Future of Work Conference

Written By: - Date published: 3:05 pm, March 23rd, 2016 - 68 comments
Categories: economy, jobs, labour, leadership - Tags: , ,

Labour’s Future of Work Conference is under way. There is a page with information and live stream here.

The PSA has a great interview with Grant Robertson on the Future of Work:

Why did Labour make this such a big project?

We can see the massive impact that changing technology and patterns of work are having on working people and if we want to be a government of the future we have to prepare ourselves. We’ve got a study that says 46% of the jobs right now in NZ won’t be there in 15-20 years. Every single working person knows their experience of work has changed at a rapid pace and there is a real risk of high levels of unemployment and growing inequality. Also, the Labour Party is the party of workers, and if the nature and experience of work is changing we need to be there looking at that change. We need to make sure people can take advantage of opportunities, and mitigate the negative impacts. …

Another interview with Robertson has video here.

Looking to the future – planning to adapt and protect people – this is work a government should be doing. In this case, a government in waiting…

68 comments on “Future of Work Conference”

  1. r0b 1

    At time of posting nothing on the live stream because the conference is on tea break.

  2. Rosie 2

    Is that THE Robert Reich, as the keynote speaker? The two day programme looks very interesting.

    Where is it being held and is it an invites only conference? The first I heard about this was last night on newshrub. It’s something I thought/hoped members might have been able to go along to.

  3. saveNZ 3

    Hopefully Labour will look at the bigger worldwide picture..

    “Snapshot of a broken system: How a profitable company justifies laying off 1,400 people & moved their jobs to Mexico”

    “But in practice, shareholder value has created a race to the bottom. America’s workers cannot compete in an environment where forcing concessions upon them is the entire rationale for their employer’s existence. Politics cannot thrive when shareholder pressure leads corporations to seek whatever advantages they can get, on environmental or safety or public health or tax rules.”

    http://www.salon.com/2016/03/22/snapshot_of_a_broken_system_how_a_profitable_company_justifies_laying_off_1400_people_moved_their_jobs_to_mexico/

    • Chris 3.1

      “Hopefully Labour will look at the bigger worldwide picture..”

      Unfortunately Labour does not have the capacity for that to happen.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        When it becomes the government capacity is a matter of priorities.

      • AmaKiwi 3.1.2

        Chris, I disagree.

        If Labour wants to win an election they need to look at the SMALLER picture. What are the people in the street saying. What I hear them saying is, “My work sucks. I am going nowhere.”

  4. Chris 4

    Guy Standing’s on fire. Such a pity Labour won’t have a bar of what he’s saying.

    • Michael 4.1

      So true. Standing even observed Grant Robertson fleeing the room after he said any progressive political party worth the name would scrap our welfare system. After Standing finished, Jacinda Ardern jumped up to say questions were forbidden because it was time for a session, chaired by Clare Curran (Fearless Fighter from the South), on “How Businesses Make Opportunities from Flexibility” (or some such bollocks) featuring Hawkins Group (sponsoring Labour’s jamboree).

  5. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5

    Looking to the future – planning to adapt and protect people – this is work a government should be doing.

    That’s the problem. It’s just what the government should not be doing. Because, if it did, it would come up with bullshit ideas like:

    Developing Business Clusters – by creating regional partnerships of business, councils, research organisations and iwi to get the best out of local and emerging industries.

    Just like Sovereign Yachts. Or giving the film industry tax breaks and favourable employment law treatment. It cannot be anything other than a waste of money giving favoured treatment to the government’s mates.

    Accelerating technology in business – through developing new models of capital raising and investing in research and development.

    Why favour this sector beyond what the market considers presently justified? What new models of capital raising that do not exist now?

    Building wealth from the ground up – by encouraging new models of business, including entrepreneurship and cooperatives to create a more sustainable economy.

    How will we encourage entrepreneurship? What new models? Why does the private or public company or limited partnership not give you what you need?

    Reforming the transition between education, training and work – through comprehensive reform of career guidance and creating a school leavers’ toolkit to prepare them for the practical requirements of work.

