Greens good for workers

Written By: - Date published: 8:20 am, September 18th, 2008 - 74 comments
Categories: election 2008, greens, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Work rights should be a big issue this election. National is proposing to strip workers of their rights to undermine wage increases. The Greens’ work rights policy, on the other hand, rocks.

– Lift the minimum wage from $12 an hour to $15 an hour immediately.
That will restore the minimum wage relative to the average wage to the levels before National came to power in 1990. It would directly increase the incomes of around half a million kiwis and their families.

– A new framework for state sector collective bargaining to ensure consistency and fairness across the public service.
At the moment the public service competes against itself for employees, which isn’t necessarily the most efficient or fair way of doing things. This policy should help ensure consistency and fairness across the state sector.

– An additional statutory holiday to fall between Queen’s Birthday and Labour Weekend.
Go Matariki! It’s about time we had a holiday that specifically recognised Maori culture

– Working to extend paid parental leave to 13 months.
That would bring us more in-line with most of the developed world, only Australia and the US languish behind

– A full review of the Employment Relations Act.
The ERA was a welcome relief after the hell of National’s ECA but since then Labour has rested on its laurels in some respects – making important improvements at the margins (eg minimum wage, holiday pay, meal-breaks/breast-feeding) but not fundamentally improving the bargaining situation for workers.

* A separate government agency to support union and employer bargaining on multi-employer collective agreements.
This is top of the unions’ wish-list. Bargaining for separate collectives at thousands of different businesses is a massive drain on resources and can lead to the unfair situation where the workers in the same union doing the same work are paid different amounts at different businesses.

Go the Greens! Hopefully, Labour’s policy will come some way to matching these proposals.

74 comments on “Greens good for workers”

  1. max 1

    Go Matariki! It’s about time we had a holiday that specifically recognised Maori culture

    Unlike Waitangi day?

    [you think waitangi day is about maori culture? it’s the day the crown and the iwi signed the treaty – it’s like our independence day, our national day.. just because it’s got a maori name doesn’t make it maori. SP]

  2. Billy 2

    How generous of the Greens.

  3. monkey-boy 3

    This policy was from Sept 4th. This just a filler, isn’t it? Like before the next attempted smear – sorry – ‘negative’ camaign issue? I’ve just been reading that there is a plan from LPHO to say that Owen Glenn has secretly funded National’ because the National Party paid for Clarkson’s defence against Peters, and the damages therefore went to National’s defence team? Would you run with it before or after Winston says it at the Privileges Committee? I’d suggest afterwards, it will give a better ‘shock-horror’ angle.
    And seem to get Helen and Winston off the hook too.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the truth either way.

    [Tane: Monkey boy, if you haven’t got anything to add to the discussion then please don’t. Also, the Green policy was officially launched yesterday.]

  4. Bill 4

    Matariki marks the New Year. Every culture does it…except imported colonial ones.

    All in favour of moving celebrations to their correct seasons?

    Why, oh why, oh why do such a number of the unions still give support to Labour when it is obviously the Greens who better serve the interests of workers?

    Career options wouldn’t play any part now would it?

  5. Tane 5

    Bill, quite a few unionists are active members of the Green Party too, and a number have stood for them in recent elections.

    I think it’s probably something to do with the historic link between unions and Labour, as well as the poor cultural fit between the Greens and workers. Plus, rightly or wrongly, most working class people vote Labour. Not many vote Green.

  6. Phil 6

    Oh, surely you jest Bill.

    How could you possibly say that angelic organisations like the EPMU or CTU would be so crude as to put the best interests of their officials ahead of their members!

    Surely it’s only existing politicians that do that.

  7. Bill 7

    The ERA left the balance of bargaining power tilted very much in the bosses favour.

    WFF was a ‘gimme’ to bosses insofar as it moderated wage demands.

    The min wage only went up when there were signs that low paid workers were getting uppity.

    I don’t really want Labour to adopt any Green employment policy. Far better for genuine supporters of labour (rather than Labour supporters) to vote Green.

    And am I right in saying that the Greens would restore strike action as a right and not have it viewed as a crime?

    Christ! I might even vote.

