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It’s about jobs … and social security?

Written By: - Date published: 9:34 am, September 6th, 2013 - 168 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, benefits, class war, david cunliffe, democratic participation, grant robertson, jobs, labour, unemployment, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

The need for more jobs and improvements in pay and workers’ rights have got a lot of airing in the current Labour leadership contest. There has been a lesser focus on the need to end the latest Key government rounds of beneficiary bashing.  Only pressure “from below” will ensure that a Labour led government follows through on these aims.

Mai Chen’s piece is a useful quick guide to the way employment law is changing, not just directly through legislation, but also as the result of court judgments.  She summarises some of the main changes that have occured under the National government.

• National is amending legislation to provide greater flexibility for employers, including removing the requirement to conclude collective bargaining and saying when bargaining ends;

• An increased onus on health and safety in the aftermath of the Pike River disaster including a duty on directors, chief executives and others in governance roles to be pro-active in health and safety. Significant liability will potentially ensue if such a duty is not met.

• Employers will be required to have accurate information (that is, able to be verified) in any restructuring proposal and be prepared to reconfirm or redeploy employees to other positions.

• Employers can now seek employees’ Facebook and bank records to check whether they are validly taking sick leave;

• Aligning pay in sectors where the workforce is predominantly female with comparable roles mostly performed by men in other sectors.

Cathy Bi explains how she learned to mistrust myths she was sold throughout her years in formal education.  After finishing university she met with the harsh reality of finding work in an environment that does not favour young people:

I thought to myself, this does not match up to the story I have been sold throughout my school life that if you just work hard in your studies, you will find a great job at the end. What they should have said is: “If you just work hard in your studies, get to know the right people, spend months as a ‘jobseeker’ (a euphemism for unemployed), spend a few years doing contract jobs, then you might get a good stable job – if you’re lucky.”

It’s difficult being a young person in the labour market. About one in six Kiwis aged 15-24 who are looking for work are unemployed. For Maori, the unemployment level is 38.3 per cent – its highest level since 1990. However, even those in work often face job insecurity.

Casualisation of the labour force is becoming a norm with 42 per cent of casual workers between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2008.

Putting myself through varsity, most of my jobs were at the minimum wage or no more than a dollar above it. From 12-hour shifts at Farmers, to occasional doughnut selling where I would receive a txt message the day before asking me to work.

Cathy has now got a short term job working for “Caritas promoting Social Justice Week (September 8-14)”.  In researching the week’s theme on youth, work and unemployment she,

was surprised by the number of young people, some as young as 15 and 16, who worked to support their family and themselves.

Cathy too, focuses on the impact of recent legislation.  The 90 day trial period has

 eroded the quality of the jobs available to young people like myself. We are seen as a source of cheap labour, easily replaceable.

Young people can only cope with this if they are supported by family, not if they have to support themselves and others. The looming changes that will flow from the Employment Relations Amendment Bill will make it less likely that young people will learn about the benefits of collective bargaining and the value of unions.

Mai Chen frames her article with some words about the Labour leadership contest, and its focus on jobs, especially in relation to Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe’s proposal for a “living wage” and their promises to

 roll back amendments to the Employment Relations Act going through Parliament.

The Waikato Times also reports that the focus of last night’s Leadership meeting in Hamilton was on jobs.  Robertson talked of the 180 AgResearch workers who had lost their jobs in Huntly, and the general need for more jobs.  Cunliffe talked also about the loss of 170 AgResearch jobs in Ruakura.  As Labour leader he would aim to encourage more jobs with a focus on regional economic development.

The focus by these two leadership contenders on improving employment law and jobs for the benefit of workers is excellent.  However, there’s less focus on another section of society whose lives are being devastated by John Key’s government: beneficiaries.

David Cunliffe, in his Standard blog post this week, and his comments beneath it, has expressed a desire for a more Savage-like social security, and to end the Nats nasty beneficiary bashing.

The First Labour Government led us through the Great Depression and built the welfare state, ensuring housing, education, health, a decent job and social security for all.

Savage social security

However, Cunliffe does not focus in as much depth on social security as he does on employment issues.

In her article, Mai Chen gives a reason for the Labour leadership contenders focusing on jobs:

The constitutional change made at the Party’s annual conference last year which democratised the vote for the leadership underscored the importance of worker rights by giving the party’s affiliated unions 20 per cent of the vote, while party members have 40 per cent and caucus members 40 per cent.

However, while the unions do have 20% of the votes, members have more.  If Chen is correct in her argument, the membership plus the wider politically active community, might also be able to use their collective energy and voice to highlight the need for a broader view of social security for those unable to participate in paid work.

Many union members also have a wider view of social security, being aware of how life circumstances for themselves and others can very quickly change.

The democratisation of the Labour Party shows the importance of pressure “from below” in the direction parliamentary politics takes. There will be no major shift away from the neoliberal scam, unless the wider community actively applies concerted pressure for such changes.

168 comments on “It’s about jobs … and social security? ”

  1. Pete 1

    Security – even beyond the benefit system – is something a lot of people are looking for, and have been for a long time. Even the right wingers recognise that in their own narrow way, which is why a lack of volatility in mortgage rates is such a big deal for them.

    The trouble is, they’ve been actively working to create an unsecure environment for a lot of people. The attempt to create on-call zero-hours jobs at Ports of Auckland and all the other employment law changes. People adjust their lives accordingly. Unable to put down roots, the have become the Precariat. And the quality of life in NZ has suffered for it.

    • The Savage Govt regarded Full Employment as the main social security policy plank.

      This was achieved by Govt taking a leading role in the economy, creating jobs by public works on roads, rail, bridges, houses, and regulating the market to stabilise prices and production and hence jobs.

      Today when the economy is being ruined by the rip, shit, bust greed of the banksters, it is even more necessary for the Govt to take a leading role to make Full Employment possible.

      There is no way that even the modest jobs proposals put forward in this leadership contest can work without the removal from privilege and power of the property owning class.

