incomes, are finding it harder to save, harder to pay the mortgage, harder to keep their businesses afloat, harder to get ahead.

People are feeling the squeeze. Even though they are working their guts out.

That simple social contract is breaking down.

The security that should come with hard work simply isn’t there for people like it should be.

And this isn’t just a question of economic performance, because what we are finding is that even when growth ticks up, too many people still feel insecure.

We are seeing a new insecurity in disturbing new working arrangements like zero hour contracts, where someone who ostensibly has a full time role can have their hours changing massively from week to week, or can find themselves with no hours at all for the week.

I want to be clear, I’m not blaming just the current Government for this new era of squeeze and insecurity.

The erosion of the economic security that New Zealanders should be enjoying is bigger than any one policy or decision.

These are issues caused by the fundamental settings of our economy, the priorities about where we are investing, and who our economy is meant to be delivering for.

It’s about the fact that too much of our investment capital is going into speculation, instead of into supporting the next great Kiwi business that is going to create jobs and grow our wealth.

It’s about the fact that the average house in Auckland earned more money last year than the average worker.

It’s about the fact that incomes aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, which means a greater reliance on consumer credit and private debt.

Our economy, like our laws and our government, is only useful if it’s about delivering for people. And that means everyone.

People don’t serve economic principles or forces. Economic forces are the product of what people do.

We’ve forgotten our economy is meant to be about people, and as a result more and more people are being left out. Their efforts aren’t being rewarded.

So let’s be clear about something else. The decline in economic security isn’t because New Zealanders aren’t working as hard as they used to. In fact, New Zealanders work some of the longest hours in the developed world.

What’s happened is that the underlying structures of our economy have changed, and our policies haven’t changed to keep up.

People on middle incomes, people who own a small business, people who work on contract, who are doing their best to earn a crust and get ahead, they are feeling forgotten.

Mostly because, in policy terms, they are.

I want to be clear about something here too: The Labour Party has a challenge to update our definition of working people in a world where the nature of work itself is changing.

Because today, being the party of working people isn’t just about being there for New Zealanders who work 9 to 5 on a salary or on a shift for an hourly wage.

It has to be about being there for all the people who make their living from their own work, who are grafting to improve their lot. People who, to use the old phrase, work for their money instead of having their money work for them.

When I travelled around the country during the recent elections, people often told me they didn’t see themselves reflected in what we were saying.

And that meant they didn’t feel like there was anybody in politics who was looking out for them.

So today I have a clear message about that: to people working hard to get a small business off the ground, to people choosing to work on contract, people who are their own bosses, and are thinking about maybe being able to take on someone else: we get it.

And the Labour Party will work for you.

We have always been the party of hard, often physical work, and the party that sees work as a means for social and economic advancement.

The party that wants to see everyone get ahead.

To make this happen, we will be the party with a long term economic plan. A plan that’s about giving people the tools they need and restoring economic security to New Zealanders.

We will be the party that makes sure when you work hard, you get the rewards.

That means having good rules that give people certainty and fairness. And rules that mean people can seize opportunities with confidence.

The truth is, we need to be bold enough to face up to some of the big issues.

And one of those is the changing nature of work.

My son Cam is 13 and it’s pretty obvious to me that the workforce he is going to be entering in a just a few years’ time is going to be totally different from the one that I went into after university.

For Cam’s generation, there are some big challenges ahead.

New technology is rapidly transforming our world and our work.

It’s hard to understate just how important these changes are going to be for working people.

The ongoing digital revolution is as world changing as the industrial revolution was 200 years ago, and to adapt we are going to have to make decisions now if we are to be ready so people are not left out.

For example, experts from all around the world are already warning that a greater reliance on technology and automation is going to mean that many of the jobs we rely on today won’t be there in the future, and neither will the wages that go with them. One study completed last year shows that 47% of all jobs in the United States are at high risk from automation.[1]

There’s no point in extolling the virtues of a change to much less labour-intensive work without also confronting what that means for people and society in general.

At the same time, we are seeing more and more people, especially younger people, who are embracing the new economy.

More and more people today are their own boss, and are working to make their own ideas succeed.

We need a Government that is going to champion those people, while fighting to make sure that no one is left out or left behind by an economy that is changing in ways we could never have predicted.

We need a Government that is going to prepare us to seize every opportunity that is coming.

Because I see huge potential benefits for New Zealand in an economy that is driven more by ideas and innovation. That’s a space we are really strong in already.

A major theme of my work as Leader will be developing a long-term economic plan that’s about making the most of the changing nature of work, that’s about increasing productive investment, and building an education system that’s fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

To do this, Labour will establish a Future of Work Commission to work with New Zealanders over the next two years to develop policies for creating more jobs, creating better jobs, and getting New Zealand ready for the economic challenges of the next twenty years.

The purpose of the Commission will be to look at how we adapt to the rapidly approaching changes ahead; how we make sure ours is a society and economy that generates work and incomes for a stable and prosperous community, and how we prepare for the likelihood of multiple changes in jobs over a working life, including periods of no paid work.