  8. monkey-boy 8

    Fair point – Tane I actually agree wholeheartedly with every proposal there Tane, I just wondered also why it wasn’t vaunted more when it came out.
    I personally would vote Green in a flash if they would dientangle themsleves from the Labour Party under Helen Clark, but because the likes of SUe Bradford appear to prefer ‘death’ first, then in conscience I cannot. Why? because the Labour party just use the Greens as a prop, and until they extricate themselves from this master/servant relataionship, they will never be taken seriously as a serious individual political force. therefore my ‘free vote will go to the Maori Party.
    So why don’t the Greens go Maori too? That would be a damn sight less tokenistic than ‘Matariki’ (of which I also support … but…)

  9. Tane 9

    Phil, I take it you’re aware that party donations are decided by each union’s democratically elected national council, not paid officials.

    Also, the CTU doesn’t make election donations, and its election pamphlet endorses Labour, the Greens, the Progressives and the Maori Party.

  10. Bill 10

    Tane.

    I kind of know that. I guess I just find it maddeningly frustrating. It was a kind of semi-rhetorical question.

  11. Patrick 11

    You’ll be pleased to hear that the unions do support pro-worker policies, regardless of which party they come from.

    Here are the press releasees from Finsec and the EPMU.

    Andrew Little had this to say:

    Compared to National’s vague and contradictory employment policy the Greens’ shows a clear and honest view of the importance of work rights to Kiwi workers and their families.

  12. Tane 12

    Bill, yes, the Greens support restoring the right to strike. They’re getting my vote.

  13. vto 13

    So who do the greens propose pay for all this stuff?

    or do they not address that minor point?

  14. The Green party is the worst possible party for workers. If they rose the minimum wage from $12 to $15, employers would think twice about who they are going to hire, there will also for sure to be cut base.

  15. monkey-boy 15

    Yes Tane, and because of the EFA, those parties may be liable to a bill of $34,000 each becaue of the CTU’ endorsement.
    http://monkeyswithtypewriter.blogspot.com/2008/09/efa-shoots-labour-and-ctu-in-foot.html

    [Tane: No, they may have to account for it in their spending cap. I doubt Labour will mind, and the rest of the parties won’t spend anywhere near their 2 million bucks anyway.]

  16. Billy 16

    Don’t be silly, vto. The Greens do not propose to pay for it. They propose that you do.

  17. Tane 17

    vto. Business has made out like bandits in the 20 years since the neoliberal revolution and it’s come at the expense of New Zealanders’ pay and conditions. This will merely restore the balance.

  18. Tane 18

    Brett, the minimum wage has increased 70% under Labour. Every time it was raised business groups screamed it would lead to higher unemployment. It never happened. At some point you’ve got to reassess your assumptions when your theory is consistently at odds with reality.

  19. vto 19

    ha ha Billy, of course.

    Tane, that’s very simplistic and not right. Of course they propose that the rich pricks pay for it. But of course anyone who knows anything about business knows that business profits and margins are generally pretty static over time. As such, when costs rise those costs are passed on eventually so that the margins remain the same (otherwise investment flows to other locales). End story = prices rise and the public pays.

    So no ‘balance’ gets restored. Except perhaps in that prices for things, which have been tracking down relatively since the ‘neoliberal revolution’, will now track up. There aint no such ting as a free lunch.

    Having said that I have no problem with higher minimum wage. Business is happy when the public has more money to spend.

  20. Tane 20

    vto, if you’ve got some time track wages and salaries as proportion of GDP over time, say from 1984-1999. Also have a look at the distribution of income across society.

    Here’s a good start:

    Whatever, Roger

    The trans-Tasman wage gap

  21. higherstandard 21

    Tane

    “Business has made out like bandits in the 20 years since the neoliberal revolution and it’s come at the expense of New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.”

    That’s a bit all encompassing are you suggesting that no businesses have struggled and gone under in the last two decades and that the populations pay and conditions haven’t improved or have got worse over the same time period ?

    [Tane: Capitalism is a dynamic system. Businesses go up and down. Overall, they’ve done very well over the last 20 years. Workers’ pay and conditions, not to mention their working hours and job security, have not. Makes a mockery out of this whole tax cut sideshow, eh?]

  22. r0b 22

    At some point you’ve got to reassess your assumptions when your theory is consistently at odds with reality.

