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English on our low wage growth

Written By: - Date published: 9:38 am, May 30th, 2017 - 40 comments
Categories: bill english, class war, national, uncategorized, wages - Tags: , , , , , ,

Bill English knows that our low wage economy is a ticking time-bomb for the government. He must be starting to get worried (great piece by Jenée Tibshraeny on interest.co.nz):

Prime Minister Bill English admits wage growth isn’t ‘hot’; Says businesses need to increase pay significantly before complaining about skills shortages

Prime Minster Bill English says businesses need to be willing to put cash on the table to attract the right talent, before complaining about skills shortages.

Hardly a radical idea. But the fact that English is prepared to come out and say it shows how worried he is that low wages are dragging the tide out from under National.

“The general wage data tells us wage growth is better than inflation, but [I] certainly wouldn’t describe it as ‘hot’.”

Annual wage inflation held steady at 1.6% in the March quarter, with growth in private sector wages falling to their lowest point since the June 2010 quarter.

While the consumer price index rose 2.2% year-on-year in the March quarter, wage growth has been higher than inflation in previous quarters.

Given that the official inflation measure significantly under-counts the huge and rapidly escalating cost of renting / housing that is hardly reassuring.

Asked about the extent to which an uptick in migration in particular has contributed to subdued wage growth, English said: “We see the skilled migrants filling the gaps. That’s what you pick up from the businesses who are employing them; that they’re employing someone from offshore because they can’t get locals to fill the gaps.”

Mmmm. In theory perhaps, but in practice “The Treasury warned that record levels of immigration could push New Zealanders out of low-skilled jobs, depress wages and increase housing pressures”. See also: Mike Yardley: New Zealand’s immigration settings suppressing pay rates, Bernard Hickey: Too many visas, not enough pay.

All this said, English expects wage growth to rise over time.

Mmmm. Over time. He said the same thing in 2016. He said the same thing in 2014. The same thing in 2012. The same thing in 2011 (when he also tried to convince us that low wages were actually an advantage for NZ). I could go on but you get the picture. Bill English promises you jam tomorrow. Always has, always will.

National represents those who are perfectly happy with a low wage economy. If you want to change that you need to change the government.

40 comments on “English on our low wage growth ”

  1. Ad 1

    Anthony that was great until the last sentence.

    What is Labour or Greens plan for a high wage economy?

      • Ad 1.1.1

        That report contains a series of extremely broad recommendations.
        Not policies.
        It’s not too much to ask for in election year.

        And from what I could see, only recommendation T12 got anywhere close to answering any part of my question.

        • WILD KATIPO 1.1.1.1

          And Bill the Double Dipper English has always strung the working people of this country along with his extremely broad generalizations.

          He’s been at it ever since he lauded NZ having a LOW WAGE ECONOMY because it attracted foreign investment and made us ‘ competitive’ with Australia ….

          Fuck the bloody foreign investment and fuck his competing with Australia for the race to the bottom in wages. If that’s the extent of his globalist free market economy he can take another massive defeat just like the last time the little shit was PM.

          We don’t want his low wage economy – any more than we want his Club of Rome slavishness. He can stick that firmly up where the sun doesn’t shine , mate.

          Oh , and BTW , – the Double Dipper goes on record as stating at a business luncheon he was attending that the concept of the sovereign nation state will soon cease to exist,… so Jimmy , – what replaces that , then ?… you’ve got it,… the little shit is a subversive one world governmenter. That’s who Bill the Double Dipper Subversive English is all about.

          Always has been always will be,

          A truly despicable little man.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            …any more than we want his Club of Rome slavishness.

            Club of Rome:

            The Club of Rome is an organisation of individuals who share a common concern for the future of humanity and strive to make a difference. Our members are notable scientists, economists, businessmen, high level civil servants and former heads of state from around the world. Their efforts are supported by the Secretariat in Winterthur, Switzerland, the European Research Centre registered in Constance, Germany and National Associations in more than 30 countries.
            The Club of Rome conducts research and hosts debates, conferences, lectures, high-level meetings and events. The Club also publishes a limited number of peer-reviewed “Reports to the Club of Rome”, the most famous of which is “The Limits to Growth“.