      That means it is not enough to go back to Savage and the policies that met the conditions that prevailed then, but also forward to the socialisation of the economy under democratic control.

  2. weka 2

    Cunliffe and Roberton being focussed on job creation is understandable, however Cunliffe’s response to the beneficiary question was problematic. Quite a few questions the other day were about welfare/benefit issues, and DC chose to answer only one of them –

    “What is your view on Work and Income beneficiaries, esp re Labour policy (carrot or stick)?

    How do you intend to repair the damage done by the deserving working poor vs lazy/cheating beneficiary meme?”

    I am not into beneficiary bashing in any way, shape or form. I do want to see intensive case management with support for unemployed kiwis to find work. That means there has to be jobs to go to. And we also have to respect people’s individual challenges and family circumstances.

    The problem I have is that he seems to frame the issue almost wholely in terms of unemployment. Sure there is an acknowledgement of individual circumstances, but how many beneficiaries are not on the dole? (it’s not an insignificant amount). And much of the bene bashing (public and govt sponsored) is aimed at ill people and sole parents, ostensibly not the people at the front of the queue needing a job.

    It also concerns me that he see intensive case management as a core part of addressing benefit issues. If there are enough jobs, why would you need such case management? And if there aren’t enough jobs, then targeted case management makes sense (eg for people who don’t have job seeking skills), but otherwise it still smacks of unemployed people just need to try harder and we’ll give them the support.

    I know he didn’t have a lot of time to answer, but I wasn’t left feeling confident.

    • bad12 2.1

      i agree with the intent of your comment, while we have to remember that David Cunliffe is, and will be, a very busy man now and into the future i think most of us here at the Standard have recognized the reluctance of Labour politicians both when in Government and when not, the importance of undoing the damage done to our welfare system by the ‘Neo-liberal ism’,

      To suggest that unemployed people ‘need pushing’ into employment in any way is a denigration of the average unemployed person in this country, and, the evidence of the numbers who line up attempting to secure even the lowest paid supermarket employment when it is publicly offered is the proof of this assertion,

      i would suggest to David Cunliffe that when His Government sets up it’s first ‘tree planting gang’ in the provinces He simply causes this employment to be advertised in local newspapers,

      An advertizement consisting of,”Tree planters wanted, no experience necessary, good rates of pay” will provide proof to ALL the Labour Caucus of just how willing the average unemployed person is to take up work anywhere…

      • Christine 2.1.1

        If you believe that the “average unemployed person” will be willing to take up work anywhere as a tree planters, can you explain why those same people are not willing to work in horticulture?

        The lack of interest of New Zealanders working in vineyards and orchards led to the Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme for Pacific Islanders. While I think this is an excellent scheme for the Pacific Islanders and works well for the vineyards and orchard farmers, I find it sad that taxpayers fund both unemployment benefits and the Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme and that New Zealanders don’t get the benefits of working.

        • McFlock

          As I recall from a jaunt to Roxburgh years back, the issues were around piecemeal work not adding up to covering moving, and in one case the orchard manager sending workers in to thin trees within moment of finishing spraying. Most of the workers at the camp complained of rashes, but in those days I didn’t know who to go to about it.

          But the prime thing was that the workers who had their eye in made enough for some savings, while others barely broke even. Surprisingly fine line between “thinned not enough” and “now the branch is going to die”.

        • bad12

          Are you suggesting that all the unemployed should abandon what homes in the cities they have and become a band of gypsies following the various horticulture seasons around the countryside,

          Them and the kids should live in tents perhaps???and when no work is available they all should simply disappear??? i suppose you would be more than willing to turn over a paddock at your place for this band of gypsies to camp out in for the off season???

          Funnily enough when expanding their horticulture operations these businesses FAILED to ensure that there was the labour in the areas of expansion necessary to undertake what is temporary work and then FAILED to build suitable accommodation to house workers and their families,

          There are no vineyards or orchards that i know of operating in South Auckland, Porirua or any other areas where there are high numbers of unemployed people…

          • srylands

            “Are you suggesting that all the unemployed should abandon what homes in the cities they have and become a band of gypsies following the various horticulture seasons around the countryside,”


            • Tracey

              Does that mean you are in Hungary now?

              • srylands

                Does that mean you are drunk in the Melville Tavern now?

                • Tracey

                  I was noting your support of Roma generally, and Hungary has the largest population of Roma. I have no idea what your reference is to.

            • bad12

              SSLands,F off back to your fantasy land fool…

              • srylands

                More typical rudness. And you are the one who lives in a fantasy.

                • McFlock

                  you don’t think that treating people like pieces of 2×4, to be transported around the country as and where needed, counts as “rudeness”?

                  • Rogue Trooper

                    carts and donkeys are available; they don’t have to walk all the way Flockie.

                    • McFlock

                      Regardless, relocating people is more complicated than relocating timber.

                      Sure, you might get a minimum (but not living) wage at the end of it. All you had to do was say goodbye to most of your social connections and any possession that couldn’t be transported. Let alone figure out child/pet care.

                    • Rogue Trooper

                      yes, these further stretching of social connections, with NZ already coming in as one of the most dis connected societies according to recent Public Health study findings out of Auckland University. (’bout a month ago, reported on that frequent foe of the right, RNZ.)

                • Tracey

                  …and suggesting someone is drunk isn’t rude? You are a complicated man/woman from Australia/New Zealand Srylands

                  • srylands

                    “and suggesting someone is drunk isn’t rude?”

                    Well stop writing stuff like you are high then.

                    • Tracey

                      Have you forgotten that you keep forgetting to keep your story straight from day to day.

                      I do hope you are self-employed, given the time you spend during working hours here… would hate to think you were robbing your employer of productivity.

                • bad12

                  SSLANDS, thank you, i try daily to be as rude as possible to you and your ilk, but you specifically,

                  Another successful day, i am happy…

            • karol

              I have had a conversation with a young single mother in west Auckland who was looking for seasonal orchard/picking/horticulture work, as suggested by WINZ. It was about impossible for her to find any within commuting distance….. and then there’s her children.