    That’s only if you use facts to construct your world view.

    If on the other hand you use your world view to construct “facts” then you’ll just carry on and on and on repeating long discredited rubbish, as Brett does.

  23. monkey-boy 23

    The original pamphlet cost approx $43,000 but collectively the parties sting will be $34,500 x 4? Nice if you have the cash, eh, but what if you want to start a new party?
    So, here’s the thing Tane, let us assume that National have their much-touted ‘secret agenda’ to reverse or renege on every aspect of their stated policy. One of their policies is to ‘repeal’ the EFA. If National renege on this pledge to repeal the EFA, and leave the EFA intact exactly as it is, while they are in power. WOuld they get your support in this? Would it be a good thing for the union movement, in your opinion?
    If so, why?

  24. Tane 24

    MB, I don’t have time to get sidetracked into an EFA argument. I support its intent but I think I needs some work and in other places some strengthening. I don’t trust National to make the right changes, especially after the way they rammed through their self-serving Electoral Act in 1993.

  25. r0b 25

    rammed through their self-serving Electoral Act in 1993.

    I wasn’t paying attention to such detail in ’93, so I’d be interested to hear more about this (or links to elsewhere) if there is ever the time.

  26. Felix 26

    monkey that’s a ridiculous premise.

    If I support policy A proposed by party A then why would I be upset if party B is in power and enacts policy A?

  27. higherstandard 27

    Tane

    Simplistic drivel.

    While I can see why the EPMU, unions and the political parties might like to create a worker employer divide it’s just more of the same old right win/left wing bad/good cak that NZs been spoon fed for decades.

    [Tane: There is a fundamental contradiction between capital and labour. One wants to higher profits, the other wants higher wages. Both come out of the same pool, and therein lies the conflict.]

  28. Tane 28

    r0b, I was being slightly facetious. However it is worth noting that under the old Electoral Act National was able to hide its backers from the public by laundering its donations through secret trusts.

    “Undemocratic!” “Self-serving!” etc.

  29. Bill 29

    Cut to the chase chaps!

    The plant and machinery was produced by ‘me’ (the workers). Any production coming from that plant and machinery is mine. (I paid for and made the plant and it’s my time and effort that produces the goods coming from that plant and machinery)

    Any cash injection came about from the thievery of the bosses who laid claim to the plant, machinery and products and took their cut from my labour.

    The workers have paid for EVERYTHING to date. The bosses have paid for NOTHING.

    If every time you walked down the street, the same joker strolled up to you and took $20 out your pocket and said it was his by right based simply on ‘the way things are’, what would you do? Hand the money over with a smile and a thankyou?….And the bosses take way more than $20. They could never squeal loud enough in my book. They be thieves. It’s that simple.

  30. hs. obviously individual experiences vary but the overall pattern of workers losing out as a share of gdp (and in the 1990s even in real terms) to the gain of capitalists during the neoliberal revolution is clear.. youve seen all the stats here dozens of times, time to reasess your preconceptions.

  31. all true Bill.. unfortunately we’re some way away from socialising the means of production, distribution, and exchange

  32. monkey-boy 32

    Felix: “If I support policy A proposed by party A then why would I be upset if party B is in power and enacts policy A?”

    ergo you would support a National ‘secret agenda’ re the EFA?

  33. higherstandard 33

    SP

    Most businesses in NZ are SMEs you and the EPMU seem to be locked into a rather backward view perhaps you should reassess your preconceptions.

  34. Bill 34

    “unfortunately we’re some way away from socialising the means of production, distribution, and exchange”

    Not really. The Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1906 facilitates socialisation of production.

    The framework is there. It’s just that ‘nobody’ uses it, either because they don’t know about it or because of that old bugbear – conditioning.

  35. Felix 35

    hs is just playing “retard’s advocate”. How he ever got through pretend med school with that attitude I don’t know.

  36. Tane 36

    HS, most people aren’t employed by SMEs though. Big difference.

    Also, the EPMU and other unions take a slightly more conservative stance than myself and Comrade Pierson. And the ones that don’t are usually three-man operations who couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. Give it time though.

  37. higherstandard 37

    Felix

    Haven’t you got some pretend instruments to play ?