            Yeah, I don’t think you’ll find anyone in National that’s supportive of the Club of Rome.

            • WILD KATIPO 1.1.1.1.1.1

              And the Club of Rome was created around 1967 , and do you know what they were truly charged with doing?

              Several things.

              One was creating 10 trade regions around the globe. Sound familiar?

              Think Nafta, TTPA , and its European counterpart.

              The other thing it was charged with doing is creating ‘apocalypse scenarios’. Ever wonder where the 1970’s ‘ overpopulation ‘ crisis came from? . Well , well , well,… the worlds moved on and we are above 6 billion people. And still the world turns quite happily.

              Another favorite of theirs was the ‘ oil ‘ crisis. Help !!! – the worlds suddenly running out of oil !!! ,… the only problem is , – oils now at an all time low per barrel and cheaper than it ever was relatively. So much for the ‘ energy’ crisis. Apparently there is an oil surplus in 2017.

              Then we have everyone’s latest favorite. Global warming. This one will set the greenies aflame if you merely so much as mention it.

              So where does all the funding for scientists and massive media campaigns and lobby groups come from…. and just where and more to the point ,- WHO – are dreaming up these dire coming cataclysmic world events ?

              We can believe the sanitized little blurbs about these groups all we want . And yeah we probaly wont find any particular National party member belonging to the Club of Rome. But what we will find is they and other large power groups that disseminate global trends to which lil ole NZ follows along with.

              A little bit like Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson being members on the Board of Directors of the Mont Pelerin Society , – the London based group that planned the 1984 neo liberal usurping of our Keynesian based Social Democracy.

              This ,… is how these scumbags work. And its all done with the veneer of decency and psuedo rationale.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Well , well , well,… the worlds moved on and we are above 6 billion people. And still the world turns quite happily.

                We’re at 7 billion plus and we can’t support them sustainably at Western levels of resource use.

                Then we have everyone’s latest favorite. Global warming. This one will set the greenies aflame if you merely so much as mention it.

                Ah, so you’re a denier. Which, of course, makes listening to you worthless.

                • I guess the woolly mammoths felt the same way when the ice age took them out suddenly as well ,… I’m sure they denied it was getting a bit chillier…

                  And blamed those gnasty humans with all their smoky campfires…

                  Honestly DTB,…

                  You sometimes are such a sucker for believing anything you read despite all your anti capitalist rants…

              • Flamin’ greenies and their naive reliance on science!

                • Yeah dammit – and you can blame my Dip Sc tutors for teaching us all about it and prefacing it with ” DEPENDING ON WHO YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE ”… while they went on to teach us all about the chemistry of it, stats , maths and data…

                  Still,… I’ll bet those English vineyard owners were kind of pissed off they couldn’t grow grapes in England any more 1000 years ago when it was warmer , when the weather decided to get a bit nippier , – and then had to rely on French imports instead ….

                • Stunned mullet

                  I blame it all on the vaccinations and fluoride in the water.

      • Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 1.1.2

        Here is an interesting interview of Phil Twyford discussing Labour’s housing policy with property developer Don Ha. It gives a good explanation of how Labour will provide affordable housing -remember a reduction in cost of living is the equivalent to an increase in wages.

        Brian Easton -the old economist who used to write for the Listener when I was a kid also has a good critique on Phil Twyford’s and Labour housing policy -looking through the lense of whether National is stealing Labour’s policy clothes.
        https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/is-national-stealing-labour%E2%80%99s-social-policy-clothing

    • greg 1.2

      whats national plan to deliver pay parity with Australia as promised when ???

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Who would ever have thought that undermining the right to collective bargaining would result in a decline in wages? I for one am flabbergasted. No-one in their wildest dreams could have predicted it.