This project will be chaired by our finance spokesperson, Grant Robertson, and will include portfolios such as social development, economic development, education, labour, skills and training, and ICT.

The Commission will get around New Zealand. It will hold public seminars and workshops and will draw attention to issues around work in New Zealand that need to be addressed.

It will engage external advisors and experts including, where possible, from overseas. It will work closely with local universities and academics. It will be a major piece of work.

We’re doing this because although we can see a major challenge ahead of us, we don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Labour is going to spend the next three years focused on solutions, not sitting on the sidelines complaining.

We will work with all New Zealanders, from the smoko room to the boardroom, to build a plan to grow our economy and take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us. I’m confident we’ll do this best by working together.

This means Labour will fight the next election with a long-term economic plan built on the best expert advice and the real world experience of our communities and businesses. We will equip New Zealand to face the economic challenges of the next twenty years, including planning for work that supports and enhances the environment and mitigates climate change.

In the end, it is Labour’s historical mission to make sure the great social contract of mutual gain and mutual support, which is so important for peace and stability, is periodically modernised to meet today’s challenges. We are now facing one of those times.

Conclusion

I think we have some incredible opportunities ahead of us as a country.

Opportunities to grow our wealth, create new and better jobs, give our workers both more opportunities at work and better protections.

We have the opportunity to make sure that work in the future remains the best path to economic and social security.

We’ve got the opportunity to renew the basic social contract that is at the heart of our Kiwi way of life.

To make sure that New Zealanders who are working hard can get ahead. To make sure that effort is rewarded.

To make sure that each of us has a fair shot at making the most of our lives and fulfilling our aspirations.

I look forward to working with all of you to help make this happen, together.

Thank you.

 

[1] Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, University of Oxford.

98 comments on “Andrew Little: the future of work”

  1. music4menz 1

    Good to see that Andrew is wanting to move the Labour Party towards the middle ground, towards ‘the boardroom’ as he puts it. He is a realist who sees that Labour must nail its colours to the centre of politics and move away from the more extreme left policies of the Greens. That is the only way forward for the party.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Middle ground? The speech is quite radical in some respects and hints at the redistribution of wealth and some solid central planning of the economy.

    • Te Reo Putake 1.2

      I think you may have misunderstood Andrew’s message, but your support is welcome anyway. Appealing to people who do not fit a narrow definition of ‘work’ does not mean a move to the centre, it means finding left wing policies that resonate with them. It seems to me to actually be an abandonment of the Blairite surrender to neo-liberalism that has hobbled labour parties worldwide for the last 20 years.

    • karol 1.3

      Actually, he is expanding the Labour Party focus in more than one direction. He is not taking some narrow focus on the “middle ground”. Nor do I see Labour’s centre move towards “the boardroom” in that speech.

      And he is particularly focusing Labour on a working class where:

      People who, to use the old phrase, work for their money instead of having their money work for them.

      Hardly shifting Labour to focus on the boardroom interests.

      He focuses on the increasing insecurity of work, and includes the unemployed and underemployed as people Labour will be focusing on. He is also expanding the notion of “working class”.

      He says:

      People on middle incomes, people who own a small business, people who work on contract, who are doing their best to earn a crust and get ahead, they are feeling forgotten.
      […]
      We will work with all New Zealanders, from the smoko room to the boardroom, to build a plan to grow our economy and take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us. I’m confident we’ll do this best by working together.

      The starting point is in “the smoko room” but he says Labour will also work with those in the boardroom.

      And he also says:

      And if circumstances make work impossible, people still have the means to live in dignity.
      […]
      It’s becoming harder to find secure, well paid jobs. It’s becoming harder to buy a home, harder to afford to start a family or retire.

      And this isn’t just a problem for the low paid.

      More and more people on good incomes, mid-level incomes, are finding it harder to save, harder to pay the mortgage, harder to keep their businesses afloat, harder to get ahead.

      People are feeling the squeeze. Even though they are working their guts out.

      That simple social contract is breaking down.

      The security that should come with hard work simply isn’t there for people like it should be.
      […]
      Because today, being the party of working people isn’t just about being there for New Zealanders who work 9 to 5 on a salary or on a shift for an hourly wage

      He says Labour will be looking at the changing nature of work –

      and how we prepare for the likelihood of multiple changes in jobs over a working life, including periods of no paid work.

      • Coffee Connoisseur 1.3.1

        Its like I went to sleep and woke up in a different world. This is a fantastic start.

        • Chooky 1.3.1.1

          +100…great speech for new Zealand workers …and ALL New Zealanders

          Andrew Little is showing real Labour Party leadership and he is offering hope to many thousands of New Zealand workers who are struggling to survive financially and maintain a good standard of living

    • Draco T Bastard 1.4

      The boardroom interests are the interests of the 1% and are definitely not of the centre but that of the extreme right-wing.