    Career guidance? Really? Don’t we already have that?

    Partnering with Maori in a post-Treaty settlement era – through the Government facilitating strategic partnerships between iwi, business, and third parties to develop the Maori economy.

    Patronising, paternalistic bullshit.

    Establishing a Pasifika working futures plan – by working with the community to focus on the transition between education and work and identifying and eliminating the barriers to entrepreneurship.

    Ditto.

    • Ad 5.1

      Both Natonal and Labour are interventionist.

      It’ll be up to you to vote for one kind of intervention setting or the other.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrel 5.1.1

        Sad but true. It’s the fostering of this sort of environment that leads to the Saudi sheep deal. Expect more if Labour’s plan to shape the economy gets any traction.

        • Ad 5.1.1.1

          So what you get with Key is unpriced, high-risk, commoditised, constitutionally costly, low wage initiatives like Sky City Convention Centre. With no policy framework to make rational choices.

          With Labour you’ll get risks, sure, but they’ll be risks to high wage, high skill industries. Not even superyachts are gfc-proof. But it was worth it.

          • Colin Espiner 5.1.1.1.1

            Sorry Ad, but can you explain how the New Zealand International Convention Centre is either high-risk, commoditised, unpriced, constitutionally costly or low wage?

            It’s certainly not unpriced; there is a definite price to built it of approximately $453 million.

            It is extremely low-risk for the Crown – basically zero risk, since all the risk is being borne by SKYCITY.

            The NZICC is hardly a single commodity; the whole point is that it brings money into the country in a variety of ways through delegate spend, tourism, airfares, etc.

            The NZICC is at zero cost to the Crown.

            As for being ‘low wage’, construction workers are some of the highest paid manual jobs in the country. Once the convention centre is built, it’ll employ a huge range of staff, from theatre technicians to IT professionals, from marketing managers to sales people, from event planners to bar managers, baristas, chefs, and so on. Hardly low wage.

            Perhaps choose another example?

            • Ad 5.1.1.1.1.1

              You are thinking about its cost to the government.

              I was thinking about its cost to society and to our economy. Gambling is high risk, low return, commoditised, and low wage. The way Key clearly traded the sovereignty of Parliament to one company for gambling concessions was totally unconstitutional. You can argue the last one if you like, but no other Prime Minister since Vogel has got close to direct corruption like that.

              With regard to being low wage, let’s go through that. The jobs that last more than a couple of years once construction is finished are service industry jobs. If you aspire for New Zealand to reach the level of wages of the service industry, I’d suggest your aspiration is a little low. Just ask those baristas, waitresses, cleaners, admin staff, etc.

              I want government intervention in the economy, but it has to have open eyes to the risks, aspire to high R&D and high salaries, support what we do well, and upskill us more than how to make one more flat white.

    • Refelusion 5.2

      + 100

      • Jenny Kirk 5.2.1

        Well, Ad – you certainly answered Colin Espiner’s question ! @ 5.1.1. Good stuff. How weird that a supposedly intelligent person like CE could be so one-eyed about a big gambling centre.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3

      Why does the private or public company or limited partnership not give you what you need?

      Because it’s fucken useless at doing pretty much anything except making a few bludgers rich from other peoples work.

  6. Ad 6

    I would rather see a conference on future employment trends, not unemployment trends.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Well, that does seem to be the problem. As things are now we’re going to have a lot more unemployed – unless the government (us) does something about it collectively.

  7. Chris 7

    Richard Wagstaff spewed out the same old reformist bullshit that the conference was supposed to be about challenging. After hearing Guy Standing speak it’s clear Labour and the unions have got a long way to go before any real change can happen. Heck, if these two groups don’t get it what hope do we have?

  8. Bill 8

    There is no ‘future of work’ – at least not as we currently define, ie – in terms of jobs within a market economy. And that’s because there will be no market economy. It (the market economy) is utterly dependent on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are driving climate change. Climate change is going to utterly decimate the physical structures and capacities of the market economy (roads, rail networks, energy distribution systems, water systems etc) and there is no time available to lay in the necessary levels of non-fossil energy sources before it hits.