    I mean, what sort of stupid business owner shits on their workers? it just doesn’t make sense to me. This must be some sort of market distortion. Obviously the solution is more deregulation, and tax cuts.

    • Ha! – the Business Roundtable – ( now the NZ Institute ) knew EXACTLY the end results in getting the Employment Contracts Act passed through Bolger ( another good Catholic boy – could’ve been taking advice from his Jesuit advisers like English is for all we know…and most probably was . ).

      They’ve been planning at doing this for years.

      Back to their 19th century ‘ free market economy ‘ .

      Back to having workers die down coal mines – oh wait – we’ve already reached that point. They’d have kids crawling up chimneys to sweep em and dying of black lung if it wasn’t for the fact its now politically incorrect to encourage the burning of fossil fuels!!!

      Globalists.

      Elitist subversives.

      Wakey wakey , … eggs and bakey.

    • samantha 2.2

      To the anonymous bloke. Of course employers take advantage of good hardworking people when greed and self interest are the only games in town that matter and there are no checks and balances to mitigate this basic human behaviour. The dirty filthy gutless National government have enabled many in areas like Marlborough to exploit immigrants.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        Heresy! Do you deny the supreme divinity of Market!? Negative remarks like yours can affect stock values!

        We aren’t talking about some house of cards here! Investment portfolios are at stake! Who will put a dollar in the tip jar if you persist in hurting the wealthy? Won’t someone think of the trust fund?

  3. saveNZ 3

    Bill English “Says businesses need to increase pay significantly before complaining about skills shortages….. ”

    Why would businesses want to increase wages when they have 188,000 working visas, to exploit…

    Auckland restaurant worker claims exploitation, says forced to work to point of collapse

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/05/auckland-restaurant-worker-exploited-forced-to-work-to-point-of-collapse.html

    The other end of the scale is the amount of people now on ACC or with health problems, who after being sucked dry from exploitative working conditions and after getting their residency are now not fit for work and have to be on ACC or health leave or just are unemployed because they are not prepared to be exploited, once resident.

    • keepcalmcarryon 3.1

      Too right.
      The OP says English is happy with low wages, actually he has been actively pulling levers to achieve it, its not just a matter of him being pleasantly surprised wages are low.

  4. Kevin 4

    Asked about the extent to which an uptick in migration in particular has contributed to subdued wage growth, English said: “We see the skilled migrants filling the gaps. That’s what you pick up from the businesses who are employing them; that they’re employing someone from offshore because they can’t get locals to fill the gaps.”

    We must have the highest skilled waiting staff in the Western world now.

    • Barfly 4.1

      And Countdown the highest skilled shelf fillers in the world

      • saveNZ 4.1.1

        The most highly skilled petrol attendants, farm milkers, low level IT support, fruit pickers and chefs….

        That must be why our productivity is static or lowering.

        One skilled and highly educated Kiwi from NZ migrating overseas for a job, 2 low wage unskilled migrants plus one rich property investor, migrating into NZ to take up jobs and houses.

        Makes a great Ponzi scheme for government figures though.

        But beneath those figures is a pretty scary short and long term scenario… of turning ourselves from a 2nd world country into a 3rd world country as fast as possible…

        • WILD KATIPO 4.1.1.1

          ” But beneath those figures is a pretty scary short and long term scenario… of turning ourselves from a 2nd world country into a 3rd world country as fast as possible…”

          The bankers and corporate’s have it all under control and will ensure we don’t reach true third world status, … the fact that we will all have to start living in mud huts and living off a bowl of rice a day for our pay shouldn’t mean we shouldn’t be praising our bankers and corporate’s as true hero’s.

          They are doing all that is humanly possible to create a society that is all equally as poor as the next guy and endorsing egalitarianism for the plebites whilst heroically shoring up their vast wealth and organizations against collapse.

          Superman would blush at the sheer superhuman examples provided by these dynamic and altruistic individuals and organizations.

