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Aussie Minister shows guts, foresight and concern; ours… not so much

Written By: - Date published: 2:11 pm, October 25th, 2009 - 31 comments
Categories: australian politics, business, same old national, unemployment - Tags: ,

bridgestone 2Australia’s Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr has criticized Bridgestone’s closure of its Australian and New Zealand operations and the 1000 redundancies it’ll bring. Carr is looking at ways to alleviate some of the unemployment problems for the laid-off aussie workers but criticizes Bridgestone for pulling out (and no doubt relocating to countries where workers get paid a whole lot less) at a time when these sorts of closures have such a profound and long-lasting effect on communities.

And what have we heard from the New Zealand government about the closure of Bridgestone NZ’s plant and the resulting loss of 275 jobs? Nothing.

And why would that be I wonder. Perhaps it’s because this government thinks markets are all that matter, or because they think communities serve markets and not the other way around? Perhaps it’s because they think the market is immutable and resistance to market forces is futile? Perhaps they think businesses should only operate where they can find the cheapest labour?

Or perhaps they really just don’t give a shit about much other than corporate interests.

31 comments on “Aussie Minister shows guts, foresight and concern; ours… not so much”

  1. mike 1

    “and no doubt relocating to countries where workers get paid a whole lot less”
    and where greedy unions are not demanding more and more in tough times – chicken home to roost time…

  2. Ron 2

    Is mike actually suggesting that it’s the unions’ fault that Bridgestone is closing? Is he also suggesting that NZ workers should be paid less? Also is he suggesting that China’s employment processes work better than ours? Because THAT would be really funny…..and ironic.

  3. infused 3

    You didn’t care when Dunlops closed and 650 people lost their job. That was under Labours watch. Guess who pushed them to shut? The Union. Demanded more and more every year.

    • Daveo 3.1

      Be interested to see some evidence Infused. I’ve never seen a union “shut” a plant, generally they’re more than happy to negotiate reasonably if the company is in genuine financial trouble. It’s the members who decide what happens after all, and it’s their jobs after all.

      More often than not blaming the union is a good way to avoid taking responsibility for bad management or the forces of free market globalisation.

      • infused 3.1.1

        Not in this case. The union here had been pushing for years. They thought they could get away with it this time. Basically the company said fuck you, we are shutting down.

        Then the workers came to their senses. Bit too late.

        • the sprout 3.1.1.1

          oh really? and that was the same in Australia too was it, is that why they abandoned both countries simultaneously?

      • mike 3.1.2

        You obviously have never had dealings with the infamous EPMU Daveo.
        Feeding members bullshit and hindering company communication is their trademark

        • Duncan 3.1.2.1

          Main union on site is the Bridgestone Rubber Workers Union, about 80% of the members.Engineers would just have the maintenance guys I’d imagine. Get your facts straight mike.

    • Quoth the Raven 3.2

      infused – That’s called the market. The unions are simply bargaining on the market acting in their own self-interest as Bridgestone is in this instance.

  4. infused 4

    Workers being paid $30/hr for factory work, doing fuck all. Shit output compared to China. China/Indias factories are far more advanced too. If I was in charge of these companies, I’d be moving overseas too.

    • George D 4.1

      Productivity in Australia is actually very high. Workers are paid more in Australia, but they’re hardly doing “f*ck all”. Factories in Australia tend to be highly mechanised with advanced technology.

      Your attitude is typical of the right. You think that bad things happen to bad people, and thus, if a worker loses their job they must have been a lazy layabout. Rather than the truth, which is that the employer doesn’t care about their employees, and will go wherever they can get the most out of workers for the least.

      • infused 4.1.1

        I’ve been to the factories in Aussie. I know all about them since their equipment was shipped to NZ after it was no longer of use. They were no more modern than New Zealand. The tyre presses were 40 years old. Workers there were only paid slightly more than in NZ, 60-70k for sitting on your ass 8hrs a day.

        Your assumption is quite wrong. I just know what was going on in this plant. My position was one of a middle man. Between the workers in the factory and the management staff. I got both sides of the story.

        • Daveo 4.1.1.1

          HR?

          • infused 4.1.1.1.1

            No. I worked various roles. Factory worker, techie (inspecting manufacturing from start to finish) and it guy.

            I left a year before it melted down.

            • Akldnut 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Could see the writing on the wall of your handywork?

            • George D 4.1.1.1.1.2

              Lack of investment is a problem. But when it hasn’t been done for decades, as you’ve said, then it can be just too expensive to make keeping the factory open. Shutting it down and opening a new one where you can pay a pittance makes a lot of sense.

              I wonder what they were thinking all that time they didn’t invest, however. A lot of foregone productivity.

              And I do agree that many new factories in China and India are equally productive – why wouldn’t they be?

        • the sprout 4.1.1.2

          sounds like a major failure of management if that were true

    • RedLogix 4.2

      I wonder what infused’s income really is and how he actually earns it? I wonder how he would feel if his job was closed down and sent to China? Apparently such elementary human considerations are absent his thinking.

      I’ve been blogging now over six years. In all that time I don’t think I’ve read a single actual argument from the right; least not one that made any sense to me. What I have endured was wading through endless piles of emotive detreitus, igorance, distortions, smears and outright folly.

      I can understand how folk react to change differently, that the political spectrum might realistically represent those who embrace the new, across to those who more naturally prefer the tried and true. But modern conservatism has long parted from this basis.

