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Between the lines: Nats’ work rights policy

Written By: - Date published: 12:52 pm, July 24th, 2008 - 87 comments
Categories: national, workers' rights - Tags: ,

You know you’re in for a treat when a political party’s ‘policy’ (I still refuse to consider half a dozen bullet points a policy) concerning the rights of New Zealanders at work the place most of us spend a good part of our days nearly avoids any mention of the word ‘rights’. On its surface, National’s ‘workplace’ policy seems fairly mild (bullet points help in that regard) but, when you look at what it actually means in practise it’s classic National: anti-worker, anti-rights, anti-wage rises. The difference between this policy and Brash’s extreme 2005 policy is one of tone, not substance.

Introduce a 90-day trial period for new employees by agreement between the employer and the employee, for businesses with fewer than 20 staff.

We’ve discussed the 90 Day No Rights policy already (1,2). It’s a mandate for bad bosses to stand over vulnerable workers. Workers will be able to be fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions, refusing to do unpaid overtime, joining a union, or any of a limitless list of ‘reasons’. Bad bosses will be able to keep the threat of instant dismissal over new workers at all times.

Continue to allow union access to workplaces with the employer’s consent. • Restore workers’ rights to bargain collectively without having to belong to a union.

Unions currently have the right to reasonably access workplaces to talk to members and to recruit. This policy means National would allow employers to bar the union from the workplace. Non-union collective bargaining is when a ‘bargaining agent’ (often the boss or paid by the boss) draws up a collective contract between workers and the boss. The boss refuses to deal with the workers’ union because there’s already a collective contract; workers can accept the collective offered or get nothing. These moves are designed to undermine collective bargaining and, thereby, weaken workers’ power to win better pay and conditions.

Retain the Mediation Service but ensure it is properly resourced with properly qualified mediators. • Require the Employment Relations Authority to act judicially in accordance with the principles of natural justice, including the right to be heard, and the right to cross-examine before an impartial referee. • Allow injunctions and important questions of law to be heard in the first instance in the Employment Court. • Allow a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The mediators in the Mediation service are already properly qualified, unless by ‘properly qualified’ National means ‘pro-employer’. The other changes seem designed to make the system more litigious and expensive, putting roadblocks in the way of workers being able to enforce their remaining work rights.

Keep four weeks annual leave, but allow employees to request trade of the fourth week for cash.

If you believe that the choice will genuinely be in workers’ hands, I have some magic beans you might be interested in buying.

Appoint a working party to review the Holidays Act, especially the issue of relevant daily pay.

Labour introduced relevant daily pay to make sure a worker’s leave pay equalled her average daily pay because many waged workers earn a large part of their pay through regular overtime but were previously only paid their ordinary time wages when they were sick or on holiday. National wants to reverse this.

Sometimes what is missing is just as revealing as what’s there: There’s no mention of ACC, paid parental leave, minimum wage increases, Kiwisaver, meal breaks, time and a half on public holidays, and so on. And despite all the rhetoric we’ve heard over the last year, absolutely no mention of how National would lift wages.

UPDATE: Jafapete has some good analysis here and Rogernome likewise here.

87 comments on “Between the lines: Nats’ work rights policy ”

  1. Scribe 1

    Steve,

    Workers will be able to be fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions, refusing to do unpaid overtime

    I don’t believe this is true, but I’m open to being shown some evidence of it.

    Especially when one considers this is part of National’s plan.

    Require the Employment Relations Authority to act judicially in accordance with the principles of natural justice, including the right to be heard, and the right to cross-examine before an impartial referee.

    How do the two examples you cite above support an employer having acted in accordance with the principles of natural justice?

    Scaremongering (again).

  2. higherstandard 2

    While I have no problem with the blog being partisan, the posts of late are becoming so biased as to make them absurd.

  3. Tane 3

    HS – Steve’s summary seemed pretty accurate to me. What in particular do you have an issue with?

  4. Scribe. You’re confusing two different policy strands. In the first 90 days workers won’t have access to the Employment Relations Authority and the employer will not be compelled to act in accordance with natural justice.

  5. Scribe 5

    Can anyone confirm Steve’s 2.02pm statement is true?

    1. I find it hard to believe.

    2. I believe Steve often grossly distorts National’s policy ideas.

    For example, I don’t think “Introduce a 90-day trial period for new employees by agreement between the employer and the employee, for businesses with fewer than 20 staff” secretly means “Workers will be able to be fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions, refusing to do unpaid overtime”.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    [Scribe. Don’t call me a liar. Especially when you don’t have any knowledge of the subject we are discussing. Read the 90 Day Bill, of which this policy is just a toned-down revival. It won’t take long; it’s only got a couple of clauses. You’re not allowed to take a personal grievance as the result of being dismissed, even if that dismissal was without justifiable reason. In the new version, you would be able to take a personal grievance if your dismissal breaches human rights – so it would be illegal to fire you for being pregnant but legal to fire you for refusing to work in unsafe conditions. SP]

  6. lprent 6

    hs: I’m with Tane.

