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How Dirty Politics hurt low-paid workers

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 pm, August 18th, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: wages, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

New bits and pieces from Dirty Politics are coming to the fore every day, painting a picture of a systematic, deliberate strategy to use muck-raking and dirty tricks to subvert political discourse in NZ.

Today, the Building Services Contractors have demanded an explanation for emails quoted in Dirty Politics which seem to show Carrick Graham and Cameron Slater conspiring to attack the BSC and its president on behalf of Crest Clean.

This was the situation: only BSC members were allowed to tender for Government cleaning contracts. This meant that the cleaners who work hard at ungodly hours for public organisations were guaranteed above-minimum wages and fair working conditions.

Why didn’t CrestClean like it? Because CrestClean apparently has some kind of problem with paying people above minimum wage. Last year when they ran a terrible astroturfing campaign against Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act, their campaign account tweeted:

http://twitter.com/Part6A/status/372551325256413184

It tells you everything, doesn’t it? The only reason CrestClean isn’t paying its workers less is because they’re not legally allowed to.

But there were government contracts going and CrestClean wanted in. So according to Nicky Hager, they got a PR guru and a vile attack blogger to run a campaign against the BSC and the rules around government contracts. And they got what they wanted (not surprising, given this is a government which wants to take away your right to a tea break).

So while the Prime Minister is trying to spin some kind of elaborate conspiracy theory of his own on Morning Report and the right can’t agree if their line is “it’s all lies” or “it’s true but everyone does it”, I think this issue deserves closer attention. Because it speaks volumes about Slater and his friends if they would go to such sockpuppeting efforts, all so CrestClean could get paid taxpayer’s money while screwing over some of the lowest-paid workers in New Zealand.

28 comments on “How Dirty Politics hurt low-paid workers ”

  1. vto 1

    Absolutely right.

    And Rob Salmond had it wrong on his “thinking” spot on Te Panel today with Jim Mora. Rob claimed that reasonable people disagree on policies. That is only rarely true. In my mind there is not enough fire in people’s bellies over policies, especially when one party’s policies have a detrimental effect on any group in society that is already at the bottom and suffering.

    For Rob Salmond to think that politics is like some sort of friendly school debate is to show up a naivety and a lack of thinking about the true situation. It is not something whereby, for example, we pleasantly debate letting the Nats let a slice of their constituents into the Crown Retail Guarantee Scheme (south Canterbury finance) claiming $1.7billion, while at the same time slicing the wallets of those on the lowest wage through an increase in GST (people whose minimum wage is lower than the cost to keep a slave). We should not shake hands and wish people sweet dreams at the end, no.

    There is nothing reasonable in many parties policies and I see no need or even base human requirement to shake hands and wish the other party sweet dreams at the end of the debate. If anything the requirement is to fight for those who get cut off at the knees with a vigour and passion that it deserves.

    Wrong Rob Salmond, wrong.

  2. karol 2

    I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Slater has been actively engaged in trying to damage unions. he has a self-confessed long time hatred of unions.

    • MrSmith 2.1

      Slater has been actively involved in paid work attacking unions, along with Farr and others, according to Hager’s book.

      http://www.munz.org.nz/2014/08/16/hager-investigation-has-revealed-ports-of-auckland-agenda/

      That’s the thing we are yet to talk about, Slater’s opinions are brought and paid for like Farr’s, just like some of of us had suspected for a long time, they have been running smear campaigns through their blog paid for by others, this is why it’s being compared to watergate, and if someone can follow the money back to National they are really screwed.

  3. Darien Fenton 3

    It’s not about unions. It’s about a company called CrestClean who has been pushing to have the only protection vulnerable cleaners have from race to the bottom contracting : part 6A of the ERA, which the Labour Government legislated for in 2004 and tightened up in 2006, after Crest won an employment court case. The government’s ERA amendment, still on the books, would have this protection removed for workers working for companies with fewer than 20 workers. They haven’t changed their mind on this – it was always a sop to the pressure from Crest to do away with Part 6A altogether. And after a so-called “review” of the principles for a sustainable cleaning industry, a progressive document signed by Labour, SFWU, BSC and the Property Services Council in 2008 on responsible contracting, the government gutted it so as to open up government contracts to companies like CrestClean, who are not part of a collective agreement, who have no established record and who resist union involvement.