  2. Sirenia 2

    ‘It’s about the fact that the average house in Auckland earned more money last year than the average worker.’

    And he’s talking about the average wage. The median wage in Auckland has dropped to $25,000.
    I just hope he also considers those doing unpaid work such as raising kids and caring for older family members and keeping communities going.

    • karol 2.1

      He did mention people not being in paid work more than once.

    • Colonial Rawshark 2.2

      And he’s talking about the average wage. The median wage in Auckland has dropped to $25,000.

      It sounds like you are referring to the median income, which includes retirees, stay at home parents, other beneficiaries.

    • Clemgeopin 2.3

      I took it to mean that the house prices have risen so fast that the increase in house prices per year are more than what an average worker earns in an year.

      • karol 2.3.1

        Yes. I think people are being too focused on details here. The intent of the line is clear and it works as a brief soundbite.

  3. The Chairman 3

    This (in the link below) is what Little is touching upon.

    And this (in the link below) is what Bridges wants to oversee.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/news/63664656/bridges-nz-can-take-lead-on-driverless-vehicles

  4. a good speech for the audience he was speaking to..

    ..and a good showing that ..unlike asset-stripper key..he is a man with plan..

    ..and he referred to something largely ignored/left-unspoken by labour leaders for so long..

    “..We’ve got the opportunity to renew the basic social contract that is at the heart of our Kiwi way of life..”

    ..to me that speaks universal basic income/poverty-busting..or the like..

    • whateva next? 4.1

      Yep, Vernon didn’t appreciate it…”Andrew Little’s underwhelming speech ” wow, how utterly facile can you get?

  5. Whateva next? 5

    This shows me Andrew Little’s time spent with workers, and prior to that students, have given him a real insight into the needs/ aspirations of real NZers, and the real issues ( not flags ) that face us, and our families.
    In short, we can restore hope that the vast potential of New Zealand is once again restored, rather than squandered.
    Applause and Huge sigh of relief.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    “…And if circumstances make work impossible, people still have the means to live in dignity…”

    That one word – dignity – is the fault line between the right and the left on welfare. It is good to Little contending that those on benefit deserve more that just subsistence. That they need to also live with dignity.

    And it is good to see the Labour party talking about work and workers.

  7. Sans Cle 7

    Great stuff. Andrew Little is going from strength to strength in my esteem.

    Following on from Little’s statement:
    “I want to be clear about something here too: The Labour Party has a challenge to update our definition of working people in a world where the nature of work itself is changing.”,
    It got me thinking about global challenges of low paid work in other countries (and effective slavery) which affect us here, through low cost imported goods……affecting our manufacturing. Would be good to hear how Little would tackle the more systemic problems of the global labour system (acknowledging that it’s optimistic to think that NZ can overhaul a global system……but we have punched above our weight in social policy in the past).

  8. mickysavage 8

    “[T]he average house in Auckland earned more money last year than the average worker”.

    So true and so sad …

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    Well something has to be done, capitalism has created too much fallout for too many people for too long. Full time, regular hours workers on a living wage are a fading group. Divisions among the working class and unwaged and immigrant sectors are rife.

    Until enough sleepy Hobbits wake up the least we need from the next left government is the right to strike and industry agreements and standards restored.

    Ultimately people have to fight for and defend their own gains, which is where neo liberalism has been so insidious by running down democratic organisations and participation so capacity to fight is reduced and alienation increased.

    So if the social democrats are talking UBI and recognising self employed and dependent contracting and SME issues that is a good thing. People other than wage workers have defaulted to an aspirational tory world view for too long.

  10. Michael 10

    Another great speech from Andrew Little!

    I don’t think he’s had a bad day yet. And meanwhile, Key has been having a bad day everyday.

    This is the sort of stuff Labour need to be doing. I saw many strong hints towards a UBI in there. And I like that he is acknowledging how work is changing.

    • Chooky 10.1

      +100… “strong hints towards a UBI in there. And I like that he is acknowledging how work is changing”….good important points..

  11. The Chairman 11

    IMO everybody seems to be taking what they hear from the speech, and although the rhetoric sounds good, it doesn’t really say anything of substance. Leaving us with more questions than answers

    For example, how do Labour plan to increase investment in the productive sector? Or how will Labour ensure people’s work efforts are fairly rewarded?

    Until his new Future of Work Commission establishes a plan, there is really little of substance to comment on.

    • weka 11.1

      have you looked at Labour’s policies? Lots of information there on what Labour will do.

      • The Chairman 11.1.1

        Implying his new Future of Work Commission is being designed to merely rehash old Labour policy? CGT etc…

        • weka 11.1.1.1

          No, don’t be daft. I’m saying that Labour already have many policies in place that answer your question about eg how Labour will ensure people’s work efforts are fairly rewarded. No point in looking at things in isolation. You wanted some evidence of a plan, go and have a look, it might answer some of your questions (assuming they are genuine and not just trying to knock Little’s work commission idea).