  38. higherstandard 38

    Tane

    I believe that the largest employer in NZ is still the government either directly or indirectly.

  39. felix, hs. lay off the personal stuff

  40. RedLogix 40

    Tangentially the Greens could also take credit for their prescient policy positions over Country of Origon Food Labelling and their opposition to the FTA with China.

    No-one would want to be point scoring for the mere sake of it while hundreds, possibly thousands of babies remain critically ill…. at the same time this ‘melamine in the milk’ disaster has fully justified the Green’s concerns about trade with China on a massive and tragic scale.

    It remains to be seen how this plays out, but there is the potential for Fonterra and by direct consequence the New Zealand economy, to be crippled by this affair.

  41. Felix 41

    Ok sorry Steve, I’m off to fly my fighter jet anyway.

  42. higherstandard 42

    Just make sure it’s not in Iraq and you’re not using depleted Uranium.

  43. hs. both the statements that most employers are SMEs and that the Govt is the largest employer are true but I fail to see how they undermine arguments for the greens’ po’icies

  44. Santi 44

    You left the sentence incomplete. It should read “Greens good for workers….in Russia or any other Kyoto non-signatory state”.

    The truth of the matter is that the loony policies of the Greens will bankrupt NZ by making it less competitive in the international stage. Add to this disaster socialist Labour failed policies.

    And the prize for the Kiwi populace: to live in a very expensive glorified national park!

  45. Pascal's bookie 45

    As opposed to those enlightened right wing policies that have served Wall St so well Santi

  46. weka 46

    therefore my ‘free vote will go to the Maori Party.

    Then it will be a wasted vote, Monkey-boy. The Maori Party get their MPs from the electorate vote not the party vote (by all means give your electorate vote to them if you can). Your party vote won’t make any difference at all. You may as well just vote National.

    The way for the Greens to get more independant from Labour is for them to get more MPs. The more MPs they have the more bargaining power and the more they can build their voter base. I don’t agree with everything the Greens do, but they are the only viable party vote at the moment if you truely want an alternative to Labour.

  47. monkey-boy 47

    weka, that is amongst the most concise informative and objective posts I have thus far read in these hallowed halls. thnx. The problem then is that the Green Party is so philosophically attached to the Labour Party which is only vaguely left of the Nats which suggests if they got more MP’s they would use it to merely coalesce with Labour, and voila back to square one. Anything other than a landslide for the Greens consigns them into the same too hard basket. Now, if they were to apply the same pragmatism to a coalition with National, they might not be consigning themselves to the political wilderness in the v.n. future.. But they refuse to grow. Ironically it is a policy which is asset-stripping their own political leverage for short-term advantage.

  48. weka 48

    The problem then is that the Green Party is so philosophically attached to the Labour Party which is only vaguely left of the Nats which suggests if they got more MP’s they would use it to merely coalesce with Labour, and voila back to square one.

    I don’t see the Greens as that bad yet. A main point of the Greens at the moment is to stop Labour having free reign. If the Greens aren’t there then we’re completely fcuked.

    However while I vote Green and am currently a member I don’t see the Greens as the be all and end all. They’re just what we have to work with at the moment. I think of them as a tool for waking NZers up to environmental and social realities and getting some change happening (not creating an ideal world). And of course political parties aren’t the only agents of change by any means.

    But it’s true that the longer they are in power the more mainstream they will become. The value in that is that the Green issues will become mainstream. The downside is that the Greens themselves will become more mainstream. But that just opens the way eventually for something else to step into the gap left behind. And so it goes on. The radical edge always leads the way until the mainstream catches up and then a new edge appears.

    I don’t believe the Greens will form a coalition with National, I’m not sure why people keep bringing that up, it’s so unrealistic.

    But they refuse to grow. Ironically it is a policy which is asset-stripping their own political leverage for short-term advantage.

    Sorry, you lost me there. What do you mean?

  49. rave 49

    Steve:
    all true Bill.. unfortunately we’re some way away from socialising the means of production, distribution, and exchange

    But this process is on track. Public service biggest employer. SOEs, take back rail, subcontracting to private sector buses in Auckland. Whenever a key firm falls over we pick it up. Shame we pay them to die.
    And what about that postercrony of market freedom, nationalising failing corporates? And taking a shareholding in AIG, though its really a freebee capitalising it for about 3X its market worth.
    How long will it be before Fonterra comes running for help defending its brand? If we loan out the clean green share they should pay for it.
    Were on track even if its narrow, single, and not yet electrified.
    But can’t wait to put my finger on the switch.