    Steve’s summary seemed quite accurate given the sheer lack of detail in the National policy.

    Let me get your take on one little example.

    Retain the Mediation Service but ensure it is properly resourced with properly qualified mediators

    Now I’d usually treat properly resourced as meaning more resources. But if that was the case then why didn’t they say “…but ensure it has more resources ….”. That would have been the plain english version. Instead they put in a totally ambiguous statement.

    Now imagine that your objective was to slow down the progress of cases through the mediation service, and therefore increase the time involved to resolve disputes. “Proper” resource levels would be say a third of the current level.

    Tell me why you think that “properly resourced” isn’t a weasel phrase meaning absolutely nothing.

  7. lprent 7

    Scribe: Same thing – given the lack of detail, can you say that he isn’t correct?

    If they’d said what rights the workers have under the 90 days, then you could. Since they haven’t said – show me where is says they have any? Effectively they’d be prevented from going to the mediation services or employment court.

  8. Billy 8

    Bad bosses will be able to keep the threat of instant dismissal over new workers at all times.

    Well, at all times in the first 90 days.

    The other changes seem designed to make the system more litigious and expensive…

    That’s right Steve, natural justice makes things litigious and expensive. So why are you yelling and screaming when it is proposed to take it away from employees? So when it helps employees it is a vital protection and when it helps employers it makes the system more litigious and expensive?

    If you believe that the choice will genuinely be in workers’ hands, I have some magic beans you might be interested in buying.

    So Steve, a nice clever young man like you cannot be trusted to decide for himself whether he’d prefer an extra week’s holiday or the extra pay (say, because you were saving for an oe)? Or is it only for other people, those who must be protected because Labour considers them incapable of making their own decisions.

  9. Lew 9

    Scribe: The point is that the bill will likely give employers the right to fire employees for any reason at all, which manifestly does cover the situations SP mentions.

    At this stage there’s no proof, since the bill hasn’t been introduced. I guess SP is working on the quite reasonable presumption that they’d resurrect Wayne Mapp’s 2006 Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill, which makes very little change to the ERA – except to remove the right to a presonal grievance for wrongful dismissal no matter the reason or lack of reason for the dismissal within the first 90 days of employment.

    L

    [Tane: Fixed link]

  10. higherstandard 10

    Scribe SPs comments are seem to be at complete odds with.

    “Good-faith provisions will still apply, as will rights to sick leave, holidays, and health and safety provisions. Rules of natural justice and human rights legislation will apply. Mediation will be available in disputes, and employers won’t be able to hire and fire the same employee every 90 days,” Mr Key said.

    But you have to remember SP was the same person who led with a piece entitled – Key comes out against wage increases where he accused Key of saying wage inflation is a problem causing inflation and needs to be reduced. He, of course, never said any such thing but SPs never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    Lew I would think good faith provisions would pretty much preclude firing someone for anything at all.

  11. coge 11

    C’mon Iprent. So National “eats babies”. Lack of policy details does not preclude this suggestion. Is this your approach?

  12. Tane 12

    Billy. It’s not nice clever young men like SP who will lose their fourth week’s leave. It’s vulnerable, largely unskilled and non-unionised workers who will be coerced into selling their holidays.

    You simply can’t talk about ‘mutual agreement’ in an unequal power relationship. I know this from experience – when I worked in retail as a student I remember being told “Look, we need you to work this public holiday. We really need you to and we won’t look upon you fondly if you refuse.” In an environment where you’re paid shit and reliant on the employer’s good will to roster you onto shifts you don’t have a choice.

    Now add the 90 day no rights policy into the mix and tell me vulnerable workers will have a choice about whether they take their fourth week or not.

  13. Scribe 13

    Lew,

    If that’s correct (the link gave me a 404), then I would oppose such legislation.

    edit: Thanks HS. That sounds much more likely.

  14. higherstandard 14

    Tane

    “Now add the 90 day no rights policy into the mix and tell me vulnerable workers will have a choice about whether they take their fourth week or not.”

    This makes absolutely no sense unless your working from some calendar I’m not familiar with ?

  15. mike 15

    “Workers will be able to be fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions, refusing to do unpaid overtime, joining a union, or any of a limitless list of ‘reasons'”

    I guess we are going to be bombarded with this alarmist crap by the unions all the way up to the election. Problem is there are a lot gullible people out there…

  16. lprent at 2.17pm. Hey, I hadn’t spotted that. You really do have to be quick when you’re dealing with the Nats.