              Let’s have some realism, please!

              • Tracey

                I think she should have known before she had children that she might lose her job and so should not have had children that would prevent her from moving to an orchard to pick fruit.

                • bad12

                  Lolz Tracey, what we need is laws which force young single mothers to put their children into State care so as to enable them to be able to travel widely of the countryside seeking horticulture work,

                  We should tho be really caring and provide portable tents,…sarc/

                  • Tracey

                    well, srylands (most recently of Hungary) has suggested we embrace these folks as Roma (he used the antiquated term Gypsies). So horses and wagons will be trawling through the country, and when srylands is in NZ, he wont mind them camping on his front lawn, cos he’s no nimby (except when he is an Australian)

                    the funny thing is that people like srylands truly believe the world is how they see it. perhaps when he asks what planet we are from, it’s because he is nowhere near Earth?

                    • weka

                      The irony is that many people working in orchards are in fact living a non-ethnic gypsy life. Typically it’s people living in mobile homes, overseas visitors on work (or not) visas who have no possessions or dependents and who like moving around., and locals who want to pick up bits of work here and there because they have other sources of income (although the locals tend to get the better paying jobs). For a lot of those people the lifestyle makes up for the poor pay/work conditions. Plus the workers being imported from places where the wage rates are lower.

                      Syrlands is an idiot. What is the point of moving from Auckland to Marlborough or Central if at the end of the season you are in debt?

                      “Lolz Tracey, what we need is laws which force young single mothers to put their children into State care so as to enable them to be able to travel widely of the countryside seeking horticulture work,”

                      Don’t be silly. The state should put creches onsite, and then by the time the kids are five they can be taught how to pick fruit (pretty nimble getting up those trees). Or maybe sorting rotten fruit in the packing shed, and they can onsell the seconds somehow to pay for their food and board, and repay the state for their pre-work care.

                • QoT

                  God, you lefties. The answer’s simple: she needs to sell her children to the orchard owner. They have small hands, you know.

              • big bruv

                Then why did WINZ not tell her to move?. Simple really.

            • joe90


              Translation – this is what I want.


            • Foreign Waka

              So does this mean then that slavery is just a contorted word for flexible arrangement of employment?

          • Tracey

            what horticulture work for the unskilled happens in the winter?

          • Christine

            There’s no land for tree planting in South Auckland or Porirua either. I had assumed the people you are talking about who are keen to do tree planting will be prepared to move to pick up those jobs.

            • beGone Craven Spy Bill leopard

              @ Christine,

              If a good job was available, I am sure a lot would be prepared to move.

              • srylands

                “If a good job was available, I am sure a lot would be prepared to move.”

                So why do we import thousands of workers from overseas to work in horticulture?

                • beGone Craven Spy Bill leopard

                  @ Srylands
                  Because orchard-owners weren’t prepared to raise the wages and/or conditions of the jobs they had on offer to allow it to be a viable option for New Zealanders.

                  What McFlock said (above is exactly what I witnessed occurring too; poor conditions and pay not covering expenses.

                • McFlock

                  What’s this “we”, Australian?

                • Tracey

                  when you say “we” do you mean those of us who live in New Zealand and pay taxes here, or those who post here who pretend to live in New Zealand, and Australia (depending on the argument they are making that day)?

                  Snap McFlock… although now we can add Hungary to his countries of residence.

                  • McFlock

                    a veritable citizen of the world. We should be grateful spylands is giving us hobbits the benefit of his wisdom.

                • Tim

                  @ srylands:

                  “So why do we import thousands of workers from overseas to work in horticulture?”

                  Equally … (well not so equally … more like bullshit artistedly):
                  Why do lightweight educational fly-by-nighter educational institutions advertise in places like India and China, then promise business management ‘degrees’ with guaranteed ‘work experience employment opportunities’ relevant to the qualification gained – which turn out to be picking various crops at minimal/under wage rates, rather than any sort of back- office administrative role?

                  You got it … well you should have because many of the operators are your mates

                  Why then do those institutions that have promised the world (yes … even through international telephone enquiries) pack up shop and go under (once the exorbitant fees have been banked and dispersed, of course).

                  Just as well I know their names aye!

                  Next question.
                  Why, when Key-led trade missions to South America, and next … to places like India amount to SFA!
                  (Just as an aside – there’s another question: Why couldn’t such a South American jaunt understand that a failure to attend a funeral by a country’s leader – on a mission to grovel for a start – would go down like a cup of cold sick).
                  I know the answer to that already – you needn’t bother. The answer is sheer arrogance.

                  But perhaps – in answer to their pathetic little groveling missions fail (or will take forever/or be a bad deal) is because Sth Americans (and next Indians) seem to have a greater concern for their citizenry than does messers Key/Joyce/Nafe-da-man et al.
                  I forget the spanish word for wanker – but we’re now in the 9th month – i.e. 9 months post that little Sth American jaunt after which Key ‘was comfortable as usual, and much was to be gained’


                  Please ….. the Indian mission has not yet happened – but FFS – keep Key and Joyce and their accolytes well away. Learning to say wanker in every foreign language can become rather tedious.
                  Rest assured though – them there Sth Amurrikuns got Key’s number, and if there is to be an Indian mission – I’d suggest it was confined to the south.

                  I’m ekshly looking forward to the next attempt – it’ll be a hoot to watch!

                  • Tim

                    Just in case you didn’t understand all that srylands – So why do we import thousands of workers from overseas to work in horticulture? – We Don’t !! except for maybe a few PI’s (I’m not sure even that programme is still operating).

                    But instead ….. we promise Nirvana to the likes of international students, then we deliver utter shite – whereupon they end up being the ‘imported horticultural workers’ you speak of, and often underpaid/no paid restaurant workers.