          • The Chairman 11.1.1.1.1

            Yes, Labour do have policy in place that answer the questions, such as their CGT, which is why I asked are you implying they have nothing new?

            • The Chairman 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Expanding on my last post.

              It all comes back to my initial post you replied too. The speech leaves us with more questions than answers.

              Little says they don’t have all the answers and directing me to policy merely questions which policy are they planning to keep, change or do away with?

              As for his new Future of Work Commission, the notion is good but not if it’s merely a vehicle to rehash the same old policy they currently have.

              Therefore, as stated in my earlier post, one can’t really comment until we see their plan.

        • Neville 11.1.1.2

          I agree this man wants to take New Zealand back to when the unions ruled NZ in 1914 so if all you Labour supporters want that good luck that means no Internet,technology or any sky tv

          • mickysavage 11.1.1.2.1

            Gee Neville what makes you think that?

          • tricledrown 11.1.1.2.2

            Neville get your hisTory right Unions weren,t very strong up until the 1950s in NZ.
            Wages were low right up till the 1950,s.
            New Zealand was in constant recession from the 1880s.
            Facts not Fantasy Neville.
            Unions mean higher wages for everybody as employer strategy is to pay non union members to keep them from joining a union.
            Higher wages means more economic growth.
            Something your against Naive Nev!

    • George Hendry 11.2

      @ Chairman :

      “Until his new Future of Work Commission establishes a plan, there is really little of substance to comment on.”

      There is, in fact, plenty. There you are – an example-free response to your example-free statement.

      “Yes, Labour do have policy in place that answer the questions, such as their CGT, which is why I asked are you implying they have nothing new?”

      New is not the point – the pre-election policy is not old as in need of replacing. Even the CGT, best known of all thanks to media distortion, is not being replaced because inherently bad but due to how easy it is to misrepresent.

      New is eg when the PM ‘calls for fresh ideas on tackling poverty’ so he can pretend to be waiting for feedback while planning to go on doing nothing about it.

      Final question :

      Do you troll
      A) at minimum wage

      B) at living wage

      C) on results-based contract, so much for each offence taken with a bonus for each thread successfully derailed

      D) on your own time, wearing your own hat

      ?????

      • The Chairman 11.2.1

        Context, George.

        My example was given in a post above. Therefore, feel free to demonstrate yours.

        New policy is exactly the point. Unless you are of the belief (which it seems you are) none of their policy is flawed or disliked (not misunderstood) by a good number of voters?

        As for CGT, the notion it will rein in speculation and divert investment is flawed. This is largely highlighted by the fact Labour planned to capitalize from the new tax revenue, thus anticipating on speculation in property to continue on to produce this tax revenue stream.

        I’m sure a number of workers would agree, increasing the retirement entitlement is not ensuring they are being fairly rewarded for their work effort.

        Moreover, a number of voters don’t find Increasing the minimum wage to have it largely taken away by compulsory KiwiSaver very encouraging either.

        I’m not a troll. I’m a left wing voter that struggles to vote Labour. But I’m not the topic.

    • Murray Rawshark 11.3

      Also my impression. He seems to want to do away with the policy they went into the last election with, and run a think tank to come up with new stuff. No filling in that sandwich.

  12. Peter 12

    Anecdotal examples of deteriorating conditions for employees:

    1. Employees being told to use their own computers at work
    2. Employees being told to pay for work related training courses
    3. Employees working overtime without extra compensation.
    4. Employees having to return to work twice in a day to work split hours at the discretion of the employer
    5. University graduates working for less that a living wage

    I’m sure others could add much more to this list ……….

    I suspect if Labour look to addressing the wider working conditions faced by all NZ people they will gain wide support.

    • BassGuy 12.1

      I can confirm these happen to me:

      1. Check (not asked, it just happened because work computers were too slow and I had a lot of work to get through).
      3. Check (although not “without extra compensation” but without compensation at all).
      4. It’s just expected that I’m willing to do that.
      5. I’m a Bachelor of Science working for minimum, and they even sometimes get my hours correct. Remarkably, the errors always favour the work place, I’ve never been overpaid.

      To your list, I’ll add:

      6. Employees told to spend “just a few minutes every day” cleaning up, as part of their job, off the clock, unpaid and unrecorded. Not doing so would get you fired.

      7. Employees expected to be available for work at any notice. Not being available means punishment, commonly by getting no offers of extra work for a while.

      8. Employees discouraged from joining the union.

      9. When raising issues of workplace rights, employees get told “if you don’t like it you don’t have to work here.”

      If Labour start a campaign based around holding employers (especially wealthy ones) to legal working conditions, they would have taken a big step toward winning my vote back.

  13. GP 2001 13

    Thank god Cunliffe’s gone and we can talk some sense. Amirite?

    [r0b: Please pick one handle and stick to it]

  14. Whateva next? 14

    Peter,
    with unions being eroded every day, workers going for jobs and not getting it if they say “yes” to the question ” do you intend joining a union?” ……slave trade alive and well in NZ.
    When I started nursing 30 years ago, all 3 unions had an hour each to come and talk to us……we made an informed choice even!!wow, how things have changed, and not for the better.