    There are some things that really do need clarifying fast, so let’s hope the journos read your blog and mine.

    HS at 2.24pm. No, not “at complete odds”. Can we have it in the law that employers will not be able to sack workers pursuing their legal rights to their minimum conditions like statutory holiday pay and sick leave? Hmm?

    mike at 2.35pm You should try sitting in on some Employment Relations Authority cases, then you’d see who’s being gullible here.

  17. Tim 17

    Higherstandard – you could be fired for joining a union, refusing to work overtime, refusing to perform unsafe work, being ugly or for any other reason. Under the bill you can be fired for any reason in the first 90 days and have no recourse under personal grievance provisions at all, which means you can’t challenge your dismissal in any way, as a personal grievance is the only way to challenge a dismissal.

    Rules of natural justice won’t apply, that aspect of National’s policy is misleading. If you have no way to challenge your dismissal there is no requirement to follow natural justice when dismissing someone.

    Good faith does not prevent dismissals.

    The Authority is already required to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice, so no change there. However, you won’t have access to the Authority if you are employed on a probationary period.

  18. Lew 18

    Scribe: Sorry, I munged the URL. Here’s a working one: http://www.national.org.nz/files/MAPP_probationary_MB0001.pdf

    HS: That’s an interesting point, but there are two issues. 1. Principle is a long way from practice, especially in low-wage poorly-organised workplaces. 2. I’m not an expert in this field but I believe that good faith is policed by the personal greivance system: if you believe your employer has fired you in poor faith, you take a personal greivance case against them (once other avenues have been exhausted). In this case the bill explicitly removes the right to take a personal greivance, so that avenue is simply not available until you’ve been working 90 days or longer.

    L

  19. Tane 19

    HS. Which ‘good faith provisions’ are you talking about?

    Good faith is about conduct during collective bargaining, not about unfair dismissal.

    Aside from the limitation to small business, there is nothing in National’s bullet-points to suggest National’s 90 day no rights policy is any different from what they proposed in 2006.

  20. Vanilla Eis 20

    Scribe:

    From the PDF that Lew linked to (Just take the bit referring to the Standard out, and start with the National Party website)

    New section 69AD excludes recourse by either party to dispute settlement under the Act, whether personal grievance procedures, mediation services or any other dispute settlement, in relation to probationary employment.
    However, this does not affect the employee’s rights under the Human Rights Act 1993 in the event that he or she suffers discrimination on the various grounds covered by that Act, or action for breach of contract in relation to probationary employment which could extend, for example, to recovery of wages.

    So the HRA still applies, but you have no recourse to mediation etc if fired for any reason that doesn’t breach the HRA. (I’m assuming, of course, that being required to work unpaid overtime breaches the HRA?)

  21. Quoth the Raven 21

    He, of course, never said any such thing but SPs never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    Except when he said “We would love to see wages drop.”

  22. lprent 22

    coge:

    Lack of policy details does not preclude this suggestion. Is this your approach?

    Yes. Sure go and put out a bullet point precis, but also put out the detail. My presumption is that only putting out precis by a political party, especially where the wording appears to be deliberately ambiguous, is an attempt to misled voters.

    Your assumption appears to be “she’ll be right mate” – are you really that credulous? If so, I have a bridge I’d like to sell.

    captcha: guarantee 1917

  23. Vanilla Eis. Overtime and payment of wages in general are not protected by the HRA. That’s done by the Wage Protection Act. As only HRA grounds are protected under the 90 Day policy you could be fired for refusing to work overtime or demanding your due pay or asking for a payrise and on and on and on

  24. Billy 24

    So Tane, Steve just shouldn’t be allowed to have one week’s holiday and an extra week’s pay if that’s what suits him?

    And you wonder why people say this government are bossy.

  25. Billy 25

    er…”is” bossy.

  26. Billy – not if it comes at the cost of other people having only three weeks holiday when they want to retain four.

  27. Billy. choice in general is good but it’s not always good (if you’ve ever tried to buy toothpaste you know too much choice is no fun). And there are such things are Clayton’s choices, things that appear to be choices but in fact the option most desirable to someone else is forced upon you. That’s not good.

    We know that in reality many workers would actually not have a choice if this policy went in – they would be forced by their employers to give up their fourth week.

  28. Billy 28

    C’mon, Steve, I am only defending your right to have an extra week’s pay if the money is of more value to you than the time off. If this suits you and the employer it just seems a little silly that you can’t.

  29. Leftie 29

    So I’ve asked this before. What’s in this for me as a worker? Nothing, I will be losing on the deal. If the National Party wants my vote they should give me a reason to vote for them.

    Onwards and upwards – not downwards and backwards.

  30. higherstandard 30

    Tane

    In terms of the 90 day grace period.