                    Go ask a few of them – Go ask their circumstances!. Go ask them how indebted they (and often their families) have become – all for the privilege of ‘studying’ and ‘working’ in New Zealand.

                    Then when you’ve done doing that … don’t wonder why NZ’s reputation has been totally trashed.

                • Foreign Waka

                  Are you ignorant or naive? The workers are paid pittance, a shed is their accommodation (deducted) and bob is your uncle, profit galore!

              • Mike S

                How do you expect an unemployed person to be able to afford to move? How do they find a house to live in in the area of the work? How do they pay the bond and rent in advance on a new rental? How do they pay the moving costs? Will WINZ allow them to move? Are they guaranteed a job if they move? etc,etc,etc

            • bad12

              What David Cunliffe is saying, and i agree with him, is that in places like the Far North or East Coast monies from emissions trading tax will be used to plant marginal lands,

              There are numerous unemployed people in both those provinces who i am willing to bet will fall all over each other to get some of this tree planting work…

          • big bruv

            “Are you suggesting that all the unemployed should abandon what homes in the cities they have and become a band of gypsies following the various horticulture seasons around the countryside,”

            She might not be but I am. If there is “no work” in the area you live then you owe it to yourself and your fellow tax payer to up sticks and move to a place where there is work.

            Certainly if you are a dole bludger and live in an area where there is horticultural work on offer (even if it is seasonal) and refuse to take that work then you should have your benefit stopped immediately.

            • miravox

              She might not be but I am. If there is “no work” in the area you live then you owe it to yourself and your fellow tax payer to up sticks and move to a place where there is work.”

              What? So you (whoever you is) can leave the family behind so you (BB – it’s your style) can call the women ‘DPB slags’ who shouldn’t be breeding? Because a casual horticultural wage is sure not going to pay for the family that’s left behind and any family has bugger all chance of finding a home or ensuring continuity of the kids schooling by following the casual horticultural worker.

              • big bruv


                So you think it is fine for an individual or a family to move to a place where there is no work and then bludge off the tax payer by way of the dole?

                I don’t care how much relocating might upset the family, children adapt, they make new friends and showing ones children that work is an important part of being a productive member of society is part of being a good parent.

                • felix

                  “I don’t care how much relocating might upset the family”

                  Then why would anyone care what you think?

                • miravox

                  “Children adapt,”

                  Depends how many times they have to do that, BB. Pretty sure moving away from family and other social support, plus the sense of dislocation from frequently changing schools is right up there in education non-achievement and social problems.

                  • big bruv


                    That sounds like another invented excuse to me. Plenty of kids move school, city and even countries and cope well with it. The idea that “the kids might not cope” is not good enough to keep paying their parents to sit at home doing nothing.

                    What the left refuse to acknowledge is that seeing a parent leave the house every day to go to work is a powerful message. It matters not what that work is, letting kids know that life is not a free ride (something the left want to offer under achievers in return for their vote) is the most important thing of all.

                    If people really want work, if people really want to better themselves and get off the benefit then they will move, they will take work that might not be what they are trained for or what they ideally want but they will take it.

                    The rest….well they are simply parasites who do not deserve one cent more of my money.

                    • miravox

                      Unless you’re going to actually think, see…

                      It’s about jobs … and social security?

                      And it’s not your money.

                    • felix

                      Bruv, the fact that you acknowledge a total lack of concern for the effect of your ideas (as you admitted above) completely and utterly excludes you from any discussion about improving societal outcomes.

                      Now fuck off back to your cave, by yourself, while the rest of us get on with the job of making people’s lives better, together.

                    • big bruv


                      It is indeed my money. The government steals it from me every fortnight, I do not give it willingly. If they took a more reasonable amount, stopped rewarding feral females for breeding and did something about the thousands of benefit bludgers I might feel slightly better about the unauthorised theft from my account every fortnight.

                    • big bruv


                      You want to make other peoples life’s better?…that is hilarious.

                      If you were genuine you would admit that rewarding losers for doing nothing is not going to improve their lot in life one little bit.

                      But really, it’s just their vote you want.

                    • miravox

                      “stopped rewarding feral females for breeding “


                • Foreign Waka


                  There are studies that can proof that what you propose will create the opposite outcome to what you intend. Whilst you may be OK wandering the continents, not everybody is. Least of all children. And it should be every parent interest that their children are getting the best care and schooling possible. This, more then anything else will ensure that they can lead an independent and productive happy life.

                • felix

                  It makes no difference what you find hilarious bruv.

                  You stated that you don’t care about the people we are discussing and that ends your involvement in the conversation.

            • karol

              Certainly if you are a dole bludger and live in an area where there is horticultural work on offer (even if it is seasonal) and refuse to take that work then you should have your benefit stopped immediately.

              Ah, yes. The old mythologies. [My bold].

              Can you provide any evidence that these mythologies are in fact widespread occurrences, and require strict monitoring and punishing of all beneficiaries – as opposed to the need to improve social security provisions and stop bashing beneficiaries?

              • big bruv


                All one has to do is look at the number of parasites who claim they cannot find work in a place like the Hawkes Bay and then look at the number of horticultural vacancies to see that it is a widespread problem.

                But then, that does not suit your political bias does it.

                • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard

                  @ Big Bruv,

                  Your accusations are rubbish and based on sheer fantasy.

                  Someone on an unemployment benefit would be very hard pushed to continue receiving assistance in an area where seasonal work is available. This is because WINZ do in fact push people into seasonal work. And this is the case regardless of the party in government.

                  Your comments implying that this doesn’t occur are based on nothing but your flawed imagination.

                  Your flawed imagination also leads your statements re looking at the numbers ‘claiming they cannot find work’ to be bunk too. You would be very hard pushed accurately knowing who these people are and what their numbers are unless you hang out in the local WINZ office counting people as they come in, yet then again, this wouldn’t tell you what it is they are coming in for or what type of assistance they are receiving.

                  However, what can be done is observe the drop in unemployment stats when seasonal work is available and this drop shows that many people do pick up work when it is available.