    Besides swathes of infrastructure being laid to waste, the natural environment will be increasingly too hostile to produce in (variously too hot, too dry, too wet, too windy etc) or, in the case of seaborne transport, too hostile to move goods over (maximum ocean wave heights too high, too often for any container ship to safely traverse).

    See the future of work? See my arse.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrel 8.1

      Just as well we don’t have Bill directing this project.

      • Bill 8.1.1

        Scientific knowledge allied with scientific observation and extrapolation + simple arithmetic.

        CO2 from fossil is increasing warming. It’s cumulative in its effect. In the time it would take to lay in fossil free energy supplies, the world would be well beyond what science is terming ‘dangerous climate change’ – ie, +2 degrees C. The temperature is increasing because of CO2 emissions – which are increasing because of economic activity.

        Climate change is much, much more extreme weather parameters. Our infrastructure isn’t built to withstand many of those extremes. Agriculture is based on natural organisms that evolved for and in the climate of the Holocene. The topography of much of the land is absolutely shaped by weather associated with the climatic norms we’re presently leaving behind. Ocean waves are a result of weather systems.

        What can’t you understand about any of that? Is it too hard for you?

        Know what I think? I think you’re like too many other abject cowards desperately clutching at distractions that will allow you to believe in a tomorrow not too dissimilar to today.

        Nothing – and I do mean nothing – in the real world lends so much as a skerrick of validity to that notion – a notion as intelligent as a child closing their eyes so they won’t be seen.

        (disclaimer: I don’t actually think children are that stupid…only adults.)

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1

          +1

        • slade 8.1.1.2

          How can you be so amazingly smart yet still need a loan off Winz to buy your own glasses.

          [r0b: Clearing this comment from moderation, I note that we are all of just one piece of bad luck / health away from needing the support of our community to live.]

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.2.1

            @r0b

            I note that we are all of just one piece of bad luck / health away from needing the support of our community to live.

            We always need the support of our community. The problem is that we’ve come to believe that we don’t.

          • Bill 8.1.1.2.2

            heh- amazingly smart you say? I’ll take that. About the implication that only thick people can be unemployed, well…apparently they can be in employment too, and even comment on blogs.

    • Refelusion 8.2

      Yes Bill

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrel 8.3

      So Bill and I think the same thing about the future of work.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.4

      It (the market economy) is utterly dependent on fossil fuels.

      That’s just simply wrong. Sure, the present capitalist paradigm is dependent upon fossil fuels but markets did exist for thousands of years before we started using fossil fuels.

      And, no, I’m not a supporter of markets.

      • Bill 8.4.1

        Economies have been around ‘since forever’. Trading has been around ‘since forever’.

        The specific rules governing trade – the ‘book of rules’ that we call the market economy – have not been around very long at all.

        Maybe you’re confusing a market economy with the idea of markets where people come and go to buy, sell or otherwise trade. A market economy isn’t some up-scaling of (say) a village market place. Apart from sharing the word ‘market’, the two things are utterly and completely different.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.4.1.1

          Actually, I’m talking about an economic system thousands of years old that spanned the Mediterranean.

    • Colonial Viper 8.5

      There is no ‘future of work’ – at least not as we currently define, ie – in terms of jobs within a market economy. And that’s because there will be no market economy.

      BINGO.

      And where does that change leave a party named “Labour”.

      • Bill 8.5.1

        It isn’t just ‘a party named Labour’ that’s going to be beachcast CV. It’s all parliamentary political parties everywhere in the western world at the moment. And all of the people who are determined to keep on with trying to get a better job a better career, a house, a bit of retirement savings; all of those people who see their personal future as a continuation of what they do, dream and hope for today.

        The time scale of this ‘Future of Work’ (20 to 30 years) is the same time scale now being mooted for very noticeable climatic effects by scientists studying climate change. Sidelining ourselves via automation at the same time as weather events are knocking our infrastructures for six? I don’t think so. That prospect will seem like the projection of a hopelessly optimistic nirvana if people are able to look back on it in 30 years time or so.