  50. monkey-boy 50

    weka = “Ironically it is a policy which is asset-stripping their own political leverage for short-term advantage.”
    I mean that the way they are capitalising on their popularity now, but if only using it to prop up Labour (see ‘I’m not sure why people keep bringing that up, it’s so unrealistic’ for example of this) is going to damage them, it’s a short-term gain in influence now, but is rendering them as unreliable into the future. They are putting themselves into a corner. When they have finished mining their present popularity, what will they have – the idea that they woould rather be dead than work with National? Why are they so blinkered? It is a very old-worlde FPP mentality which will damage them longer-term. It betrays the generation that their hierarchy was born into, not the world of tomorrow. (Another irony?)

  51. Tane 51

    MB, the National Party have a right-wing economic agenda that in philosophy and policy direction is the direct antithesis of everything the Greens stand for. Why would they go with National?

    The reality is the only major party the Greens can work with is Labour, who for all their neoliberal tendencies at least share similar basic principles and a broadly compatible policy direction.

  52. uroskin 52

    “unfortunately we’re some way away from socialising the means of production, distribution, and exchange”

    The USA is well on the way these days.

  53. Greg 53

    What is good for workers in the short run is generally very bad for workers in the long run. I thought the Green’s would have been taught this by Muldoon’s mistakes?

    [question marks go at the end of questions. 'I thought..' is a statement of your previous belief. SP]

  54. Santi 54

    Tane said “The reality is the only major party the Greens can work with is Labour..”

    You didn’t mean the word “work”. What you meant is to take orders from.

    The Green Party has shown to be Labour’s lapdog and minion, a quasi-slave capable of taking punishment and granting all concessions for the “pleasure” of being in power.

    You could say the Greens have been as bad as the corrupt Peters.

  55. r0b 55

    Santi, you could spread your lies more effectively if they were just even a tiny bit plausible.

    The Greens can be proud of both their solid record of achievements over the last term. Never was there a party less obsessed with power for power’s sake. Go Green.

  56. Vanilla Eis 56

    Greg: So what is bad for workers in the short run is going to be good for them in the long run?

    Explain please.

  57. Vanilla Eis 57

    Santi: The Greens haven’t actively supported Labour in Government since 2002. They opposed them 2002-2005 and currently abstain (Neither providing support nor actively opposing).

    How does that fit with your image of a party willing to grin and take it up the ass in exchange for power?

    In fact, the only party that I can see going through that much discomfort in an effort to gain power is the National Party.

  58. John BT 58

    I have never been able to understand why people really concerned about workers dont set up their own businesses and then treat the staff how they think they should be treated.
    Its not that hard. All you have to do is invest your life savings, work 7 days a week, deal with a mountain of paperwork, put up with idiot bureaucrats and have the joy of dealing with employees.
    I suppose it is a lot easier just to moan about the evil bosses.
    I wonder how many people on these blogs are doing so on their employers time.
    As for Matariki as a Maori day off? Surely not.

  59. The greens are not condemning the gangs treat claims. This shows how out of touch with REAL NewZealand they are.

  60. Vanilla Eis 60

    Brett: Maori aren’t part of ‘REAL NewZealand’?

    What are they part of? What is ‘REAL NewZealand’?

  61. Greg 61

    Vanilla Eis: “Greg: So what is bad for workers in the short run is going to be good for them in the long run?

    Explain please.”

    Thats not what I said.

    I said: “What is good for workers in the short run is generally very bad for workers in the long run.”

    But here’s the explanation. I refered to Muldoon because he used massive government investment to create jobs for the unemployed, good for workers right? It was – in the short run. But the debt ran up because of this investment eventually came back to bite New Zealand in the ass. This resulted in high inflation, high unemployment etc All because we had to pay this debt back. High inflation and unemployment is very bad for workers in the long run, and I think we saw the effects of this in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

    SP – My grammar’s crap. I try, but its still crap. So if I slip up once in a while, please let it go.