                  It really is time that people such as yourself wake up to what is going on around you and stop basing your views on false ideas and propagating such.

                  It really is ridiculous what you are saying.

                  • Descendant Of Sssmith

                    Most of the need for overseas seasonal workers is an anti-competitive measure.

                    1 Funnily enough the apples on a tree don’t all ripen at once.

                    You see when picking apples there are generally three picks. First and second pick are reasonable money and workers don’t mind that.

                    Third pick the apples are further apart, less of them and you have to get up and down more. It takes longer to fill a bin.

                    So if you are on an orchard doing a third pick and the orchard down the road is doing a first pick (or for that instance paying a higher bin rate) what would you do in a competitive market where you have to feed your family.

                    You’d go work for the orchardist down the road.

                    Having overseas workers indentured stops that.

                    2. Overseas workers are paid differently from NZ workers. When you bring in an overseas worker you must guarantee them 30 hours per week and pay them accordingly. So if there are two days rain this week and no picking thn the NZ workers get no pay and the RSE workers still get paid. The extra is taken out of their pay when they work more than 30 hours.

                    3. Some orchardists used illegal workers in the past often with contractors who paid no PAYE etc. This made bad employing orchardists more competitive than those who played by the rules. The good orchardists were quite rightly upset that they might go bust cause others get away with illegal labour – and at times other things like buying stolen sprays etc on the black market. Stolen off other orchardists. RSE endeavours to reduce the illegal labour by ensuring there is a supply of legal overseas labour.

                    4. Some orchardists get money back by providing accommodation. There was a letter to a newspaper somewhere that suggested one orchadist took $400,000 in accommodation costs out of his overseas workers wages. Certainly helps the bottom line when you can claw the wages back that way. All he needs now is a company store for them to spend their money in.

                    5. Illegal workers generally didn’t go home. These ones the employer must pay for their ticket home – though I gues they take that cost out of their wages as well.

                    In short through all these means NZer’s are denied training and work and a decent wage for a hard job in the hot hot sun.

      • Tim 2.1.2

        “An advertizement consisting of,”Tree planters wanted, no experience necessary, good rates of pay” will provide proof to ALL the Labour Caucus of just how willing the average unemployed person is to take up work anywhere…”

        Let’s hope that ad has an ‘s’ instead of a zeeeee!.
        Enough already!

    • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 2.2


      I accept there is room for concern in the response received, however I do wish to remind you to step back and remember that the most beneficiary bashing party to be in power, without doubt, is National. Labour are always more helpful toward welfare recipients when in Government.

      This is a comparative statement (i.e. “more helpful” doesn’t mean “excellent”, just better than the worse), however it pays to keep this in mind.

      I see a problem for Labour during election-time regarding this issue. It seems that points can be scored amongst those who haven’t experienced unemployment or been in unfortunate circumstances such as being incapacitated to work, points get scored regarding ‘being too generous’ (equating this to “Labour spends too much and gets us into debt”, where ‘debt’ is a pressing concern). It seems to me that left-wing politicians have to navigate this issue carefully, because it really takes more than a ‘sound-byte’ to explain the advantages of looking after those in the least fortunate circumstances, whereas bene-bashing meme’s take no time at all to ‘seed’.

      Anyone openly speaking of wanting to move away from neoliberal memes would address many issues that cause the problems welfare recipients face.

      If a politician categorically states that he is ‘against beneficiary bashing’ then they can be called on this later. ( It is my understanding that is why politicians are notorious for not stating things categorically!) Cunliffe has stated something categorical on this matter and has also expressed the view that neoliberalism is a failure.

      I don’t dismiss your concerns yet am supplying you some reasons why there is some hope that things could change for the better with regard to the truly horrible situation people who are unwell and incapacitated are in at present and what Mr Cunliffe appears to be standing for.

      • weka 2.2.1

        “I accept there is room for concern in the response received, however I do wish to remind you to step back and remember that the most beneficiary bashing party to be in power, without doubt, is National. Labour are always more helpful toward welfare recipients when in Government.”

        Yes and no. I make the argument myself that there are differences between NACT and Labour therefore we are better off with a Labour led govt. But let’s not forget that it was Labour that removed the needs-based hardship grant Special Benefit, and replaced it with a capped benefit that ensures poverty. They also excluded beneficiaries from Working for Families. And then we have Shearer’s roof painting story. None of those things are insignificant. In that sense, while I appreciate Cunliffe would need to side step referring to Labour’s bad history on this, I was looking for an indication that (a) the issues were understood and (b) there was some commitment to change. Cunliffe basically said they will work on employment, he did’t really answer my questions (and he avoided the other similar questions entirely). It’s not a good look.

        I also appreciate that care is needed in this climate of benebashing and fear mongering, but nevertheless I believe that someone who grasps the issues and sees a way forward would be able to communicate that in a general way without scaring the horses. If Labour are moving away from their neoliberal economic past, and Cunliffe is being explicit about this (although the extent is unclear), then why the difficulty with doing the same re welfare.

        When Cunliffe says he is against bene bashing in any shape or form, I believe him. But I’m left unsure of whether he fully appreciates the problem, or whether he believes that people on the dole need to be incentivised, albeit ‘nicely’ by Labour instead of nastily by NACT. Time will tell.

        The Q and A the other day was a chance fo Cunliffe to let people know where he stands, even if he did it in general or subtle terms. He failed to do that IMO.

        • karol

          weka, it seems to me that Robertson and Cunliffe are not straying very far from the current parliamentary Labour policies. Also, is it not the case that the new Labour rules have given more strength to the membership remits being taken up by the caucus?

          I don’t think any major shift from current caucus policies will be done on the hoof during the leadership Roadshow. It needs to be well worked out in terms of the policies and the ways they will be promoted. As Labour Party outsider, I’m thinking that major shifts in social security policies can be initiated at the conference later this year.