      This isn’t meant as any kind of insult, or attempt at an ad-hom (I’ve been around long enough to know how utterly pointless they are)… but I have sincerely formed the opinion that this ‘right/left wing’ thing is a crock of bollocks…. rather what passes for right wing thought these days is really nothing more than the sad rantings of dieased minds.

      It genuinely saddens me to say this.

  5. Nick C 5

    I for one think it is great that Bridgestone is moving to a poor country. This will mean people in far greater strife than New Zealand workers will get jobs which will lift them out of abject poverty, while at the same time improving the efficency of the tyre manafacturing industry

    Perhaps its time unions started asking what they can do for their employer, rather than what their employer can do for them if they want to keep jobs.

    • Daveo 5.1

      Again, some rightwing fuckwit blames the workers, without any evidence other than his own small-minded blame-the-victim prejudice. What’s your solution, Nick? That NZ workers take on Chinese rates of pay? I wonder if the management are considering pay cuts, or reducing the shareholder dividend.

      • Nick C 5.1.1

        I’m suggesting 2 things:

        1) Its not nessesarily a bad thing when you look at the big picture. The left like to harp on about living standards in the 3rd world, but here when 3rd world workers are being given jobs you oppose it on the grounds that the 1st world loses out.

        2) That workers dont have any sort of inherent right to have employment from bridgestone. Employment is always a mutually beneficial relationship and if the employer feels that he could get better value elsewhere he has every right to do business elsewhere. If what we want is to keep jobs in New Zealand, we should look at how to make it worthwhile for employers to employ in New Zealand, not slander companies who chose to move overseas.

        • Captain Rehab 5.1.1.1

          we should look at how to make it worthwhile for employers to employ in New Zealand, not slander companies who chose to move overseas.

          House-slave

  6. Sam 6

    When is some NZ politician going to wake up. Our society is being destroyed by removing the discipline from our schools creating such a violent generation of kids. But on the other hand we as citizens regulated out of existence and are told when we can smoke, how we cannot smack our children, if we exceed the speed limit we get points deducted by a unbelievable number of policemen, who are unable to deal with routine crime because the are apparently so understaffed. On the other hand the importers and financiers have a free hand. Our free floating dollar and unregulated importers have destroyed all our manufacturing industries or else driven them off shore while our forestry, horticulture and farming is suffering. Our much vaunted privatization of state monopolies has created a series of greedy leeches and apparently given us no benefits at all, just helped to drive workers wages down and directors wages up. Successive governments have combined all the worst features of Sue Bradford and Roger Douglass yet we never here a murmur from either side of the house, where in the name of God has common sense gone?

  7. Bevanjs 7

    “Aussie Minister shows guts, foresight and concern”
    Concern yes but “foresight and guts” were demonstrated how?
    What will his concern achieve versus reality. Will it achieve anything different from a politician that didn’t take an opportunity to sound concerned in the media? I suspect very little, why talk it up?

    • the sprout 7.1

      foresight for spelling out the longer term consequences of Bridgestone’s actions.

      guts for daring to stand up to a transnational corporation and publicly decrying their venality – not something I recall National doing.

      Carr’s response may achieve little, but it still seems like a more appropriate response for a representative of electors than just sitting on their hands and saying and doing nothing.

      • Bevanjs 7.1.1

        Seems to me the only spelling out he did was:

        “We will discuss with the South Australian Government and Bridgestone what actions can be taken to provide alternative employment for people who are displaced by the decision of Bridgestone, the commercial decision of Bridgestone, to close its plant.

        “We need time to actually assess the options.”

  8. Zaphod Beeblebrox 8

    Why are you guys arguing about the loss of manufacturing, the cause is obvious.
    The question is- what is the NZ government doing about creating value added better paying industries? What is our economic and education strategy? Maybe someone could ask Gerry Brownlee what his department is doing. Oh and you can ask Steven Joyce about the broadband strategy (where is it?) and Tolley about our education of our science/engineering students and Nick Smith about green jobs and Key about the tourism strategy. Move on guys- large csale manufacturing is not the answer.

  9. Clarke 9

    Just a quick note for mike, infused and all the rest of the financially illiterate righties …

    The Christchurch Press published the financial results for Bridgestone, which show that:

    Companies Office files show Bridgestone, a tyre maker, retailer and wholesaler, lost $7.1 million in the 2008 calendar year in New Zealand. The Bridgestone NZ loss in the previous year was $3.8m, but the company made a small $1.2m profit in 2006.

    [snip]

    In the latest year, employee benefits were $33.3m, up $3m on the previous year.

    Aside from normal costs, such as rent, freight and power, Bridgestone reported an unexplained $22.4m in “other expenses”, up from $17.7m in the previous year. The “other expenses” knocked the company from what would otherwise have been a profit into a $10m pre-tax loss, before a $3m tax benefit.

    So it would appear from the accounts that the real issue was not the increase in staff costs of around 10%, but the $5 million escalation in these mystery “other expenses”. And it’s clear that the union has no power over any expense line other than staff costs – responsibility for the rest of the business obviously rests with management.

    So before mouthing off about how unions have run the business into the ground, it might be helpful if you righties learned to actually read the financial accounts.

    • lprent 9.1

      For people who are ‘pro-business’ they do have an appalling inability to actually research what they say. Prefer to pick up their lines from other inaccurate people (like DPF) and run with them without engaging their brains…

      Mind you, so do many of the media commentators…

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