  62. Of course Maori are part of real New Zealand, along with White folk, Asians, Muslims, etc etc etc.

    Gang members who murder and rape and commit crime aren’t part of REAL NewZealand, and for The Greens not to condemn their treaty claim is an outrage.

  63. Tane 63

    Greg. Muldoon was no socialist, and certainly no advocate of workers’ rights. What you’ve done is conflate Muldoonism with workers’ rights and then claim that because Muldoon was bad for workers then so are workers’ rights.

    Absurd.

  64. toad 64

    Brett Dale – why are you condemning the Black Power Treaty claim.

    Do you know enough about the substance of it (I don’t) to know that it is not a legitimate claim?

    Or are you condemning it just because of who lodged it?

  65. leftie 65

    Never understood this employer strategy:

    Drive down wages and conditions through Government Legislation/Policy and screw the trade unions by undermining collective contracts or encouraging worker against worker. At the end of all this, goods and services keep going up, leaving us (the workers) with less money to spend on employers’ goods and services.

    So the point is employers lose out by us not spending money on goods and services, or us buggering off overseas for a higher hourly rate.

    Well done Greens! This is something genuine for the workers to vote for.

  66. Because they are criminals and are trying to make an excuse for their behavior, do you really think when they are murdering/raping dealing P to kids, that its anything to do with the colonization?

  67. Vanilla Eis 67

    Greg: If you believe

    A) What is good for workers in the short run is generally very bad for workers in the long run

    Then

    B) What is bad for workers in the short run is generally very good for workers in the long run

    follows.

    If it doesn’t, then please tell me what is good for workers in the long run and how we can work towards that in the short term.

  68. outofbed 68

    “Whale Rider actor stands for Greens
    Actor Rawiri Paratene is standing as the Green Party candidate for Maungakiekie in the November election.”

    That should bring in the Whale vote

  69. Pascal's bookie 69

    “B) What is bad for workers in the short run is generally very good for workers in the long run”

    Strike! 😉

  70. Fair comment JohnBT.

    P.S If the Greens get the chance to enforce their full agendas then there will be bugger all jobs left in NZ anyway. Work rights won’t matter much when there’s no work to go to.

  71. Bill 71

    Richard Hurst and John BT

    In countries where the bosses have ‘cut and run’ (Argentina is an example), workers have taken over shut down operations and run them successfully.

    The Green employment policy wouldn’t have a detrimental effect on business. The current global meltdown in the financial sector and it’s inevitable knock on effect into the real economy will.

    So it’s just a shame that the Unions in NZ have focussed on redundancy packages for when a company goes under (or is going under) rather than on developing strategies whereby workers take over operations.

  72. toad 72

    outofbed said: That should bring in the Whale vote

    As long as it doesn’t bring in the Whale Oil vote. The less of them who vote the better.

  73. Chris 73

    Sigh, yet again the greens prove that they have little grasp of economics. Then again I suppose they have to seem more extreme than labour to grab the far left

    (I’m a labour party supporter by the way)

  74. Greg 74

    “Greg. Muldoon was no socialist, and certainly no advocate of workers’ rights. What you’ve done is conflate Muldoonism with workers’ rights and then claim that because Muldoon was bad for workers then so are workers’ rights.

    Absurd.”

    Tane – Do you have to be a socialist to believe in workers rights? The Muldoon example was used (as merely an example) to show how what improved workers prospects in the short run, was very bad in the long run. For another example visit the thread above on four weeks annual leave.

    “Greg: If you believe

    A) What is good for workers in the short run is generally very bad for workers in the long run

    Then

    B) What is bad for workers in the short run is generally very good for workers in the long run

    follows.

    If it doesn’t, then please tell me what is good for workers in the long run and how we can work towards that in the short term.”

    Vanilla Eis – It doesn’t follow. To assume the reverse of a statement is always true is a very naive notion. What is good for workers in the long run is low unemployment, low inflation, high productivity and high wages. For all of these to be achieved similtaneously in a long term sustainable manner there needs to be little government intervention in the labour market to ensure the free market can do what it does best and allocate all resources efficiently. Only when this occurs can workers reach maximumm productivity and the other benefits will follow. The best we can do for workers in the short run is to avoid intervening in the labour market.

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