          More broadly, I don’t think any of us can sit back and wait for politicians to make all the changes. For the left, there’s much long term work to be done at the flax roots.

          • Olwyn

            I don’t think they can, because of the way Labour Policy is formed. Remember the annoyance when Shearer publicly dumped the “man ban,” on the grounds that it was not his place to dump it? What they are for the most part offering is what they would hope to bring to the leadership, so the wider context in which policy would be formed.

          • weka

            Maybe Karol, but I wasn’t asking Cunliffe about changes to Labour welfare policy. I was asking him about his view on welfare and the current problems (in a Labour context). I wasn’t expecting specific policy announcements, but instead a sense of where he stands. You can see plenty of his comments in that thread on where he stands on other things.

            Agree with your last paragraph 🙂

          • Greywarbler

            Would you size up the focus of the Labour roadshow is to have a Meet and Greet? And to talk about their vision of Labour’s next pathway.

            • karol

              Greywarbler, I’d size up the Roadshow as the opportunity for each contender to put their case for being the next leader of the Labour caucus. There are many factors that could be covered with that aim in mind. I’d say it’s more about stating their underlying values and leadership qualities. General vision could also be part of it, which the contenders have tended to state.

        • beGone Craven Spy Bill leopard

          @ Weka,
          Yes, there is an indication that there might be a lack of awareness of the issues, it really is a little inconclusive though.

          Having reread your original question to Mr Cunliffe, it might be useful to point out that you didn’t actually stipulate that you were talking about sickness/invalids. You made a reference to ‘deserving poor’ which immediately placed in my mind the subject of unemployment rather than sickness. He might have had the same reaction. He could have answered the question in a two-pronged way, addressing unemployed people and also addressing those with varying levels of incapacity, however that he didn’t might indicate that he read your question as being to do with unemployment.

          Despite this the many questions re welfare weren’t answered.

          So, yes there could be a problem there.

          I do suspect, however, you are underestimating the power of the ‘anti-welfare vote point-scoring’. I know, (because I have seen) exactly how quickly (even apparently intelligent) people can hook into the old ‘Left spend too much’ and only a whiff of understanding shown toward any welfare can set it off. As I understand it ‘the Left spend too much’ is entirely wrong and infact our people and economy have historically been a hell of a lot more healthy when the Left are in power, this is the rational argument, however how effectively do rational arguments counteract point-scoring appealing to instinctual/base irrational prejudice? Not very well at all. And this to me is an indication of the power of this [low] way of point scoring.

          If Mr Cunliffe means what he says and gets in and follows through with what he says, I think a whole lot of pressure would be taken off welfare recipients without even having to go into reasonings why welfare is the right thing to do. The problem has been that there are not enough jobs to go around, infact as I understand this state of lack of jobs has been encouraged by the neoliberal meme in order to ‘keep wages and inflation low’. People see adverts in the paper and think there are jobs, yet there are not enough. Once there actually are jobs, and those who can work have jobs, it will be seen that the ‘great unemployed’ was not a case of ‘lazy’ after-all, it was a case of NO JOBS!!! and it would be harder to establish that those remaining needing assistance, with sickness and injury, are lazy-ergo-underserving.

          That is the theory, all-beit sounding rather idealist……

          • weka

            Having reread your original question to Mr Cunliffe, it might be useful to point out that you didn’t actually stipulate that you were talking about sickness/invalids. You made a reference to ‘deserving poor’ which immediately placed in my mind the subject of unemployment rather than sickness. He might have had the same reaction. He could have answered the question in a two-pronged way, addressing unemployed people and also addressing those with varying levels of incapacity, however that he didn’t might indicate that he read your question as being to do with unemployment.

            yeah, nah. If Cunliffe doesn’t understand that the lazy/cheating bene meme applies just as much to sickness beneficiaries as any other beneficiary… well actually, that was my point above. Any time someone talks about beneficiaries as a class as if they were all unemployed, they are tacitly supporting the bene bashing meme, because the meme is so completely enmeshed in the punitive Protestance work ethic.

            My question was designed to avoid having to specificially mention the elephant in the living room that is Shearer’s roof painting speech, but I suppose it is possible that Cunliffe is unwarea of the regard with which that speech is held on ts 😉

            It could of course also be that Cunliffe thinks unemployed beneficiaries are more important than other beneficiaries. I have no idea.

            Re the vote issue, are you arguing that Labour should hide its policy intent re welfare until after the election?

            btw, like Bill below, I don’t believe we will have full employment again in the traditional sense. This is why Cunliffe’s response is problematic.

            • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard

              Yes, I fairly well agreed with Bill’s comment too.

              I think his comment was excellent in the way we need to start adjusting our thinking, something has to adjust in regards to attitudes toward work after the amazing technology boom that appears to have gone by unnoticed by our political approaches toward work.

              The only area where I might diverge from what Bill wrote was that ‘fulltime’ might be redefined as part of that adjustment. People might work less hours in order to allow ALL people to participate in our society. (Therefore it wouldn’t be an end to ‘fulltime’ work)

              With regard to your question re Labour hiding their welfare policy until after the election.

              I have to say, I asked myself the same question after last responding to you! Er….how Machiavellian am I prepared to be?

              No, I wouldn’t say hide, voters need to know the general stance going to be taken, however would I prefer if they played it down if that meant the difference between them getting in or not? Yes I would.

              I think this government is a travesty and its time they were voted out, if people vote Labour down on misinformation propagated by National (and beyond), and people won’t wake up to the fact that its fantasy, then stop the information flow that supplies the basis for that fantasy to be cultivated.

      • beatie 2.2.2

        Remember that it was Labour that appointed Dr David Bratt, (welfare is akin to drug addiction) as Chief Medical Advisor to Winz. Also Labour brought in Regional Health Advisors whose main role appears to be shifting people from the Invalid to Sickness Benefit thus paving the way for the Nats present ‘reforms’

        • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard

          @ Beatie,

          O.k. I have just commented above and then read your comment and I concede.