    From another commenter and I couldn’t put it much better myself, worthy of debating I suggest.

    “In many situations it takes a substantive effort to introduce an employee to a business. By the time 90 days is up the investment by the employer may be substantively higher than the salary cost.

    I suspect, apart from the most scummy of employers, there is no way an employee is going to sack a series of staff after 89 days.

    I would suggest that only if a person had proven themselves manifestly unsuitable would their employment be terminated.

    Under current laws the only way to end employment is to go through a complicated chirade of warnings, letters, training, more warnings, more interviews, all to achieve the same ends, but at huge expense to the staff member’s self belief, at large cost to the business and consumption of time by the employer and employee.

    What is sad about National’s policy is that it only applies to work places with 20 or less staff. It’s too little and too modest and won’t do very much at all to move NZ forward. “

  31. higherstandard 31

    Leftie

    No there’s nothing in this for you as a worker – what were you looking for in particular.

    Serious question I think that’s what we forget when debating these things what do the employers and employees themselves actually want.

    captcha questioned at …. ye gods

  32. Matthew Pilott 32

    HS – the cases people are more worried about are the ones where it’s not too hard to find fresh meat, so to speak. If you have a long and rigorous employment process, you’re less likely to need to turf someone after 89 days anyway.

    That passage also fails to address the coercive impact a no-rights bill would have on new employees. I suppose you could suffer under bad conditions for 90 days before complaining, but hell, it would be enough to keep people from moving jobs, and I don’t even see why National would encourage a viscous employment situation…

  33. Leftie 33

    Why stop at selling one week of holidays? Sell the whole lot. After all what is the point of actually taking time off work?
    Of course if the minimum adult hourly rate is not moving much and wages are not moving much, a person may be forced to sell their holidays.

  34. Tane 34

    HS – some rights are so core that they need to be enshrined in law. Leaving the livelihoods of Kiwi families to the whim of their employer is simply not good enough.

    I agree that most employers will not abuse this law. But many will, and their workers will suffer unjustly.

    The reason we have these laws is to provide workers and their families with some basic security of income. National’s policy would remove that security.

  35. Billy. Robinsod puts it better than I could – there’s no point me having the ‘freedom’ to only take three weeks holiday if it means others in worse position than myself won’t have the freedom to take four.

  36. Billy 36

    Leftie, lots of self-employed people, many of them on modest incomes, effectively do “sell” all of their holidays. Do you propose to make this illegal as well?

  37. Tane 37

    “Hello workers. You know how we banned your union from the workplace and instituted a non-union collective agreement? Well guess what, this year we’re cutting your pay by 2%. You can make that up by selling your fourth week’s leave. But of course, it’s entirely your choice. Except for you lot in your first 90 days – you’re signing over your leave now or else you’re out the door. Any questions? Thought not.”

  38. Tane 38

    Billy. Work rights are the rights an employee has in dealing with his or her employer. To speak of the work rights of someone who is self-employed is an absurd excercise in semantics – they decide their own working conditions as they see fit.

  39. Scribe 39

    I see the partisans at Scoop have had some fun with Photoshop and put Donald Trump’s hair on John Key’s head. http://www.scoop.co.nz

    Is anyone under an illusion that those guys are impartial? It’s getting quite embarrassing for them. They wouldn’t do something similar for the Prime Minister.

  40. Leftie 40

    Billy…what Tane said. Lets stay on the same page aye.

  41. mike 41

    “We know that in reality many workers would actually not have a choice if this policy went in – they would be forced by their employers to give up their fourth week.”

    What do you base this statement on Steve?
    How would the employer force someone to give up the forth week.

    Your scaremongering is getting ridiculous

  42. roger nome 42

    Awsome work Steve. I’ve also had a crack at reading between the lines on this one (which is difficult given the lack of detail).

    http://rogernome.blogspot.com/2008/07/nationals-2008-industrial-relations.html

  43. HS. If someone is incompetent, there is a simple process to deal with them – discuss the issue, warn them, offer assistance to help them get up to speed, warn again, sack. If your reasons are fair, then it’s hardly a burdensome process – make the worker aware fo your concerns, warning the worker to do better, helping them do better, warning them of the sack if they don’t, sacking them when they won’t/can’t.

    And, of course, if there’s gross misconduct (stealing, fighting, abandonment of the job) dismissal can be immediate without these stages.

    Sounds like a topic for a spinbusting post, actually.

  44. Tane 44

    Mike, I explained how just such a situation happened to me once further up the thread.

  45. Blar 45

    If you believe that the choice will genuinely be in workers’ hands, I have some magic beans you might be interested in buying.

    If you really consider that to be “between the lines” analysis then you probably believe those beans are magic…

  46. lprent 46

    Scribe:

    Is anyone under an illusion that those guys are impartial?