  15. just saying 15

    This speech makes me feel optimistic.

    Sure it’s not what I would have loved him to say. I guess there has to be a degree of “not scaring the horses”.
    But I see Labour taking charge of the narrative, starting to tell home truths about the reality of the situation we find ourselves in, and build a vision for meeting the critical challenges we can no longer deny or avoid. One that almost everyone can understand the need for and appreciate. Even take some reassurance from in these highly uncertain times.

    I hope I’m not imagining it, but it feels like a palpable change from Labour of old, behaving like a desperate adolescent – greasing-up to, and going along with any shit the bullies dish out to anyone who can’t fight back. And generally being craven and pathetic.

    Maybe Labour is on the cusp of becoming part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Our job is to keep the pressure on.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      Maybe Labour is on the cusp of becoming part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

      We can certainly hope so.

  16. Skinny 16

    Great speech by Little and the good thing is he means business. The CTU need to arrange a nationwide rally opposed to ‘Zero Hours’ strike while the iron is hot, after highlighting of abuse of power by some Employer’s.

    Hurry along Helen Kelly and the rest of you ex teachers get off the beltway treadmill and getting umm organising!

  17. Jay 17

    A while ago I wrote on here about my mother, aged 70, a small business owner and life-long Labour voter, who had voted National last election out of fear that Labour Party policies would put her out of business.

    I was shouted down and called a fool, and my poor old mum was made out to be some kind of greedy capitalist lasher of the working class.

    No one grasped my point, showed any interest in or acknowledged the work she does, and couldn’t have cared less about her or the possibility she might have gone out of business had Labour won.

    Mr Little has now acknowledged that small business owners and the self-employed are workers, and are people who work for money as opposed to people for whom money works.

    It’s common sense talk like this that will give middle NZ the confidence to vote Labour again, the feeling that he will look after all of us ordinary working NZers, and not operate as some kind of state funded charity who will pour all our hard-earned money down the toilet.

    I also note he was wise enough not to attack John Key – he might be the only one in the Labour Party who understands that most ordinary NZers are tired of it. And what’s more important – it won’t change how we vote.

    He’s just the kind of opposition leader we need – and at this rate he might get my mother, and possibly even her “fool of a son”, voting for him.

    • Draco T Bastard 17.1

      Yes, I recall that. Weren’t you and your mum complaining about the minimum being raised?

      • greywarshark 17.1.1

        @Jay
        It’s common sense talk like this that will give middle NZ the confidence to vote Labour again, the feeling that he will look after all of us ordinary working NZers, and not operate as some kind of state funded charity who will pour all our hard-earned money down the toilet.

        I had the feeling that much of the Labour talk being about helping those really struggling, there was little for the people who were earning and if they were small employers, possibly have a few employees. The Party did sound like a not for profit charity at times.

        It’s important that Labour take an interest in them. One way they could help tiny and SME businesses is by offering special courses on running a business, and handling obligations to staff and how to look after them with good relations on both sides. Staff relations would be stressed as being as important for success as checking staff and customer theft.

        @ Matthew
        I thought that was an interesting point you made on Monday? on Radionz about the median voter.

  18. Triumph of the Median Voter Model.

    • karol 18.1

      Yet, Little has specifically extended the focus to include the unemployed, people on zero hour contracts, etc.

      It seems to me, interpretations of this speech deliver a bit of a rorschach test.

    • whateva next? 18.2

      or corruption of money and abuse of power, mixed with complete lack of integrity?

      • whateva next? 18.2.1

        “…or corruption of money and abuse of power, mixed with complete lack of integrity?”
        referring to Key’s hypnotism of the median voter, and throwing money at Farrar to be his magic mirror on the wall.

    • Skinny 18.3

      Meanwhile Master Hooton your spinning snake oil on Radio NZ, how people don’t care about politics. I do think most people care about the rushing through under urgency of new spy legislation.

      Andrew Little talking the future of work gets people wanting to join a Union. I’m joining up 2 today, so I think your out of touch with the smoko room there Matthew. I suggest you stick to peddling your wares to the Boardroom cobber.

      • tricledrown 18.3.1

        Skinny Kiwi tradition is not to talk politics on summer holidays,when everyyone is trying to forget the worlds problems and recharge their sole.
        Hootton is dog whistling at the same time telling anyone who does are a sad person.
        But you can bet your Auckland houses capital gain that poor sad we Matthew will be talking thinking politics!
        Ironic& funny aye Matt the die hard Nact!

  19. SDCLFC 19

    I voted Robertson, and was disappointed he missed out, and somewhat confused by the process (not trying to fight a battle, just stating a position so people can see where i come from).
    That said, and moving on, I’m super impressed.
    First by the initial press conferences, then the caucus reshuffle, then nailing Key without resorting to the shrill of the Greens, and now this speech.
    Hope it gets good traction and that the media link it in with the performances of last week.
    The direct speech is in contrast to anything Key can offer or any of Cunliffe, Shearer, or Goff (any comparisons from people with longer memories than mine?).
    Importantly he’s made early moves and statements which the other three, and Cunliffe in particular, failed to do, while at the same time laying down the framework for a long game.