          In response to what you write I do see that it needs to be clarified whether the type of approach you describe is going to be persevered with by Labour. Such approaches stink and I wouldn’t vote for a party who is simply going to ‘keep the seat warm for the Nats’.

          If Mr Cunliffe means to follow a move away from neoliberalism, however, Labour could not possibly remain a ‘seat warmer’ for Nats

          Doubt whether a Labour leader candidate is in a position to confirm the issues you raise, however, because they in the realms of the nitty gritty that the Party needs to agree upon. (although I note that Weka was seeking a general attitude – which can be achieved by leader candidates)

          • weka

            It’s interesting to consider whether Cunliffe can move Labour left economically but still retain the substance of the Clark govt welfare policy.

        • Murray Olsen

          Beatie, this is exactly why I hope Mana/Greens can get enough seats to stop Labour pulling this sort of crap. A Cunliffe led government will be as weak or as strong as the proportion of coalition partners allows or forces it to be. Thank god for MMP, because Labour by itself would still be as blue as a Tory’s face during an asphyxiation session.

    • Mary 2.3

      I wasn’t left confident, either. His reference to “intensive case management” was the give away. “Case management” and the language surrounding it, as far as social security benefits in New Zealand go, grew from the beneficiary as “customer”, benefits as “products”, Social Welfare Department as “business” approach of the early 1990s where customer+products+business=choice, which supports “unemployment is the individual’s fault” followed by “but with our help we can fix “them” and make “them” productive again. All of a sudden people at the receiving end of a structural problem become “cases” to “managed”. Foucault would have a field day.

      This might be harsh and I’m sure David’s a busy man at the moment but I do not have any confidence in Labour wanting to do anything majorly different to what it was doing when last in government. Hope and energy must be put towards a strong Green/Mana showing in 2014. Part of that will involve making sure we convey a clear and accurate message that Labour is not prepared to fix social security for the poorest of the poor and that if we are going to make progress in this area then people must vote Green and Mana.

      • weka 2.3.1

        The irony is that WINZ have never actually had proper case management. They call their front line staff case managers, but it’s rare for there to be the kind of relationship develop that would constitute real case management. That’s the benefit side, maybe the work side has been better. I remember the Labour Dept mid 80s, their interviews to get yoof work ready. I wouldn’t even call that case management (it was more data entry in the computer).

        As for DC, I’m cautiously optimistic in that I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect he will shift things enough in general so that the culture within Labour has a chance of changing and perhaps moving politics in NZ to the left again. He doesn’t have to make that happen, he just has to open the door.

        • Mary

          “The irony is that WINZ have never actually had proper case management.”

          Yes, that’s very true. The closest it really got was to say that every person in all their dealings with the department must see only “their” very own “customer service officer”, soon changed to “case manager”. This one-on-one approach see-sawed a bit over the years and nothing too overtly different happened, but very significantly it did represent the abandonment of “public servant/basic grade/clerk 101/bureaucrat”, a crucial move for the neo-liberal agenda.

          What’s very different about these latest attacks on the poor, though, is that they are very real. The kicking machine is dealing to people severely this time around. We can expect some horror stories to emerge fairly shorty like we saw post 1991 – more people sleeping in cars and abandoned buildings, in ditches etc. That’s what we saw as a result of 26-week stand down introduced in 1991. The severity of what that did forced even Shipley to water the sanctions down. This won’t happen this time around because Bennett et al have the climate on their side. The only hope we have to water things down this time is Greens and Mana being strong enough within a coalition to put the brakes on Labour.

          • weka

            I hope the GP can really pull one out of the hat next year. They have to get past that election slump.

            “customer service officer”

            lolz, I’d forgotten about that.

    • stargazer 2.4

      weka, in hamilton, david was the only one who talked about benefit levels and the need to raise them. and i was the only one in a packed room who clapped when he said it. sad really. it wasn’t in response to a question on benefits (there weren’t any), but at the end of a response to something else.

  3. Bill 3

    I know it’s some way off, but the storyline we tend to believe and pass on – that having a job is the only or principle path to becoming a ‘worthy’ person and that a good job or successful career is the ‘correct’ way to be legitimately recognised as a worthy person by society at large – this has to be torn up and thrown away.

    ‘A penny for you thoughts, time, physical labour – your life‘ capitalism will never again be able to offer full employment rates (no loss from my political perspective). The effects of AGW, peak resources and the financialisation of the market being just some of the reasons why.

    So…time to drop the various levels of persecution, both financial and psychological, that are meted out to those who are not chasing the $ and value their current (often legislatively limited) contributions to society while opening up avenues for further contribution.

    Political parties seem to be inherently conservative, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t encourage the first tentative steps down a necessary future path that embraces less insanity and more humanity and that may offer at least some long term prospects in terms of a sustainable society/culture/economy/civilisation.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Major political parties are inherently conservative because they each rely on the sustenance and continuation of the status quo hierarchy of power, to a greater or lesser extent. No major political party will act to undermine the system it relies upon to hold power.

      But of course, you already know this.

  4. just saying 4

    I’m always impressed by your equanimity, Karol. We just need to keep pushing forward one step at a time, I know, but my voting papers are still on the bench because I don’t believe any of the three have any real intention of moving beyond business as usual. Just more well-off pakeha looking out for their own tribe while being servile in the service of the elite. Everything else seems to me to be mere rehtorical flourish.

    I started out with some optimism as the leadership contest began. Now, Bomber’s horse-race style calling as it progresses seems appropriate.

    • karol 4.1

      Thanks, js.

      Of the 3 contenders, I still back Cunliffe. Of the 3, he looks the one most likely to start moving the government away from neoliberalism, back to traditional Labour values. And he’s the one most capable of taking on John Key, as well as the reactionary forces in the media.

      However, I’m not under any illusion that the struggle stops with the election of a Cunliffe-led government. Democracy is an on-going process, and the left will always need it’s rank and file flax roots activists, and community-based workers.