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks for the run down on it, Darien. But isn’t it still ultimately about undermining unions and collective agreements through contracting practices?

      • I think primarily it’s about maximising profit by exploiting vulnerable workers. Smashing unions is a natural part of that process, and there are probably people like Cameron Slater who would do it anyway just because they hate the idea of collective strength overcoming power. But fundamentally, this story is about companies like CrestClean who want to make money: modern greedy capitalism in action.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.2

        I’m with Darien Fenton. Crestfallen (sp?) are responsible for their own actions, and can be held to account for them. Broader accusation just muddy the waters. We’ve seen how the Prime Minister and his enablers thrive in filth, so keep the narrative clean.

    • Mike the Savage One 3.2

      This must be the Nat’s interpretation of “better public service”, being nothing more than cost cutting in all shapes and forms. Pay the cleaners less, and “save” to make the budget look “better”. The same happens in the health sector and other areas now.

    • Michael 3.3

      It’s unusual for Judges to criticize rich people but Chief Judge Colgan of the Employment Court certainly did in the case of Mr McLauchlan. His behavior renders him and his company unfit to receive a cent of taxpayers’ money for anything. I’d love to know how much $$$ McLauchlan, his brother (on nearly every board and public quango there is) have shoveled into NACT’s slush funds over the years.

    • MrSmith 3.4

      This is where Simon Bridges gets dragged into this mess, through Judith Collins if my memory serves me right. Bridges was lobbied to change the law, by lobbyist Garrick Graham, Graham appears to be Slaters main paymaster, his hands are all over this.

      This is how far our Government has sunk, we suspected it was corrupt, but I for one thought they would have covered their tracks better than this, I bet the shredding machines and delete buttons will have been getting a work out over the last few days.

    • Ozzie 3.5

      You clearly have no concept of CrestCleans business model. It operates as a franchise and has hundreds of franchisee’s who tender for work, work hard and earn well above the minimum wage as they are operating their own business. Because of their business model CrestClean were prohibited from tendering for Government work. My understanding is that their reasoning around the stance of 6A was that if a franchisee’s tendered for a contract against an incumbent and won then the franchisee would be obliged to take on the staff of the previous company that lost the contract. Quite clearly as a small franchisee this would be commercial suicide so it would be good if you could explain how in this situation a transition between contractors for contracts in the cleaning industry could happen? Or in your world do competitive contract for service tenders never happen.
      The only one’s who are being protected are the multinational companies who are actually the ones who are paying as little as they possibly can to the very workers that 6A is supposed to protect.

      [Stephanie: Darien is very well aware of CrestClean’s business model. They would have been prohibited from tendering for government contracts because they pay their workers as little as possible.

      Part 6A protects vulnerable workers like cleaners who very often do not lose their jobs when a contract changes hands. Without Part 6A those workers would be forced to accept lower wages and worse terms of employment to keep doing their current jobs.

      If a business needs to exploit low-paid workers to make a profit its “business model” probably needs to be rethought. Or trashed.]

      • Ozzie 3.5.1

        Your argument doesn’t make any sense. CC and many cleaning franchises’ like them don’t actually employ any cleaning staff. Each franchisee own’s their own business so how is it possible to pay them as little as possible. If you look on CC’s website as I have they have over 500 franchisee’s who all appear to be doing very well. It would seem CC pass their profits down to their franchisee’s unlike the multinational cleaning companies who pay workers as little as possible and send their profits back overseas.

  4. dave 4

    it just get worse and worse what have these vile people have been up to they just cant get away with .
    for anyone intrested protest at the pullman hotel 21 august at 6.45 pm these vile people deserved bit of there own back

  5. North 5

    “At The End Of The Day……(Prime Ministerial Sigh)……[Is Nigh]” !

    Campbell Live’s hilarious video montage of TheGodKey obfuscating.

    Indeed it is Mr GodKey. You’ve been sprung !

    Notice the best any of them can do is witter and whine “Smear !”

    Nary a threat of legal action. That’s telling.

  6. Steve Alfreds 6

    I agree North, that’s what makes me laugh. If there was no substance to the allegations and material in Dirty Politics Key, Ede, Collins, Slater, Graham and Williams would all be suing for defamation.