  20. Ant 20

    Good start, Labour need to spend at least the next two years taking back the “work narrative” from National.

  21. cogito 21

    “the average house in Auckland earned more money last year than the average worker”

    Great line!

  22. Atiawa 22

    Here in Taranaki it’s hard to believe that summer has arrived – overcast, cold & showery, until I read Andrews speech.
    What a great conversation starter. The world of work, especially over a couple of beers and the traditional summer bar-b.(Hope springs eternal)
    The topic is a lead into many aspects of our lives that have changed so much in recent times.
    How do people make better use of their leisure time? Is one example. What can most working people afford to do with their leisure time during retirement? Are current primary exports to remain as our main contributor to GDP in 10 – 20 years time?

    A great opportunity to engage with others. Take the opportunity.

  23. JanM 23

    I’m really pleased he’s including small business owners in his focus. My partner was a builder in the 80s/90s and I ran his small company. One of the things that happened in the shift to the right was the removal of pretty much all legal protection for small businesses in the building industry. We, and many others we knew were just run over by greedy and corrupt developers and we had no ability to fight back. Many of them, including ourselves, were bankrupted (in our case the final straw was a dishonest timber company). I lost my home and was never able to recover on a teacher’s income.

    • Colonial Rawshark 23.1

      +1

      Labour has ignored contractors, owner/operators and small business owners for far too long, not recognising that these people are often Labour leaning, and as hard workers find the dominance and preferential treatment afforded to capitalists, big multinationals and major banks a serious pain.

      • Murray Rawshark 23.1.1

        I can’t argue with that. Fletchers and the like do just as well from Labour as they do from NAct. Since 1984 Labour have also been mates with the dishonest developers. Having a good look at building and putting in place some state supplier to help small builders would go a long way, along with a house building program.

  24. ankerawshark 24

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11366968

    Audrey Young. Can’t give Andrew Little the heads up herself.

    Feels the need to point out that it initially looked like not many coming.

    AL “dead pan”

    J A “Least likely to use the word crap so gets to do the introduction” ….implies using thw word crap a bad thing.

    Has to get quotes from others at the end of the article rather than critiquing AL plan herself.

    • greywarshark 24.1

      Sounds like concentrating on the style rather than the substance. Actually saying crap is awful. With no lead in to why the word is being used.

  25. vto 25

    The default political setting for small business / self-employed / contractors has been National for as long as I remember.

    However all parameters around these groups have been relocated and adjusted heavily by neoliberalism to place them now in the same position as the workers of the past.

    That Andrew Little has identified this phenomenon and stepped forward to represent them is a master-stroke.

    Methinks the National Party will be starting to get worried …..

    Go Andrew Go !

  26. Liminal 26

    At last.

  27. Bill 27

    The talk of automation and its consequences…I dunno. Last time, and currently, all that has happened is a burgeoning, of mostly pointless, low and middle management positions.

    Way back when, automation was going to set the worker free.

    That’s what I’m all for. Sod creating jobs just for the sake of it. Re-educate ourselves, acknowledge and elevate non-job pathways to satisfaction and dignity.

    Harking back to AGW and fossil fuels again – we should be finding ways to reduce the total number of jobs available (save only those that contribute to the well being of society), developing more diverse, satisfactory ways of developing and expressing our common humanity, talents and creativity, while, as a society, throwing everything we have at preparing for (if such a thing is possible and on the basis of preparing for the worst while hoping for the best) +4 degrees C hitting within the next 3 – 4 decades.

    • weka 27.1

      I was under the impression that Little is planning around a post-40hr week world. Putting some pressure on Labour to put that in an AGW/PO world seems more likely to be successful now than before.

      • lprent 27.1.1

        I’ve been trying to get down to a 40 hour week for years. Nearly there.

        • weka 27.1.1.1

          At some point Little is going to have to resolve the ‘let’s work hard’ meme with the ‘let’s not have so many jobs’ bit. Interesting he’s not focussing on NZ’s problem with people having to overwork.

          • Draco T Bastard 27.1.1.1.1

            Interesting he’s not focussing on NZ’s problem with people having to overwork.

            He did mention it though:

            So let’s be clear about something else. The decline in economic security isn’t because New Zealanders aren’t working as hard as they used to. In fact, New Zealanders work some of the longest hours in the developed world.

            Of course, part of that is that we have such high unemployment as a policy setting to keep wages down.

            • Coffee Connoisseur 27.1.1.1.1.1

              You too should put your name forward for the working group if you have the time. There is no better shot at actively getting things on the right track than this.