        • Craig H 4.1.1.2

          If we want higher productivity, we need to invest in better and more machines/tools.

          Increasing wages, particularly minimum wage, drives investment in machines/tools and therefore greater productivity since the value equation for capital investment improves.

        • keepcalmcarryon 4.1.1.3

          Dont forget the migrant sky city staff. Remember the jobs being bought with Keys backroom deals -to be allowed more pokies -and the taxpayer being left with a tab for more problem gambling, so Auckland could get the conference centre and the more jobs?
          Turns out sky city jobs were for migrants to enable the wealthy corporate to exploit our problem gamblers. Kiwis ask too much.

          “SkyCity declined to comment, but an organiser with the Unite union, Joe Carolan, said it was one of the rare occasions where both employers and the workers held similar concerns.”
          “Julia Lui of the union-linked SkyCity Employees Association, said those who did not meet the new requirements would have a maximum of three years before they were kicked out, and it seemed very unfair.”
          Unite union needs a kick up the arse for advocating for foreign workers lowering kiwis wages.

      • Ed 4.1.2

        And the highest skilled taxi drivers.

    • gsays 4.2

      Re: skilled wait staff:
      there is a story on rnz about concerns mental health workers moving to aged care sector due to pay rise.

  5. Ad 5

    Labour could require all listed companies and all public entities (local gvoernment, Ministries, Universities, NZSuper, ACC, etc) to list the ratio of Chief Executive pay to that of their average employees’.

    Labour should also insist on listing by name all those earning over $200k in a listed or public entity. Both staff and Board members. It’s public money and they need to show I can trust them.

    There would be a bit of a stink, but we need to expose the .01% for what and who they are. Sure would help figure why so few can afford houses.

    I would like to see a whole bunch more scrutiny on whole-staff remuneration in reporting season by shareholders, and of the higher levels of the public sector.

    There is no meaningful link between the mediocre performance of New Zealand businesses over the past decade and the extraordinary rise in top pay. Too many in fact have just worked to sell us out to foreigners.

    Bosses today are not so much better at their jobs than bosses used to be, and yet their salaries go up leaps and bounds and the rest are left with the scraps.

    Sure, some businesses are bigger, but that just means there are more senior colleagues around them to share out the tasks. Spread the load, spread the wealth.

    I would like to see Labour actively restrain CEO pay, scrutinise the top class more strongly, and open up the public debate about justifying pay and reward …
    to …
    “The Many, Not The Few.” To quote Corbyn.

    • saveNZ 5.1

      @ AD, not sure that the .01% are on wages earning $200k s… you need to look more at the John Key’s of the world, earning $50 million plus to get into .01% territory.

      And that’s part of the problem of the left, they don’t even understand how globalism is working, they think rich people earn wages. Rich people are not on wages for a start. People are gambling 530 million at Sky City and guess what …. it’s not declared taxed income…. Key’s earning $50 million but guess what, I doubt he paid the top tax rate on it.

      There are so many loopholes and ways not to pay anything that nobody apart from super rich tax accountants know about.

      When Labour picks on those on $200k who are probably Doctors, paying top tax, student loans, GST etc… but actually due to their income get nothing back in terms of subsidised welfare, health, Accommodation supplement, WFF etc etc and just had to have zero income for 7 years while they studied.

      Seriously, you could probably NOT afford a nice house around central Auckland if you only earned $200k if you did not already have massive equity.

      The left need to have a look around and work out what ‘rich’ means these days because not many people could get rich on a high wage alone or even get to be middle class these days in Auckland, if that’s all they had to rely on.

      Labour slumped to 25% last election, and part of that is that they keep complaining about all these so called ‘rich’ wage earners and property speculators which is a national pastime judging from shows like ‘The Block’ for normal people to be able to afford to climb the property ladder and 1 in 10 jobs are in construction apparently.

      Have a look at the .01% earners and you are in different territory altogether. Things like transaction taxes is probably a smarter way to tax them.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 5.1.1

        Completely agree.