    There is all of that photo shopped junk from Whale etc. I guess that someone thought that field of exercise had already been fully explored. They tried new fields.

    However I suspect this more a case of attacking the messenger. Wasn’t that in the C/T rulebook somewhere. So for that matter was diverting away from context to something trivial.

    Scribe – you seem to follow the C/T tactical book quite well? For that matter some of the other comments up here seem to be organised that way as well.

  47. lprent 47

    Blar: Explain why the circumstances outlined could not happen under this ‘policy’ given that there is bugger all detail. It is hard to complain about the analysis if you can’t say why it won’t happen.

    Frankly the policy at this level looks like total bullshit for the media to get headlines from. So people on this site like picking holes in bullshit policies

  48. Scribe 48

    lprent,

    I went to Scoop to look at policies etc, and stumbled across it.

    Whale doesn’t try to operate in an objective way and people know what they get. Scoop claims to be “independent news”; it’s just another left-wing mouthpiece.

  49. Rex Widerstrom 49

    Reflecting on the Australian experience:

    [The “90 day rule” is] a mandate for bad bosses to stand over vulnerable workers… Bad bosses will be able to keep the threat of instant dismissal over new workers at all times.

    The introduction of Workchoices (which had similar provisions, except they lasted forever and applied to anyone working in a business with less than 100 employees) allowed exactly this to happen. The number of bosses who misused the provisions was infinitessimal compared to the number firms in the economy but the actions of this handful adversely affected the lives of thousands of workers and their families. The ACTU leapt on every instance and made sure it was known. Fall-out was so bad that it’s seen as one of the primary reasons the Coalition lost. So: severe adverse affect for a minority of workers; creates fear and uncertainty in the rest; bad for the Party that introduces it. Ergo, negative and stupid.

    If you believe that the choice [to request trade of the fourth week’s leave for cash] will genuinely be in workers’ hands, I have some magic beans you might be interested in buying.

    In Australia the law allows for 50 percent of your annual leave to be traded for cash. Most workers seem pleased to have the option (I exercised it once myself and had an incredible two weeks rather than a mediocre four) and, unlike the dismissal provisions no one seems to be complaining about bosses acting unreasonably. Certainly it’s not a major focus of the ACTU’s “Your Rights at Work” campaign, unlike the dismissal issue.

    Extrapolating wildly here, but if you’re in a position of negotiating to trade off your annual leave for cash, that means you’ve been there at least a year and thus are probably working for a reasonable boss who hasn’t had a dummy spit and sacked you because you’re not prepared to put up with his or her capriciousness.

    You’re right about the brevity and the language. This is either fiendishly clever stuff carefully crafted by evil geniuses so it can mean just about anything, or it’s vague thinking cobbled together in a hurry with no thought for precision just because they can’t go into an election with no policy, but they’re so sure of winning they can’t be bothered making the effort. Not good either way.

  50. lprent 50

    I don’t believe that there is a such a thing as being “objective” in the media. Look at the Granny for instance. Being independent doesn’t mean that they don’t have a viewpoint – so what.

    I corrected the spelling during edit – dictionary caught me.

  51. Scribe 51

    I think if we cut through what’s being said, National’s policy leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

    Steve (and others) are filling in the blanks with scaremongering tactics about what might happen. Others are looking at it and giving National the benefit of the doubt, expecting the “law of common sense” to prevail.

    We can look forward to more concrete policy rollout when the PM announces an election date. Until then, debating with Steve will continue to be a very tiresome process.

  52. higherstandard 52

    SP

    Keep four weeks annual leave, but allow employees to request trade of the fourth week for cash.

    “If you believe that the choice will genuinely be in workers? hands, I have some magic beans you might be interested in buying.”

    The Nats are on the record as saying.

    “That would be only at the employee’s request and could not be raised in employment negotiations. National understands that many people are doing it hard, and they would opt for cash in hand rather than a week off work.

    But that won’t be the case for everyone, that’s why it will be entirely in the hands of the worker.”

    I suggest you email the Nats and see if they’re interested in your magic beans.

    edit – Scribe agreed when’s the last possible date for the election. I suspect they’ll try to put it off as long as possible

  53. roger nome. cheers. the lack of due process element of the 90 Day policy is a real problem – it opens the door for dismissal even on supposedly prohibited grounds.

    I’ve also noticed something strange. You and jafapete have quoted from the media release and I’ve gone from the PDF of the policy – they say different things regarding union access. In the PDF, union access is permitted only with the employer’s consent. In the media release, that permission cannot be reasonably withheld…

    … god, what a party, you can’t trust their spokespeople to know policy in their own areas and concurrently released statements of the same policy state the policy in substantially different ways.