    • MrSmith 6.1

      Exactly! lets not antagonize the hacker because if he dumps the lot, lives and relationships will be destroyed and they know it, snookered!

  7. adam 7

    And working people take it in the neck again.

    I’ve been gleaming from what’s being said in this book, that the elites in this country have a outright hatred for working people. And a utter disregarded for their lives or safety. The hate anybody who works for a living, and is not part of their special wee group.

    I think it’s time for working people to take these bastards on, they have not made anything better. Our kids are going to be serfs, and the land is all going to sold off to some rich prick from off shore.

    Farmers, have you realised they hate you too? They want your land! The prices they pay you, keep going down, the cost for running the farm keep going up. They want to take what you worked hard to grow and sell it off to some rich pricks overseas.

    National has been taken over by a click of hates, bent on selling everything off – cheap.

    • tc 7.1

      yup the big con is most folk think they’ll get ahead with the Brighter Future be it milking cows off dammed rivers, residential housing speculation or a few shares in whatever is hyped up on the cowboy nzx.

      They knew they had a few terms to get the job done, dirty politics is about trying to make it 3-4 by decimating the opposition whatever way they can.

  8. Sable 8

    Utterly revolting but then NZ workers have always been treated badly. Maybe time to stand up for a change and refuse to accept the crap handed down by shifty politicians and their stooges…

  9. the pigman 9

    Reading this reminded me of the paid astroturfing accounts working Red Alert in its twilight years. CCC goons posting under different names (such as “Ryan” and “Ryan’s friend”) shouting the praises of CCC from the rooftops.

    It was such a niche issue at the time it was obvious they were paid shills. Judge for yourself in the comments 😉

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2012/10/27/about-part-6a/
    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2012/12/02/about-part-6a-again/
    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2012/10/31/employment-law-changes-6a-just-part-of-it/

  10. Slightly off topic but related.

    I heard Peter Dunne on RNZ this morning promoting his Superflexi policy – finding the middle ground between Key’s adamant refusal to raise the retirement age and the increasing costs of superannuation.

    Dunne said that this policy will allow those with a ‘shorter retirement life span’ to take a reduced pension from 60. Other people with a ‘longer retirement life span’ can opt to retire at 65 on the standard pension, or work until 70 and get an enhanced pension.

    Who are the people with a ‘shorter retirement life span’ other than people with health issues? According to Dunne it’s manual workers, Maori and Pasifika whose life expectancy is lower than that of affluent white people so they won’t draw on the superannuation scheme as long as more white collar workers and white people in general.

    For the Ultra Right the explanation for this differential in life expectancy is that these poor people make BAD CHOICES so it’s their own fault.

    For those with more advanced cognitive abilities, this situation arises from the facts that :

    Maori and Pasifika are over represented in the ranks of manual / low paid workers;
    manual / low paid workers tend to work hard for long hours and often work unsocial hours;
    they do work which is more likely to be dangerous and/or place physical strains on their bodies;
    the work can be soul destroying because of its monotony, lack of flexibility and autonomy, low social status etc;
    the causal link between persistent psychological stress and illness/early death is well established;
    far from being compensated for the fact that the system shortens their lives, they are paid so poorly their domestic living conditions often exacerbate the stresses and strains imposed by their work;
    when they retire, because they were unable to put anything much aside from their subsistence wages, they spend their retirement scraping by on the minimum state pension in living conditions which are injurious to physical and emotional/mental health.

    These are the people with the shorter retirement life span that Dunne speaks so glibly about – using a phrase which ranks up there with ‘collateral damage’ for sugar coating an ugly reality.

    So, instead of looking to reduce the poverty gap, make low paid work more rewarding and better remunerated (which is not just about wages) Dunne wants to allow/encourage people with a shorter life expectancy to retire at 60 on a reduced pension. This would open up their low status / low paid jobs to younger people and, given the impossibility of thriving on a reduced pension, the poor early retirees will probably have an even shorter retirement life span than they do now.

  11. Disabled Liberation Aotearoa NZ DLANZ 11

    Good article and reinforces your earlier ‘Dirty Politics’ affecting the Maritime Union MUNZ, over the Waterfront dispute. The mainstream Media are focusing on the politics, but this book reveals its a lot deeper

    Regards
    Doug Hay – Cordinator

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