        Endless discussion about the lower 90%, and no discussion of the top 10% (and 0.1%), which is where the real problem mostly is. The filthy rich “don’t do” wages.

        • WILD KATIPO 5.1.1.1

          Off course the ‘ filthy rich’ do wages !!!

          They minimize their personal income and use a trust to hide the rest of their financial gains !!!

          That’s how Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild aka the Right Honourable Lord Rothchild does it.

          Clever , eh?… almost as clever as the fiat financial system he and others invented to keep us all in debt. Including all those greedy workers who don’t want to live in a mud hut anymore…

          • saveNZ 5.1.1.1.1

            That’s the point Wild Katipo, 1/2 the rich listers don’t pay the top tax rate. So it’s not that effective to keep putting it up – just encouraging others to join them in the plentiful ways to minimise income.

            But seriously the officials on $200k they are just the public lackeys, the real riches and assets stripping and ‘contract’ awards are the individuals both private and government doing the deals in Russia, UK, USA, NZ that are taking public assets and privatising them and agreeing government contracts, with huge profits while impoverishing the country and the people the assets was privatised from or contract awarded from.

            They have even got Trade agreements going, so that now ‘potential profits’ can be awarded from tax payers in their own private business courts… now that’s entitlement!!!

      • Ad 5.1.2

        Public entities are already required to list the number of those on $100,000 and over $200,000.

        It’s an actual reporting requirement that you can see in all of their Annual Reports.

        So really it’s not a big step to include listed companies as well.

        There’s all kinds of defenders of the rich the further up the tree you go, and you use the same excuse:

        We all pay our fair share of taxes, the real problem is further up the tree than me.

        No, it isn’t, and sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  6. Smilin 6

    He should be worried him John and Jim living like ticks on sheeps balls since 1974
    Really thats how long and how low our low wage economy has been in gear
    And Bill is the tick thats been there the longest

  7. mosa 7

    No party in government has addressed the problem of low pay in this country.

    Instead they implement government assistance like working for families as the last Labour government did under heavy criticism from John Key and others in the National party only to retain it in government and extend it for for political gain in September.

    Low pay has always been a problem pre 1984 and now is a fundamental cornerstone of the neo liberal system which needs to keep pay low in order to keep most people in debt or dependent on credit to make up the shortfall in a living wage.

    The destruction of the union movement and the move to individual contracts which Bolger and Birch promised would deliver higher pay because workers could negotiate their own contracts was an illusion as the contract was written by the employer and the pay set and if you wanted or needed the job you signed with no chance of having an input into the deal you were signing or spotting the fish hooks and loss of penal rates and other conditions.

    Now you have people like Paula Bennett who think that tipping is the answer to supplement poor pay in the service industry, this coming from the woman who had everything paid for her through the social welfare system.

    http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2017/05/29/tips-from-paula-bennett-on-how-to-be-a-hypocrite/

    Key the greatest bullshitter of all time is quoted in this link of the need to improve poor pay on many occasions to who ever was foolish to believe he meant it.

  8. mosa 8

    At least the Aussies still value their working class heritage by never allowing their government to put the boot in when it comes to the protections they still enjoy with a strong union movement.

    They only have to look across the Tasman to see what happens when you allow your rights and protections to disappear without a fight so we can be more productive to work longer for less.

    I give the Australians credit for that.

    • Nic the NZer 8.1

      The official policy of using unemployment to target low inflation (via low wage inflation) must surely be a big contributing factor here. Its not highlighted but the government doesn’t presently want unemployment to fall below 5% or the estimate of the NAIRU rate. If that happens it is assumed to trigger acceleration of the inflation rate. If the media want to take an interest in low wages they should be asking why we use unemployment as a policy tool as this surely causes low wages.

      Labour needs to do better than just ignoring this in their policy platform. They need to raise the use of unemployment as policy tool and say they will start to target full employment as official policy again.

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