  54. IrishBill 54

    “That would be only at the employee’s request and could not be raised in employment negotiations.”

    They said something similar about individual contracts last time around.

  55. Scribe 55

    lprent,

    I don’t believe that there is a such a thing as being “objective’ in the media.

    There is objectivity in the media (though rare); however, no journalist is objective. His or her writing can be, though.

    As far as the Herald goes, some people have short memories. The Herald’s coverage of two huge stories the week of the 2005 election probably determined the outcome. Brethren, page 1. Taito, page 5 or so. And which story is still actual news today?

    Regarding the Scoop photoshopping, why is that OK but the photoshopping on Whale Oil is evil?

  56. Scribe 57

    hs,

    They do run satire from time to time, and I don’t have a problem with photoshopped images being created to supplement such articles.

    I find it off-putting when they do it to accompany press releases etc. It’s editorialising something on a site that’s supposed to be the words straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

    Anyway, we’re getting off topic. Apologies SP et al.

  57. Lew 58

    Scribe: “Regarding the Scoop photoshopping, why is that OK but the photoshopping on Whale Oil is evil?”

    Well, for one thing, they photoshopped a toupee on his head, rather than his head onto porn.

    It’s the cheerful waggery of chalk-drawings on the footpath as compared to the tagging of spraypaint genitals on billboard models.

    L

  58. lprent 59

    Scribe: Ummm I think that the bretheren thing comes up every time that the ERA is mentioned? Bet that has more column inches since 2005 than Taito does.

    I think that the photo shopping will happen regardless. I suspect that scoop will do whatever happens to be topical. It is the current equivalent of satirical cartoons.

    I’m afraid that this type of crappy press release from the Nat’s (can’t really call it a policy) will allow a lot of speculation. Expect more of it

  59. Scribe 60

    Scribe: Ummm I think that the bretheren thing comes up every time that the ERA is mentioned? Bet that has more column inches since 2005 than Taito does.

    Well, whatever one says about the Brethren’s pamphlets, you can’t say they were illegal. The jury’s still out on Taito, literally, despite the fact the only thing he was apparently guilty of, to paraphrase the PM, was helping his constituents.

  60. lprent 61

    Nope – I can’t say they were illegal.

    However I can say that I think the the 1993 electoral act was very poorly written. It seems to have been designed to cause problems in a MMP environment. The specific actions like putting what were essentially bogus addresses on attack pamphlets should have been covered by the act but weren’t.

    Taito has mainly been done under other acts for much the same reason.

    [lprent: get back on topic – oops that is me….]

  61. Blar 62

    “Blar: Explain why the circumstances outlined could not happen under this ‘policy’ given that there is bugger all detail. It is hard to complain about the analysis if you can’t say why it won’t happen.”

    There were no circumstances outlined there – just a snide remark.

    That’s an assertion, not analysis and an assertion can be disproved as easily as one can be made.

  62. Bill 63

    Leaving aside the detail, if I can sensibly use that term in relation to Nat party policy…

    If Nat’s employment policy was not really going to change anything, (as the right seem to be arguing) it wouldn’t have been put out there in the first place.

    So what are the potential changes?

    Logically they can only be somewhere on the scale of negative scenarios that have been postulated on comments here.

    Positive changes would have been trumpeted by the Nats but I’ve heard nothing anywhere besides unconvincing protestations that things will remain much as they are at present…which makes no sense whatsoever for the reason given at the beginning of this comment.

  63. Searching 64

    The Australian experience:

    Union says boss told apprentice “get haircut, no tomatoes, you’re a fag’
    Article from: The Daily Telegraph

    By Joe Hildebrand, Political Reporter

    July 24, 2008 12:00am

    AN ABUSED teenage apprentice was told by his boss that he wasn’t allowed to put fresh tomato on his sandwiches in his lunch break.

    He was also told he wasn’t allowed to make phone calls on his breaks, his mum wasn’t to drive him to work and he had to have a haircut once a week.

    In an extraordinary catalogue of alleged abuse, recorded by the young man in his diary, employer John Ryan also called trainee cabinetmaker Byron Nolan a “fag”, forced him to wash all the workers’ dishes and accused him of taking drugs.

    Byron was also forced to do unpaid work on the weekends and was not paid for the first two weeks of his employment.

    Mr Ryan then sacked him two days before his three-month probation ended.

  64. Lew 65

    Scribe: “There is objectivity in the media (though rare); however, no journalist is objective. His or her writing can be, though.”

    I meant to respond to this earlier, but was too busy.

    Objectivity in the media (any media, not just the news) is a Heisenbug – a phenomenon which changes because you observe it. The process of making an event or policy or an idea into a format which is consumable means that some things get left in, some get left out, and some get misrepresented.

