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Failing on jobs? Attack the workers

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 am, October 31st, 2012 - 62 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

National are economic failures. Unemployment is up two thirds under their watch (from 97,000 to 162,000) and still rising. Household incomes are falling behind inflation. Manufacturing firms are closing up and making workers redundant. People are fleeing to Aussie in record numbers looking for jobs and decent wages So, what’s Key’s solution? Drive down wages by attacking workers’ right to organise.

At least they had the decency to be a bit shame-faced about it. Key didn’t talk about it at the post-Cabinet press conference on Monday, even though Cabint voted on it that day. And, when the press release did come out, it hid the far-reaching changes at the bottom of the release below the changes to Part 6A. It seems even National releases that they’re economic failures and that there’s no justification for taking their failure out on working New Zealanders.

Why would National try to attack workers’ unions? Because unions equal higher wages and that means less of the production surplus goes to National’s mates in the boss class:

(this graph is a couple of years old, I’ll try to get old Marty to make us an updated one)

62 comments on “Failing on jobs? Attack the workers”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Note carefully how all the attention is shifted onto the Section 6a change. While this will badly affect a specific group of workers, it is the change which allows employers to walk away from settling collectives in good faith bargaining which is the big nasty one.

    Basically what it will mean is that once all the existing collective agreements expire, employers can more or less do anything they please.

    • bbfloyd 1.1

      Shades of the “hobbit” law…… That one that only affected “film industry” workers….Yeah right!!

    • aerobubble 1.2

      Well I blame Labour. In a TV interview recently a Labour front bench MP was asked about welfare, that welfare should go to those in need, but with the additional caveat, and not those who can work.
      That addition turns a progressive middle of the spectrum policy, welfare, into National Socialism.
      That addition is very disturbing, for a number of reasons.
      a.) a slave society would articulate the notion that all must work,
      b.) our society does not value similar work done in the
      home and done at work (cleaning, reading to the kids, etc),
      so welfare is choosing winners – business at the expense of citizens.
      c.) and then there is the artist, who speculative
      imagination produces words on paper, paint on canvas, or
      even a new internet idea, all unpaid work until someone willing pays for it,
      We are compounding the neo-liberals myths, Labour are, when we pander to the
      notion that businesses and unpaid self-expression (work) are seperate.

      Whereas the Greens believe that business can make more money, be more profitable, more resilient, more stable investment by working to better the environment and maintain the environment.

      Labour still hasn’t understood and come to terms with its neo-liberalist past, but worse is flagging National its okay to continue raising workers right to the ground. National are continuing the class
      war, and Labour are trying to stay out of it and so reap support from neo-liberal backers.

    • Jenny 1.3

      Basically what it will mean is that once all the existing collective agreements expire, employers can more or less do anything they please.


      Yes, while workers will still be tied by all the anti strike law retained in the current legislation.

  2. One Tāne Huna 2

    This will not only drive down wages, but in doing so will further depress the economy. How stupid do you have to be to get a seat on National’s front bench?

    • RedLogix 2.1

      No they are not stupid. They know exactly what they are doing … and why.

      • One Tāne Huna 2.1.1

        I question that. If low intelligence is a gateway to right wing political beliefs, as scientists assure us it is, there is every possibility that they simply haven’t got the capacity to see the damage they are doing.

        This will not benefit their clients in the long term.

        • RedLogix

          These are not stupid people OTH. They all have perfectly normal IQ’s and run large complex Ministries. The idea that Steven Joyce is stupid is utter nonsense.

          Face it … they treat us ordinary people with utter contempt. They loath us, they are better than us and they will ensure that the wealth and privilege that separates them from us remains firmly entrenched.

          And they will bend all their considerable talent and wits to achieve this end.

          • One Tāne Huna

            And the backbench MPs who enable them?

            • Lanthanide

              Grabbing the crumbs that fall off the table.

              Seriously, 3-6 years as a backbench MP on that salary will set you up very nicely for retirement if you invest it sensibly – especially with National’s tax cuts.

            • Colonial Viper

              The machine needs its patsys, its appratchiks and its minions. Whatever brains these guys at the top lack, they rent in from consulting companies and other intellectual mercernaries.