    • JanM 27.2

      Those low and middle management positions – grrrr! “Human resources’ -eeeek Back in the day they were called wages clerks and secretaries and they did very well, thank you. Now many companies seem to be full of them tripping over each other and, as far as I can make out, more nuisance than they’re worth and just sucking money from people who actually do stuff!

  28. Agree that this is an important speech.

    Andrew lays down the classic Social Democratic philosophy of using the state to moderate and mediate class conflict by arbitrating ‘fair shares’ between labour and capital, i.e. a state managed ‘social contract’.

    The problem is that such social reforms under capitalism are winnable only when it serves the interests of international capital.

    This goes back to the Liberals and its left wing Fabians who set up the IC&A Act in 1894. That worked OK until 1908 when declining economic conditions didn’t allow workers to get their ‘fair share’. In those days NZ was governed by the Bank of England as a financial colony.

    A long period of economic instability and open class struggle ensued until workers and working farmers put the First Labour Government into power. Andrews reference to self-employed is in line with the support that working farmers gave to Labour in the 1930s after decades of economic stagnation.

    Labour’s ‘social contract’ was really a ‘social contract’ with British imperialism to regulate and discipline production in NZ as part of the war effort. Labour oversaw NZ’s part in the resolution of the Great Depression by wartime Keynesianism where the state traded off its export of food for insulation of domestic manufacturing.

    This ‘social contract’ fell apart when Keynesianism disintegrated at the end of the post war boom and NZ manufacturing could not longer make profits in a protected market. Muldoon proved that when capitalists threatened massive capital flight from his ‘Think Big’.

    So it was the Labour Party that renegotiated this ‘social contract’ when it was forced to deregulate the economy under Rogernomics. It was replaced by the neo-liberal unsocial contract which specified rolling back labour laws 100 years. This has largely succeeded with NACTs ECA mark 2 that reduces workers to isolated individuals with no solidarity in the workplace.

    So how is Andrew going to revive his Labour ‘social contract’ under the current conditions? The re-colonisation of NZ by US finance capital, and commodity exports to China, is similar to the UK colony of 100 years ago.

    To recreate the Labour ‘social contract’ pre-supposes that the NZ can win some economic and political independence from international capital. But this will not be possible under current global capitalism. NZ is a powerless pawn of the two major global rivals. The US imposed TPPA will take over ownership of IP as the key to increased productivity in NZ, creating the same wage slavery that its MNCs impose on Chinese workers inside China.

    Therefore, the only way of winning ‘fairness’ for workers in today’s conditions is to oppose both US and Chinese imperialist controls over the NZ state and to unite with US and Chinese workers to overthrow their respective ruling classes.

    The first step will be for workers to organise fighting, democratic unions that cover all those who work for a living, paid, unpaid, or unemployed to demand work, a living wage and mount a class-wide defence of those rights.

    This will mean class solidarity and class struggle as never seen before and use of methods and tactics we are now seeing daily all around the world.

    • swordfish 28.1

      The notion that working farmers voted Labour in hefty numbers in the 30s (thus playing a major role in the historic 1935 election of the Savage Government) is one of the great myths of New Zealand historiography.

      The reason Labour won enough rural and semi-rural seats to take power in 1935 was not because of some, putative dramatic swing of farmers, but, in fact, largely because the Right vote was so hopelessly split. Only the very poorest farmers (on poor quality, recently-settled, indebted land) switched to Labour – and, even then, only in a few specific areas. There were, however, fairly significant swings in many of the larger rural towns.

  29. Draco T Bastard 29

    This is important to me because I’ve spent my working life making sure the labour market operates in a way that ensures people have secure jobs, decent work, and the opportunity to get ahead.

    The entire purpose of the ‘labour market’ is to ensure that those things don’t happen.

    These are issues caused by the fundamental settings of our economy, the priorities about where we are investing, and who our economy is meant to be delivering for.
    True but where does he go with it. Does he understand the purpose of the economy and that we can’t afford the rich?

    What’s happened is that the underlying structures of our economy have changed, and our policies haven’t changed to keep up.

    Incorrect. Our economy has been specifically setup to produce what he and we are seeing happening. These policy setting were first introduced by the 4th Labour government.

    It has to be about being there for all the people who make their living from their own work, who are grafting to improve their lot. People who, to use the old phrase, work for their money instead of having their money work for them.

    There’s another definition that we have to change: Bludgers: People who have their money work for them.

    To do this, Labour will establish a Future of Work Commission to work with New Zealanders over the next two years to develop policies for creating more jobs, creating better jobs, and getting New Zealand ready for the economic challenges of the next twenty years.

    There’s really one, complex answer to that – R&D. Personally, I’d go for a space program that looks to employ around 300,000 FTE positions.

    • @ draco..

      ..personally i wd look at setting up local industries manufacturing car parts..

      ..using the high-grade aluminium perfect for that task from tiwai..

      ..but first we have to hike the power-prices..to that smelter..

      ..to the current owners..who are screwing us blind..

      .. can make good on their oft-repeated threats to ‘walk’..

      ..(we should offer them a lift to the airport..next time they threaten that one..