    Allow me to quote Nick Davies:

    “The great blockbuster myth of modern journalism is objectivity, the idea that a good newspaper or broadcaster simply collects and reproduces the objective truth. It is a classic Flat Earth tale, widely believed and devoid of reality. It has never happened and never will happen because it cannot happen. Reality exists objectively, but any attempt to record the truth about it always and everywhere necessarily involves selection, by using the kind of judgements [described above]. In this sense, all news is artifice.” (From Flat Earth News, which should be required reading for anyone who cares about how the media works.)

    If you want to test this, take a day off and immerse yourself in it. For a day in my life, do at least half of the following: listen to Morning Report and Paul Homes and Marcus Lush; read the DomPost and the Herald and the ODT. then listen to Midday Report and The World At Noon, then Larry Williams Drive and Bill Ralston Drive and Checkpoint, then watch One News, 3 News and Prime News. There will, on a given day, be a large degree of commonality between these sources, in terms of the stories they cover. However the angle on each outlet’s rendition of each story will be (sometimes subtly, sometimes not) different. Which one is objective? It’s quite possible for two renditions of the same story to both be perfectly true – based on the same facts, and the same assumptions, and even the same soundbites – and yet not be identical. You could say they are equally objective, but objectivity isn’t a sort-of quality: something either is or it isn’t. You’d be more correct to say they’re equally unobjective.

    Of course, it’s easy to answer this question ideologically – the one which favours the government/the opposition (or whatever) is the one you consider to be objectively correct. But I don’t need to tell you that’s intellectually dishonest 🙂

    Edit: Perhaps the source of the confusion is that people tend to say `objective’ when they mean `unbiased’.

    L

  65. johndoe 66

    Lew, you should try a paper in journalism. You might be surprised to discover that there are ways to report facts in a balanced way. Increasingly, that’s not how things are done. That’s something to be sad about, not to celebrate.

    But on point, remember, please, that this applies to very small businesses – the ones in which the owner is likely down in the trenches slaving away with the staff. These are not faceless corporate minions accountable only to shareholders. They’re real people, most of whom work on a profit shoestring. Forcing businesses like that to carry dead wood because they can’t afford to dismiss someone is an insult to the other members of the team.

    But, then, first, you have to admit that small business owners are workers, too. And fully human.

  66. Lew 67

    Johndoe: “there are ways to report facts in a balanced way.”

    `Balanced’ is not the same as `objective’; in fact, balance can be the enemy of objectivity because reality is not balanced. Reporting the facts in a balanced way tends to lead to false equivocation – the fallacy which leads lazy journalists to give a tiny minority of climate change skeptics’ opinions the same weight as the vast majority of climate scientists who consider anthropogenic climate change as good as proven; or citing the Residents’ Action Movement as some sort of authority on GST, or any number of other similar cases. Not to say that dissenting or heterodox voices should be excluded – just that they often receive more weight than their due in the name of balance, and therefore, balance can itself be a distortion.

    L

  67. Draco TB 68

    Not to say that dissenting or heterodox voices should be excluded – just that they often receive more weight than their due in the name of balance, and therefore, balance can itself be a distortion.

    I’d agree with that and you have to question if the balance is because the media wants to be balanced or because of it’s bias in favour of certain viewpoints.

  68. IrishBill 69

    “I’d agree with that and you have to question if the balance is because the media wants to be balanced or because of it’s bias in favour of certain viewpoints.”

    There’s a little of both there but the main point in “balance” is the fulcrum which is conflict. The orthodoxy is that it is not news without a point of conflict and that means that no matter how much consensus their is on an issue the dissenting voice needs to be there to provide that conflict. Of course that means being oppositional (even to the point of absurdity) is the best way to get coverage. That’s why National do hit and run PR and that’s why fringe groups like the sensible sentencing trust get so much coverage. The sad part is that this means the moderate voice is often sidelined.

  69. Alex 70

    I think it’s pretty obvious that by “selling” your fourth week of annual leave, employers will simply adjust wages in such a way so that if workers want what would otherwise have been their normal salary, they are compelled to sell their fourth week of annual leave.

    It’s a sneaky way of reducing annual leave back to three weeks.

  70. Bill 71

    At bargaining I want a 6% pay increase. The boss argues that ‘buying back’ one week of annual leave = a 2% increase and digs his heels in at 4%.

    Of course, the 2% that the boss points to is money he would have paid out in wages anyway to someone else while I was on leave.

    The ‘buy back’ is about reducing wage demands/ wages, NOT annual leave. The boss is going to be paying for 4 weeks leave regardless.

  71. lprent 72

    Lew:

    You could say they are equally objective, but objectivity isn?t a sort-of quality: something either is or it isn?t. You?d be more correct to say they?re equally unobjective.

