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But what about wages?

Written By: - Date published: 12:19 pm, November 2nd, 2007 - 8 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

NZCTU economist Peter Conway makes a good point about National’s spin in his latest Economic Bulletin.

After highlighting the shonky statistics behind the party’s attempts to inoculate the 1990s with its “Joanna Average” story, he goes on to point out how disingenuous the party is being in its pitch:

The disturbing part of all this is that it appears the National Party want the issue of decent incomes to be about tax & and only tax. Remember the last National Government attacked wages and conditions as well as benefits.

The 1992 benefit cuts were worth approximately $1.3 billion & about the same size of each of the tax cuts handed out in 1996 and 1998. Over 70 per cent of those tax cuts went to those in the highest incomes bands. And if for instance Joanna had been a supermarket worker in the 1990s her income over that period would have been down by 11 per cent in real terms if she worked Monday to Friday and reduced by up to 44 percent if she worked also some evening and weekend hours.

Those reductions were due to employment law. A familiar tactic which we see across the Tasman now & promise tax cuts while also planning to attack pay and conditions. The National Party supports a 90 day no-rights period of employment. If you are one of the 175,000 workers who at any one time are in their first 3 months on the job, imagine how much harder it is to support union claims for a wage increase when you know that if the boss sacks you there is no right of appeal.


8 comments on “But what about wages? ”

  1. Some good points here. Most importantly: the fact that the benefit cuts haven’t been reversed yet. Labour now seems to agree with Ruth Richardson’s benefit cuts! They refuse to reverse them. If Labour was in any way on the same side as beneficiaries then this would have been the first thing they’d do in government.

    And even The Standard doesn’t seem to want to campaign in favour of a return to more humane benefit levels.


  2. Robinsod 2

    Hi Bryce – while you’re here would you like to reply to my comment from an earlier thread?

  3. TomS 3

    Here is another sleeper issue for 2008, possibly for a minor party but one which I predict could garner LOTS of votes – food prices in the bio-fuel age. Lets face it, a dairy or corn farmer in this country would happily step over the starving at his or her farm gate if the Fonterra or bio-fuel payout kept going up to a point New Zealanders couldn’t afford to eat. The great Irish famine wasn’t about a potato blight, it was caused by a subsistance potato farmers with no cash suffering a crop failure and being unable to buy the food that Ireland continued to export to the U.K, which paid good money for it. The first party to suggest the possible price regulation and compulsory market quotas to keep meat, dairy and bread prices down would have plenty of popular support.

  4. r0b 4

    “promise tax cuts while also planning to attack pay and conditions”

    That is pretty much it in a nutshell isn’t it. National’s strategy will be to push the first part of that plan hard, while doing everything they can to distract us (law’n order! law’n order!) and hide the second part of the plan. Thank goodness people are starting to wake up.

    And Bryce, I don’t disagree with you about benefits, and I think you should reply to Robinsod.

  5. insider 5


    with dairy ethanol, it is actually currently the price of dairy driving the price of domestic dairy ethanol not the other way round.

    Fonterra can choose to make ethanol or lactose with its whey, and it has been getting far more for lactose than for ethanol (although that is linked to biofuel as it is driven by the international sugar price, which is driven by whether Brazil can make more from cane for ethanol or as sugar).

    So the ethanol price has to rise to meet the opportunity cost of lactose to be produced. Reports last year showed that that means raw ethanol would cost about $1.50 litre wholesale before Fonterra would consider converting from lactose production which equates to a hefty fuel price rise if you want to seriously pursue domestic ethanol.

    The reality is, there is not the capacity domestically to produce much ETOH and we will really need to import. There are some plans to convert Waikato land to maize but the economics of that are dodgy.

    New Zealand is trying to make a virtue out of producing biofuel from by products. That has a potential problem in that it means it is competing for resource which could easily shift based on where the value is as the case above demonstrates, and mean supply could be interrupted, whereas committed farmed biofuel could (only ‘could’) be more reliable.

    Price regulation is the last refuge of someone whose policies have fundamentally failed & the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going “la la la, I;m not listening”. Enough of us remember the disaster of the 70s to know it just doesn’t work.

  6. burt 6

    NZCTU economist Peter Conway makes a good point about spin alright. Check out his own pitiful attempt.

    The National Party supports a 90 day no-rights period of employment. If you are one of the 175,000 workers who at any one time are in their first 3 months on the job, imagine how much harder it is to support union claims for a wage increase when you know that if the boss sacks you there is no right of appeal.

    What a crock of sh1te. 175,000 people in their first 3 months of a job… So what is the dickhead saying is that throwing around a large number distracts from the point that in your first 90 days of employment you should have no fear of going on strike for a pay rise?

    Are we clear here, you accepted the job, pay and conditions less than 3 months ago and now you want to strike for an annual increase? Yep… The guy might have made some other valid points, but with crap like that it’s obvious the guys no intellectual giant.

  7. Leftie 7

    It’s easy to sit at your keyboard abusing Peter Conway isn’t it?

    “Fear” has got to be the keyword in your post. Fear created by dividing your workforce? How about not paying workers for the first 3 months, would that make you happy?

    I think your little powertrip is clouding your judgement.

  8. Benodic 8

    Burt in any workplace of reasonable size there will always be someone in their first three months of employment. And the nature of collective strike is that it is taken collectively, by everyone. Are you saying no one should ever go on strike because there may be someone covered by their collective agreement who hasn’t been there long?

    And do you not understand that there’s a difference between getting a pay rise by moving between pay scales, and the pay rise gained by collectively increasing the amount paid in those scales? Thought not.

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