  9. AmaKiwi 9

    ” Paying all adult New Zealanders a “universal basic income” is a “barking mad” idea that would cost more than the country brings in from tax, Prime Minister John Key says.”

    No. “Barking mad” is letting the public think such a radical idea is official Labour party policy.

    Much as I wish it were not so, I have come to accept that the Labour caucus will destroy the party.

    RIP

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Yep. My friends and I quietly suspected this approx 2 years ago. Today it is clear as daylight.

  10. Venezia 10

    Will Guy Standing’s presentation be available online or in print? Does anyone know? Am reading his book – compelling arguments for basic universal income.

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    Professor Robert B Reich: Keynote Address to the Future of Work conference

  12. Colonial Viper 12

    I have a brilliant idea. How about making a UBI “more affordable” by cutting back on Super. Well, admittedly this is really Gareth Morgan’s idea.

  13. Observer (Tokoroa) 13

    TO: Anthony Robins

    Hi Anthony, It puzzles me that an important conference on the future of Employment is given over on this blog to so many clearly confused Trolls.

    Why does The Standard Org not set a few standards to underpin worthwhile discussion here? It has to be said, by letting the confused and the destructive personalities degrade and even demolish good debate, the blog is the exact opposite of what the Standard Org stands for.

    I understand that most of the commentors here want the Labour Party to be burnt at the stake. But that is because they think Wealthy Capitalists created democracy aided and abetted by despots.

    In fact, without the Labour movement of united Workers there would not have been Democracy. Just continued slavery managed by the extremely wealthy “Nobles”, Capitalists, and Dictators.

    (it helps if you realise that Democracy effectively began to float as recently as the year 1840, although the stirrings began decades before that date).

    We are slumping back into pre-democratic times (times when you owned no jobs, no housing; appalling slum rental existence; no education; and very reduced health and longevity).

    We do not have the feel or the respect for Democracy that our wonderful Ancestors treasured. You and your children will be slaves (the weakest of all animals), if you flush Democracy down the Capitalist drain.

    It is a crying shame to see The Standard promote the shambles through lack of minimal standards.

    Bernard Hobbs Tokoroa (Easter 2016)

    • miravox 13.1

      You know something Bernard? I thought similar, so thanks for this comment.

      In my head I was comparing this Labour Future of Work conference outline to a similar conference in Brussels last year by the social democrats in the EU (I went because it was 1. free, 2. Thomas Picketty was keynote speaker, 3. I was in the vicinity). I was going to say how focused the NZ Labour conference seemed in comparison, but from the tone of the comments, I couldn’t be arsed with putting up with the negativity permeating from this post.

      So anyway – Well done Labour, it looks like a tightly-focussed, constructive conference, rather than a talkfest. and great keynote speakers, would love to have been there and I look forward to seeing the proceedings when they are available.

      • Heather Grimwood 13.1.1

        Heartily agree Miravox…….absolutely stimulating speakers….a privilege to partake from afar…thank you TS!

      • weka 13.1.2

        I also noted the downer that many people were taking with this and thought wtf?. Labour are doing something good here, and yes it’s not as radical as many of us think should happen, but for mainstream politics in NZ The Future of Work in initiative is a very good thing. It’s also an opportunity for some lefties to step up and take part in the debate in a constructive way. Labour aren’t saying This Is The Way, they’re opening up a range of topics for discussion. If our response is ‘there’s something wrong with you’, how do we think that is going to work out?

        For my own part, I spent most of yesterday running interference on a troll who was telling lies about Labour as a way of monkey wrenching the UBI debate. When that started I was in the middle of writing a draft post on climate change. I chose to stop doing that and instead do the work to demonstrate that the troll was lying. That was my choice, but it’s a damn shame that it was necessary. I could see that there was going to be left wing criticism of Labour alongside RW trollery and that if those things were going to dominate the conversation we’d be screwed and may as well give up and go home.

        I too think that it would be better for the standard to have tighter control over the standard of debate here, but afaik even if the policy was changed there is still the issue of not having enough moderators. The only way that is going to change is for more people to step up and become authors.