    Perhaps the source of the confusion is that people tend to say `objective? when they mean `unbiased?.

    I don’t believe either objectivity or unbiased are possible. All you can really do is know what the preemptive biases are.

    That is why I like The Economist. Clearly has a distinct of set of biases as an institution and proudly proclaims them. But their articles clearly state alternative ideas and why they disagree with them. They also discourse on previous opinions and explain why they turned out to be incorrect. There are a number of other news media around like that.

    The media here often do have the thoughtful articles – but well into the paper. Their headline articles tend to be insipid, thoughtless, and what looks like headline driven rather than news driven.

    That of course shows up in the type of pap that is fed to the media as ‘policy’. For instance an industrial relations policy as 12 or so bullet points with ambiguous meanings. However if that is what the media are willing to accept, then that is what they will get.

    Who cares what is on page 15? Well I do – probably why I don’t watch TV news or ‘current affairs’ any more. At least the net means I can find out this stuff without having it filtered. I can find the clearly biased opinion and make my own assessment of their biases.

  72. Swampy 73

    You haven’t justified why time and a half should be paid on public holidays in addition to the extra pay that a worker already gets.

    They should either get paid OR a paid day off. At the moment they effectively get both.

    Labour promotes policies which are designed to penalise the employer because the unions hate employers. Another example is Kiwisaver. We hear a lot about the tax credit that doesn’t actually cover the full cost of forced employer contributions that has become another employment cost.

  73. Quoth the Raven 74

    What is sad about National’s policy is that it only applies to work places with 20 or less staff. It’s too little and too modest and won’t do very much at all to move NZ forward.

    You do realise HS that franchises like subway would be covered under this. So if a subway restaurant has 20 or less staff then it’s covered by this. There are thousands of vulnerable low paid employees who will have their rights removed by this. Remember workers rights are human rights.

  74. Lew 75

    Lynn: “I don’t believe either objectivity or unbiased are possible. All you can really do is know what the preemptive biases are.”

    I agree entirely. In many ways, getting to the heart of a matter is a process of triangulation – read widely around a story, look for the common threads which appear in each rendition, and most importantly, which are left out, by whom, and for what apparent reasons.

    L

  75. lprent 76

    Lew: Yep and beware of people that “have the truth” because they are sure to be lying to themselves. In the end you have to make up your own mind on each issue and labels are irrelevant.

    In the end, as your world picture evolves, all you can be sure of is that you have to make a decisions because to not make them is to make them by default. I changed over decades from a arrogant simplistic lad with attitudes like Rob, to a reluctant socialist (still arrogant however). The more I looked at people and history, the more you realize that talent arises in unexpected places, and society survives as a whole by allowing talent to flourish.

    For all of the waffling of the neo-cons/neo-libs, they cling to the unproven theory that opportunity happens without infrastructure. It does for those who are willing to sacrifice most of their life to chase it. However that it is only the most obsessive and maladjusted who are willing to do that.

    To allow whole groups of people to seize opportunities you have to provide the social infrastructure for it to happen. To the uninformed this looks like social engineering whereas it is social and economic survival generations out.

    I’ve said this many times before – most of the ‘right’ are defined by their habit of thinking short-term.

  76. Lew 77

    Well said, Lynn.

    L

  77. Hamish 78

    This blog is a joke. How at all does it attempt to come to a balanced judgement on any of the issues? Instead we’re left stranded with the same anti-employer and anti-business sentiment over and over again.

    Maybe it’s time for a change in tact.

  78. Swampy 79

    “Non-union collective bargaining is when a ‘bargaining agent’ (often the boss or paid by the boss) draws up a collective contract between workers and the boss. The boss refuses to deal with the workers’ union because there’s already a collective contract; workers can accept the collective offered or get nothing. These moves are designed to undermine collective bargaining and, thereby, weaken workers’ power to win better pay and conditions.”

    Actually, this is already the case (except for non-union collectives) – employers are not compelled to bargain collectively. In theory there could also be another collective agreement signed by another union in the same workplace, since there are in some cases several unions representing the same occupational group.

    Labour and all supporters should recognise by now that the MECA in particular is an attempt to reintroduce industry awards by another means. Collectives should be limited to one employer rather than being allowed to spread across multiple employers as the MECA is designed to do.

  79. Anita 80

    Swampy,

    Labour and all supporters should recognise by now that the MECA in particular is an attempt to reintroduce industry awards by another means. Collectives should be limited to one employer rather than being allowed to spread across multiple employers as the MECA is designed to do.

    Why should they be limited to a single employer?

    We’ve all seen MECAs within the public sector benefit both employers and workers as there is a clear economy of scale when it comes to bargaining. I’ve never been sure if the advantage is unique to the public sector (where the employers aren’t in competition), are there places in the private sector where MECAs are working?

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