              And to (mis)quote McAvoy: if the Left really is so goddam smart, why does it keep losing all the goddam time.

              • RedLogix

                By consistently projecting our own values onto the enemy. Thereby underestimating them.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sun Tzu has proven consistently correct.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Thankfully, I stopped doing so a while back. You cannot compromise with the RWNJs because as soon as you do they’ll just take another leap to the right and expect to compromise again. It’s called being led by the nose and it’s what the RWNJs have been doing to the Left for decades now and it’s time we stopped it.

                  • vto

                    Yep, and it is also done every time they call for “balance”. For example, the Rakaia River National Park (Water Conservation Order doesn’t sound as important) was put in place some decades ago to achieve “balance” between the environment and farming greed. Now, guess what? They claim the National Park status needs reviewing for “balance” between the environment and farming greed.

                    Whenever you hear the call for balance shout it down – it is a bullshit call.

        • Uturn

          Always a bit puzzled by the expected Nat/Business relationship. The Nats are protected from their decisions, businesses aren’t. Nat policy is based on the premise of an endless labour pool, with high unemployment and zero deference to strategic planning. NZ simply doesn’t have and can’t build the population or conditions fast enough, to support this kind of European end game. They can’t house the people they have in Christchurch and don’t know how to stop their labour pool from starving or getting sick. Nats are leading their so-called friends down a short blind alley.

          I don’t want to stick up for employers in general, but my experience is that while they may periodically be a lot of things as a type that I don’t like, not many are into comitting financial suicide or voluntarily increasing reputational risk.

          (Exceptions to this rule would include POAL, possibly Talleys, but those situations are ideological political battlegrounds, not a standard 20 employees or less electronics company in a local inland Industrial Estate.)

          Nat policy changes might constitute a “nice to have” range of options, from a stereotypical employers point of view, but since the result of using them would be conterproductive much sooner rather than later, they wouldn’t encourage all employers to do whatever they wanted all the time and expect no consequences. This doesn’t make them good or acceptable laws, of course.

          If your company, through hiring process or specialised management, became populated by surly malicious employees, would you cut all ties with this group and risk unexpected damaging behaviour, or maintain careful dialogue to support some element of stability? The Nats, through whatever mental feature they posess, seem to believe all employees are evil deadweight and that employers only ever want to cut costs, up to and past the point of having no one to do the work. I’ve seen no evidence in my life to think that employers – real employers, not politicians who employ – think like that.

          Real employers will not support a government that creates an environment where it is unprofitable to do business. They understand that cutting costs isn’t the Be All of business management. They’ll go along with whatever they can get away with, for as long as it makes money – they’re businessmen, what more would you expect – but as soon as things get difficult, they’ll switch. Money, not ideology, not even loyality to an economic system.

          Whether you sit Right or Left, employers are real people too… some of them. They are outnumbered by employees many times and that may well explain the bizarre illegal threats and seige mentality their industry associations like to publish on their behalf. It might even be reflected in some of the self-defeating policy governments often develop in their support. Looks like our economic system is hostile even to our overlords!

          So if employers are people with feelings and ideas of what they want and think of themselves as, and if they react irrationally to percieved threats just like other people do, doesn’t that mean that they think of themselves as more-or-less, good, rational people? Then every time the Nats adjust our laws to paint the picture that every employer is a pathological maniac, with no business sense, self preservation or strategic ability to get what they want, loyal to a cause that makes their goals difficult, don’t they insult the intelligence of and isolate themselves from their support?

          The Nats are just waiting for a coup de grâce. The challenge of governing will soon fall to another Party.

        • Draco T Bastard

          IMO, there’s two types of RWNJ. The people who are too stupid to know better (Gosman, King Kong etc) and their leaders. The leaders are very intelligent and know exactly what they’re doing.

          That said, I don’t think that this government actually has any of the RWNJs leaders in it except possibly Key and he seems to be more of a Yes Man than a leader as well.

      • One Tāne Huna 2.1.2

        OK, I did my best. They really are simply a pack of bastards.

        • Olwyn

          It is easy to mistake mediocrity of spirit for a lack of intelligence because it involves a certain blindness toward others. But while such people are blind to the suffering they cause, they are very clear-eyed about who can help or harm them.

        • Dv

          Google Translate says
          Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain

        • tracey

          +1 if you add self-interested

    • Craig Glen Eden 2.2

      National have no interest in the man/woman in the street and their standard of living. The only people they give a shit about is the people who will pay them so they can have more. Paula Bennett as a classic example she would trample over anyone as long as she can still feed at the tough.

  3. tinfoilhat 3

    [Deleted. Too far … RL]

    • One Tāne Huna 3.1

      It’s a common sentiment, though, RL: you yourself argue that “they treat us ordinary people with utter contempt. They loath us, they are better than us and they will ensure that the wealth and privilege that separates them from us remains firmly entrenched.”

      It is hard to see how that differs in any material way from violence and theft: a treacherous assault indeed.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        That is it’s effect. Olwyn above nails it … a mediocrity of spirit is the root cause.

        • One Tāne Huna

          Epidemiologists (yes, them again) would say that this mediocrity can be driven by inequality, which breeds contempt for those lower down the ladder, and resentment of those higher up.

          • RedLogix

            True, and it’s also the reason why I can’t quite bring myself to be an atheist.

            • Rodel

              “We are all atheists for most of the gods that humans have created.Some of us just go go one god further ” (Richard Dawkins).

  4. Darien Fenton 4

    @RedLogix : the changes to collective bargaining were exposed way back in May this year and they are awful. The announcements yesterday on these are the same as we already knew. Part 6A was the new piece. And it’s disgusting. It picks on the poor again. Labour wanted to build on its provisions; National has all but gutted them.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      I predicted last year that if MUNZ won ( or a least stalemated) the POAL affair that the government would simply re-write industrial law in order to ensure the company would win a second round.

      Is this how you see it?

      • Darien Fenton 4.1.1

        Yes; the change to collective bargaining and the duty to conclude with have a huge impact on the PoAl workers. Let’s face it; they hate workers and unions even more.

        • RedLogix

          I appreciate the confirmation.

          It’s always a little tricky for public figures, especially political ones, to engage with the blogging world … so thanks.

          Next question. In the six month since the policy was announced has Labour used that time to formulate a coherent plan in response? (Details not needed.)

      • tracey 4.1.2

        The anti union folks wont care but there are a bunch of folks out there not in unions who don’t understand how unions can help them (POA saga was an example) or how a government with a single stroke of a pen can wipe out even the opportunity.

        Opposition parties need to point out Hobbitt, POAL, etc (if we dont like it we change the law) … who’s next?

        Certainly not the property developers who will line up to buy opened up land, willopen a company, develop the land, take their big profit and promptly fold the company before moving to a new project. Any problems arising fromt he development won’t be paid for by them….

        Still let’s take the care workers to the High Court and Court of Appeal…

    • MikeD 4.2

      Darien I can’t help feeling you’ve let the Nats off the hook a bit by letting them keep the focus on the vulnerable workers stuff and framing the much larger ERA reforms as minor ‘technical changes’. There’s a reason the really big stuff was buried down the bottom of the press release, as the post points out.

      • bbfloyd 4.2.1

        Mike… Exactly how would you suggest stopping the minister from saying what they like while announcing policy?

        I will asume you are just a bit distracted, otherwise you risk being taken for a “spoiler”….

        • MikeD

          The Minister will try to hide what they’re doing, that’s the nature of the game. It’s up the opposition spokesperson to make sure the real issues are out in the open and counter the spin. You know, holding the minister to account and all that. Darien’s done great work on 6A, and I imagine without much support from the leader’s office, but the fact is the government wanted to bury the wider ERA changes and they’ve largely succeeded because Labour (and the Greens too, actually) just went with the government’s framing without looking at the bigger picture. Wilkinson will be very happy with yesterday’s coverage.

          • bbfloyd

            far too much assumption in there to be any more than just your personal opinion…. if you are using the msm as your yardstick, then you are being misled….. And of course little willie warmer would have been happy with the coverage….. that’s what her bosses pay for…..

  5. vto 5

    time for a general strike

    • Chris 5.1

      I think that would be the only thing they would take notice of. They are very dismissive of any strikes/protests that don’t generate a large amount of people.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5.2

      Like you have a job.

    • Colonial Viper 5.3

      Also time for all the country’s ports to be amalgamated as a whole, with the different councils owning a shareholding of the corporate whole.

  6. ak 6

    Yes, well if benny-bash, Maori-bash and teacher-bash still leaves you behind Lab/Green in the polls, good old union-bash is the logical next step. Bottom of the barrel for the jiggery po-Key lads.

    Stiff upper lip chaps. Only infighting can stymie progression.

  7. Richard Christie 7

    So, what’s Key’s solution?

    I know you meant response, not solution.

  8. Darien Fenton 8

    The announcement on employment law changes was made in May after I obtained a cabinet paper. I did huge media work then and have kept talking about it ever since. Part 6a announcement is new and that’s what the media was interested in. Had to do a lot of work to even get them to be interested! The governments not off the hook. This has only just begun. There’s not even any legislation out yet. I will blog to remind ppl later today.

    • Jim Nald 8.1

      Good to have heard you, Darien, on radio this morning. It would be heartening to see you take the fight to this reprehensible government.

      Good to see you, a Labour MP, reading The Standard. On other webpages here, you would have seen and read concerns about Labour’s current leadership, and your reply to these would be appreciated:

      1. Where do you stand in relation to the current Labour leadership team?
      2. Considering Shearer, Robertson, Parker and Cunliffe – who do you think makes and will have a bigger impact in dealing to John Key’s and Natz rubbish and nonsense? Why?
      3. You are presently a ‘list’ MP, based in Auckland – how will you vote in caucus next when the issue of leadership comes up? How will you prepare for, and decide on, ensuring such a vote reflects the wider party membership?

      Will be good to see you coming back to The Standard, reading, commenting and responding.

      **I am happy for The Standard to release my email address to you so as to continue communication on the above and more. But, please, do also respond publicly.**

  9. Darien Fenton 9

    @ Jim Nald : thank you. No Labour MP will talk on caucus issues publicly and that includes me. I am focussed on doing the best I can to protect the people I came to parliament to represent and working as part of the Labour team to do that. Regards

    • gobsmacked 9.1

      Fair enough, Darien. (can’t blame Jim for trying, good on him!).

      You can’t comment publicly, but we can. You are in a workplace with 34 “union members”, and you need to pick the best union rep. But you haven’t.

      Workers need to organise, unite and take action. This includes you guys. Please do it.

  10. Lez Howard 10

    Im still waiting for Bolgers trickle down affect

    • bbfloyd 10.1

      You got that years ago Lez….. That was that momentary “warm” feeling you got in 1994…. It’s gone dry now though, so there’s no evidence that it happened, apart from the faint ammonia smell…..

  11. tracey 11

    Remember the 90 day trial? It was just for small businesses tohelp them through the recession. It now applies to all workplaces. So will this in time.

    Wilkinson struggled to sound credible on checkpoint last night when her own example was thrown back at her. I wish the checkpoint woman (mary??) wa son morning report and could interview oppositiona nd government MPs.

    • Fisiani 11.1

      Remember the proposed roll of shame of terrible bosses sacking everyone on the 89th day.
      There is no roll of shame.
      Same hysteria here. The sky is not falling in and NZ is now in better shape for growth than ANY other OECD country

  12. When the National government leaves office, there is going to a hell of a lot of work to do restoring the integrity of the Education system. A great place to start would be to make student loans easier to get and pay off, especially for medical graduates and IT professionals. Depending on how the numbers go next election, is possible (considering both United Future and the Greens support Free Education) that we will make steps towards Free Education; which would gradually put [us] on the same level as Scandinavian nations (in terms of the quality of Education).

  13. Shaz 13

    Who is the old grandee who will do for NZ what Michael Heseltime is doing in the UK. A soon to be released report critiques the ranks of the visionless axe-wielding right and shows the whole shower up for their lack of plan, vision and basic economic sense.

    any takers?

  14. Some information please. Key’s quote that he wanted unemployment and English’s quote regarding the benefits of having unemployment . I have lost both and need them please fellow members.

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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