        • miravox 13.1.2.1

          Hi weka, yeah i saw you were running interference there. It was such a relief to see that.

          “It’s also an opportunity for some lefties to step up and take part in the debate in a constructive way”
          ^^ this. Yes.

          It’s fine having discussion, including criticism as discussions must, about the future of work. It’s the ‘Labour sucks’ vibe rather than discussing what the post is about that is so soul-destroying. When a positive event like this is happening I wonder how the authors, nevermind the party, deals with it.

          I would have got involved but I feel somewhat embarrassed to keep mouthing off on how things are different where I live, given that I’d already done that on another thread, and also because I’m not being totally in touch with how things are being presented in NZ. (My comments would have been comparative – and along the lines of take a bow Labour, from what I can see). But the discussion of the topic here was not at a level where I could get a feel of how the discussions at the conference were going.

          I guess how broadly The standard policy is interpreted, rather than a change in policy is the issue – surely the moderators can tell people to stick to the topic, rather than criticising the messenger? (well aware I’m off topic here ;-)) But yeah – moderator workload…

          • weka 13.1.2.1.1

            I think comparative comments from other places in the world would be great!

            Labour take a bow, exactly. How can we expect to have an progression left if we bash them every time they take a step in the right direction? And if regulars here are being put off, what is happening the the far greater number of readers?

            TC put up the vid of Guy Standing’s speech and I thought how come Labour don’t have processes for getting such a thing out to social media including the standard? Followed closely by the thought that why on earth woudl Labour want to engage with this place? I’m not talking about posts that are critical of Labour (Labour just has to deal with that), I’m talking about the culture of the place, which at the moment is just far too negative for most people who are trying to proactively change the world.

            • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 13.1.2.1.1.1

              I agree completely. The focus needs to be on silencing all dissenting opinion. Tighter moderation is obviously essential but, to reach nirvana, gulags will be required.

              • Bill

                Surely those would be galugs given projected rises in sea level? 😉

              • Hanswurst

                Silencing dissenting opinion would involve this blog’s a) having a party line, and b) removing from anyone who doesn’t follow that line all access to fora in which to express their views. What is being discussed here is entirely unrelated to that, and simply involves the removal from this one blog of dickish comments made by dicks.

              • adam

                Just wondering if The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell just did a godwin. I know godwin rabbits on about hitler, but stalin, hitler same cloth me thinks.

              • miravox

                No-one is talking about silencing any dissenting opinion.

                But you know that.

    • Incognito 13.2

      I may sound flippant but in all seriousness a debate/discussion with negative under- and overtones is better than none at all.

      Like Climate Change the change of work is inevitable, in fact change is inevitable full stop. Nay-sayers and other people with antagonistic and counter-productive if not destructive agendas cannot stop this.

      I think what frustrates many people is the apparent lack of traction.

    • Bill 13.3

      Dear ‘Observor’

      Although you are entitled to regard the conference as important, it sure as fuck ain’t sacrosanct. If people have criticisms of any proposals being made by speakers at the conference, then they have the space here to air them. Likewise is people feel they want to expand on a talking point of the conference.

      Seems your problem is more to do with some people (myself included) pointing out that the Emperor has no Clothes. That’s not a criticism aimed at Labour so much as a criticism of whole notion of a future where work as we define it is even possible.

      I’ve laid out the reasoning behind my thought. You can ignore or engage as is your wont.

      Regardless, and as an aside, can I suggest you do some homework on democracy and what it is and isn’t? You appear a tad deluded on that front. (Hint: parliamentary representation is an clear expression of a democratic deficit.)

      • Observer (Tokoroa) 13.3.1

        Hi Bill

        Thanks for your words. I do not deny people the right to disagree with my or someone elses point of view.

        But I feel everyone should put balanced thought (as distinct from raw emotion) into their words. They must present a logical point of view.

        I have acknowledged that this Blog exists for the destruction of the Labour Party and therefore the destruction of the Common Man.

        I believe The Common Man is best served by Social Democrat policies. But if anyone can improve on that I will seriously consider their point of view.