      ..stare the bastards down..!..)

      • Draco T Bastard 29.1.1

        ..personally i wd look at setting up local industries manufacturing car parts..

        Considering that cars are going the way of the dodo that seems problematical at best.

        ..(we should offer them a lift to the airport..next time they threaten that one..

        ..stare the bastards down..!..)

        We should be doing that with every capitalist that tries the but we’ll leave whinge. We can survive and prosper without them.

  30. Ross 30

    Nailed!

    No whinging, forward thinking, let’s go.

    One thing needs to get into the air early though. All that Mr Little says is fine, but lurking in the background is the death knell of all forward thinking initiatives: taxing the rich. Say it now, say it loud. Those bludgers have to pay their share in an equal world.

    • Coffee Connoisseur 30.1

      ” lurking in the background is the death knell of all forward thinking initiatives: taxing the rich. Say it now, say it loud. Those bludgers have to pay their share in an equal world.”

      No Ross. Not if you understand the bigger picture. The solution isn’t necessarily through wealth redistribution.

      • Ross 30.1.1

        Yeah, my thinking wasn’t so much about wealth distribution as funding generally. It doesn’t matter what the initiative is, it still needs to be funded in some way (from somewhere). It is at that point in the narrative that all the doomsday business apologists rise up and cry foul. We should get that crap out and over with early in the process rather than, say, during the final month of an election campaign.

        • Draco T Bastard 30.1.1.1

          Yeah, my thinking wasn’t so much about wealth distribution as funding generally. It doesn’t matter what the initiative is, it still needs to be funded in some way (from somewhere).

          Real Monetary Reform

          We view government funding backwards. This is because we’ve been taught that the government is funded by taxes but this is incorrect. It is government spending that funds the entire economy and taxes are there to limit the build up of NZ$ in both the local and global economies.

          • Ross 30.1.1.1.1

            Wow, talk about a Damascus moment Draco (or should that be Mr. Bastard:-). I’ll get back to that for a deeper read. But this is exactly the conversation that needs to be had now, early in the Process. Mr Little has outlined an inspiring trajectory for his supporters to follow. I’m old enough now to have seen this before. The danger I am flagging is that “where is the money going to come from” is the thing that needs to be addressed from the start, not left to ambush us at the end. I would have thought that the future of work is synonymous with monetary reform. It is money that is the devil here. It is money that will rise up and kill the best ideas if it is left to gatecrash the party of it’s own accord.

  31. Jones 31

    Great speech. Unlike John Key, Andrew Little’s “everyman” image isn’t cultivated.

  32. ankerawshark 32

    http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/little-brings-in-narcissistic-personality-expert-2014120118

    Anyone know anything about this? Possible tv 3 focussing on this guys expertise on narcissism, which is not what Little is bringing him here for?????

    • Coffee Connoisseur 32.1

      probably to identify and sideline or remove any narcissists from within the team

    • weka 32.2

      “3 News can also reveal Mr Little has brought in an Australian political expert with a doctorate in narcissistic personality to review his office.”

      haha, I bet TV3 just about wet themselves when they realised they were going to be able to report that.

    • Clemgeopin 32.3

      This article showing his analysis of Aussie Labour leader, Mark Latham, might give you a clue about his expertise:
      http://www.theage.com.au/national/latham-a-narcissistic-loner-primed-to-implode-20090331-9iat.html

    • Murray Rawshark 32.4

      “He used to be the chief of staff for former Australian Labor leader Mark Latham.”

      Latham was an absolute disaster. He was all over the place and probably increased Howard’s majority.

      The guy did his PhD on narcissistic personalities. His expertise should be much wider. Once you get one, you don’t stay on the same topic for the rest of your life. Although the idea could be to get him to analyse Key.

      Overall, I don’t like the idea of bringing an Australian expert so close to the leader. It’ll give Nact heaps of ammo, despite the fact that their orders come from Washington via Crosby Textor.

  33. Brian 33

    I will believe, when there is mention of government guaranteed job for all who are able and willing to work.This should be at a livable wage and other benefits.

  34. Philip Ferguson 34

    A review of current situation:
    http://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/low-pay-longer-hours-and-less-social-mobility/

    If Labour was going to do something about this they had nine years in which to do so; in fact they just managed the malaise.

    Which is also what Key is basically doing: http://rdln.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/keys-vision-managing-the-malaise-of-new-zealand-capitalism/

    Phil

  35. tricle up 35

    Very good at last we have a politician who can reduce ideology to nothing but and rebuild a framework on top of the rubble that has sensible inclusions ..

  36. Murray Rawshark 36

    While I read that, I heard Cunliffe’s voice. Do they have the same speechwriter?

    It didn’t impress me much. There are heaps of Kiwis who are neither in the smoko room nor the boardroom and not anywhere between.

    Also the bit about getting overseas experts where possible. WTF? It’s always possible. The point is whether it’s always necessary. I won’t be joining the Little fan club any time soon.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts