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Has Business NZ been telling porkies?

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, May 17th, 2022 - 18 comments
Categories: employment, labour, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

Business NZ has claimed that the proposed Fair Play legislation breaches International Labour Law.  And that the International Labour Organisation agrees with it.

But its claims appear to be on the wrong side of what we could politely describe as the truth.

From Daniel Smith at Stuff:

BusinessNZ is being accused of misinformation in its handling of an International Labour Organisation document that implied New Zealand had been found to be in breach of international labour law.

On Monday morning BusinessNZ said the Fair Pay Agreement Bill, currently under select committee consultation, had landed New Zealand on an international “naughty list” of the 40 “worst case breaches” of international labour treaties.

But the list, compiled by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, was actually a list of alleged breaches, which may or may not be heard by a committee later this year.

The reason New Zealand was on the list was because BusinessNZ had successfully petitioned the ILO to consider whether the proposed Fair Pay Agreement bill was in breach of international law.

The BusinessNZ list, which put New Zealand alongside Afghanistan, Nigeria, and China, had the title “‘Worst cases’ breaches of international labour treaties”.

But the original ILO title for the list was “Preliminary list of cases as submitted by the social partners Committee on the Application of Standards”.

BusinessNZ, employment relations policy manager Paul Mackay,​ admitted BusinessNZ changed the name of the list.

But he said it was not a mischaracterisation to say New Zealand was in breach of international labour law, when the ILO had made no such decision.

This followed on from this morning’s Herald article where it was reported that the ILO favoured collective bargaining but Business NZ clearly thought that it was referring to voluntary bargaining.

Where do we start?  This is Cameron Slater quality mischaracterisation of reality from an organisation that is meant to represent New Zealand businesses.

How about these claims?

  • New Zealand has been found to be in breach of ILO law.
  • New Zealand had been placed on a naughty list.
  • Renaming a list of complaints as “Worst cases’ breaches of international labour treaties”.

If you disingenuously continuously stretch the meaning of plain english words to breaking point you get close to what Business NZ has claimed.  But even then anyone with a basic level of English comprehension would reply with a “what the” to any of these claims.  It is the same as someone filing a case in court and then immediately claiming that they had won.

There should be a repercussion for this sort of behaviour.  If an organisation contaminates public discourse with this sort of crap their right to have their views amplified by main stream media should be revoked.

18 comments on “Has Business NZ been telling porkies? ”

  1. Nigel Haworth 1

    The employer party in the ILO had been gearing up for some time to use the ILO as a weapon against organised labour. The ILO traditionally advocated both worker voice and collective bargaining (in 1919, as an antidote to Communism). Employers (one of the three social partners) long tolerated this as an important dimension of the Keynesian Accommodation.

    When neo-liberalism came along, ILO principles were anathema. However, it was not going to easy to shut down the ILO, so employers sought to subvert the Organisation. New Zealand employers were front and centre in this strategy. Hence, I’m not surprised to read that Business New Zealand (NZ’s employer agency in the ILO) has used ILO principles to attack FPAs, but I will admit to surprise at the crass way the ILO was gratuitously misrepresented in an attempt to blacken NZ’s reputation.

    • Tiger Mountain 1.1

      NZ employer organisations were not so keen to quote the ILO back in the 90s I recall when a special investigation was done into the NZ Employment Contracts Act!

      • georgecom 1.1.1

        what a surprise.

        taking things on a bit of a tangent, but related, is productivity. Luxon, the bloke from ACT, Business NZ and others go on about the need for productivity in order for wages to rise they say. Yup, good and fine. So how about we index wages to productivity gains from the past 30 years since the ECA was enacted. The median & average wages would be several dollars higher. As it is, wages have not kept pace with productivity growth. That is, imo, one of the things FPA set out to partially resolve. An alternative for business, if they do not like the idea of FPAs, is a General Wage Order that the Employment Authority can make. We used to have that mechanism and one of the things the arbitration court looked at in order to set a GWO was productivity growth.

  2. tc 2

    There certainly should be repercussions from yet another deliberate attempt to misrepresent facts to smear the govt.

    Not sorting this ongoing DP bs from nationals media will be a deciding factor as it's been before in elections.

    Epic fail from labour not giving kiwis a more accountable media.

    • Anne 2.1

      I don't think it is so much that we don't have an accountable media. I can imagine the howls of rage if the Govt. tried to legislate for such accountability. It would immediately be misrepresented as an attempt to control the media for its own ends.

      But I do agree Labour is failing to counter the smears and misrepresentation that are only going to get worse as we draw closer to the election. One would have thought that their experience during the Key years in particular was sufficient for them to know that ignoring it is a sure recipe for ultimate disaster.

      • tc 2.1.1

        Code of conduct with fines against the management not the jonolist/press release readers.

        It's not that hard if you value the integrity of your media.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.1.2

        Yes Anne, the natzo brand of Dirty Politics has not gone away at all. The 2020 election campaign and all those resignations for various reasons, should be a good reminder of how disastrous a National ACT Govt. would be.

        The usual suspects have just morphed into different channels, e.g. Sean Plunkett etc.
        The right never sleeps when it comes to disinformation. Even Max Key (who?) has popped up again in public.

        New gen voters will out number boomers in 2026 and be close in 2023–but they need to be engaged and enrolled and turn out. The slow death of post and renter transience is another difficulty. The codger vote tends to be consistent address wise.

        This first MMP majority Labour Govt. should at least declare Election Day a paid public holiday.

      • Chris 2.1.3

        It's very difficult to counter lie after lie after lie.

  3. Patricia Bremner 3

    We now need the ILO to respond to the misinformation. End that conversation. A request for clarification should do it.

    Woods response was dignified truthful and cutting. Shades of Cullen. He impresses more and more.

  4. Chris 4

    Shouldn't the question be whether Business NZ has been telling the truth?

    • Patricia Bremner 4.1

      Sorry Chris, I actually thought it was a rhetorical question lol.

      devil So many larger businesses took advantage of the covid help, and the number being prosecuted for wage "mistakes" shows how low they go. Strange how the mistakes generally penalise the workers… so no surprises about Business NZ stretching the truth.!!

      Lies fall into categories. The gentle white lie to avoid pain.
      A blatant barefaced lie.
      The lie by omission leaving out facts.
      The deliberate twisting of facts to change people’s understanding, as was the case here.

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