        I think the ability to own a house; to be educated; to be be given access to health; and to be kept in employment – is the right of every purposeful person on the planet.

        I am not ashamed of my view no matter who or how many rubbish me.

        I have never upbraided you Bill. I wish you well.

        Regards

        • Michael 13.3.1.1

          What absolute bollocks. Criticism of a political organisation does not equate to fervent wish for its destruction. I’d like to see the Labour Party honour its founding principles by applying them to the circumstances that actually exist in 2016 (and in the forseeable future). To wit: massive structural unemployment and resulting mass impoverishment, accompanied by gluttonous consumer capitalism by the elite. In that light, the Future of Work conference was a positive move. The keynote speakers were great value; I particularly liked the way that neither of them bothered to schmooze their hosts and gave us all their honest opinions (live streaming the proceedings was another great idea, as was saving the presentations for us to rewatch). Unfortunately, the conference depended far too much on corporate sponsors and self-serving elite participants. For instance, there was no voice for the unemployed, the sick or the disabled. Unforgivable for the NZ Labour Party. Worst of all was the ban on question and answer sessions with Reich and Standing, so the coporate-sponsored parts of the conference could run to time. It seemed as though they were imported to give a veneer of intellectual respectability to an affirmation of the corporate capitalist status quo – not a proposition that I view with any equanimity.

          • Grant Robertson 13.3.1.1.1

            My attention has been drawn to your comments about the conference, many of which are just wrong.

            1. There was no ban on questions for Profs Reich and Standing. Each of our keynotes on the first day had an hour of time allocated and we suggested half an hour speaking and half an hour of questions. Prof Reich spoke for a around 20 minutes and then we had the rest of the time as questions. Prof Standing spoke for the full hour, and there was unfortunately no time for questions. Despite that the feedback I had from the audience was that they enjoyed his presentation immensely.

            2. We had a session immediately after Prof Standing involving five different speakers giving an overview of future of work issues. Those people and the audience deserved the respect to have that session. It was not a corporate sponsored part of the event.

            3. In addition to Hawkins Construction, the conference was sponsored by Dairy Workers Union, RMTU, Maritime Union and the Meatworkers Union.

            4. We had a wide range of speakers, including Grant Cleland from the Disability Employment Forum.

            I am really proud of the Future of Work Commission, and especially pleased that Robert and Guy came and delivered the speeches they did.

  14. Observer (Tokoroa) 14

    Hello MiraVox

    . Allow me to thank you for your good words !

    Your name is potent. Mira (latin for wonderful; Vox for Voice)

    Democracy was the high point of Human Development. Privilege by birth was drowned. Slavery within European and English principalities was outlawed.

    There is still the residual urge towards Despotic Dominance (The House of Lords; the Monarchy) But that is because humans in the mass tend to have very low self esteem.

    The real problem is that vomitously obscene people have scooped up the functioning resources. They worsened the problem by creating a breed called Share Holders (whom commoners have to support and pay for through GST, Taxes and exorbitant Sustenance prices).

    Declared themselves as important and deemed themselves as Knights of the realms. They control vast Corporations. They hate ordinary citizens. They trample daily on the common man. They employ him; ditch him; employ him ditch him – dump him.

    In New Zealand they call themselves the Nationals. In Britain the Conservatives. In the USA the Republicans. In China a place of slavery; they call themselves the Communists. Communal? my arse.

    It is however, the Wonderful Voice of humanity that has created the real wealth of the modern world. Basically, because they ignored the cynical and slothful wealthy..

    No human on this planet can afford to flatter the wealthy. Safer to bathe and bask with crocodiles MiraVox.

  15. David H 15

    Unfortunatly it’ll be a case of. Don’t hold your breath.

  16. upnorth 16

    pretty amazing when you see al the people running the show are paid from the public purse – that sort if tells you the politicians are out of touch.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      What nonsense: most of us, immersed as we are in our own lives, have little time for anything remotely approaching research – sure, we fool ourselves that Google knows, and succeed in confirming our existing prejudices.

      Democracy may be the worst possible system apart from all the other ones and it’s a damn sight finer than your bullshit.

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