      There’s now such a media-led entrenched anti-beneficiary discourse, it’s going to take a lot of ground work from within the wider community to turn that around.

      • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 4.1.1

        @ Karol,

        Wasn’t the beneficiary bashing meme initiated by governments? I agree that it is now entrenched in the media, however, I believe it started in the corridors of power.

        • weka

          I’ve been wondering about that lately. It didn’t exist in the early 80s, but was very strong by the end of the 80s. Was that just a consequence of the big increase in the unemployment rate, or was it a deliberate strategy? I’ve heard hints that it was the latter, but haven’t seen anything to back that up.

        • karol

          I agree that the bennie bashing meme probably started, or at least was strongly fueled from governments and other power elites. However, neoliberalism has always come from above. They also enlisted the power of the corporate media – a multi-dimensional onslaught on left wing gains during the 20th century.

          The strength of the left is in the collective organisation and pressure from the “masses”.

          Cunliffe, drawing a line and saying “enough of this bennie-bashing”, could be a helpful step away from the destructive “war on the poor”. But it will never be enough on its own.

          • Belladonna

            I was disappointed in David Cunliffe’s response or lack of it regarding beneficiaries and those on superannuation. I have heard nothing from Labour that will ensure my vote (or letterbox stuffing) at the next election. My intention at this stage is to vote Greens even though my political home is really with Labour. Nothing much seems to have changed, what a let down.

            • weka

              I’m being critical of Cunliffe’s answer this week, but really the time for putting him to the test on welfare is if he becomes leader.

              • Colonial Viper

                Absolutely. A lot of pressure and a lot of questions about the treatment of beneficiaries to a Cunliffe led Labour Party will be expected, and required. I for one will be pushing damn hard that a new approach be taken – both in terms of PR, and in terms of reality – for how Labour must treat beneficiaries as (most of them are) fully fledged and first class citizens of Aotearoa.

            • Rodel

              And you will end up with Key and co as your government again

        • tc

          ‘I agree that it is now entrenched in the media..’

          Remember the MSM is where the Ruling Class (murdoch, FearFacts, granny, mediawonks etc) tell the middle class it’s the lower classes fault using elves and sprites like Oshillivan/Smellstrong/gluon/ratboy/jono etc and the dogwhistlers in radiorant land.

    • Mary 4.2

      And I think that David Cunliffe not coming back to address the many questions and comments along the lines of what you’ve said suggests that he knows what you’re saying is correct. Sure, he’s no doubt very busy, and he might just be trying to find the time to respond. My guess, though, is that…well…I don’t know.

      • karol 4.2.1

        The optimistic explanation is that he’s pondering on the best way to work towards improved social security, given that the dominant discourse is anti-beneficiaries.

        But, time will tell…

  5. Clement Pinto 5

    I admire Mai Chen as a great Kiwi. She has a great perspective on law and politics.

    She will make an excellent future Governor General or President of NZ :

    The others worthy of holding such high office are:

    Geoffery Palmer
    Dame Anne Salmond

    Any one else creditable and truly deserving?

  6. just saying 6

    Yeah, but to have serious concern expressed by a significant number fobbed-off like that.

    We’ve got our work cut out if we can expect no help from Labour.

    Sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to Karol at 4.1

    • karol 6.1

      I think that Parliamentary Labour will help with the resurrection of social security if there is enough pressure on them to do so from their members and the wider community.

      There’s a lesson to be learned from the “neoliberal” revolution. It was never just the result of parliamentary initiatives, but of a raft of initiatives from various entities outside government.

  7. Core_Labour_Voter 7

    The Northland list MP unleashed a very personal attack on the Prime Minister.

    “I’m going to tie a bungy cord around a sensitive spot, and then I’m going to get those callipers and cut them, and then the mercenary of capitalism can suffer what he deserves – a dead cat bounce.”

    I hope there is still some political and human decency left in this Labour candidate. Attack the policies and not the man. Don’t talk rubbish like this. Maintain some decency, otherwise people are going to walk further away from Labour. I have never heard Helen Clark or Cullen talk rubbish like this.

  8. Blue 8

    “Don Brash is a cancer” ring any bells ? Attacks on the current PM, Helen Clark in the past , and others from both sudes kf the house are and have been the norm, sadly. I agree its infantile and a characteristic of the emotionally stunted. But if people choose to frame their political arguments on looks, obesity, sexuality, gender, language etc. it reflects more on themselves than on the target. It’s just so boring.

  9. charles kinbote 9

    its great Shane you keep on with the drivel hatred, it smears David Cunliffe as well. The lurch to the left and the promises are great, middle New Zealand will have nothing of a Julia Gillard Cunliffe leader, arrogant, pompous, and who has to decimate half of those around him, yes keep up the War., fighting like street dogs , sending out hopeless sad promises , I can see another two terms of NZ Nat

    • karol 9.1

      Charles, do you have anything to say about jobs and social security – or the policies promoted by Cunliffe and Robertson? This thread is not about Jones’ smears.

  10. Ennui 10

    Nice article Karol, but to be a complete pain I am going to make a blanket statement….No amount of legislation or intervention into working conditions is going to help with wages.OR deliver social security!

    Our economy is beyond magic want treatment to generate wages and tax revenue to pay for welfare, health and education. That is because we don’t, repeat don’t make anything much here, to sell offshore or to substitute against imports. And we import cheap stuff from cheap wage countries.

    So lets talk about work: Productive work that generates money in sales of added value is what underpins all expenditure in our economy. It pays wages, taxes, and lets not forget interest on capital that makes the investment in factories, plant etc possible. Then we need to consider profit, because, as an employer I for one would not risk my capital just to be a nice type who provides cosy conditions for another person to work and have an income. Employment is a mere balance sheet item, as are the associated terms and conditions (they all have a cost). Security…for my workers again is a balance sheet item.

    These things are very inconvenient for a socialist viewpoint: somewhere for jobs to exist somebody (or something, maybe the state) has to make a risk versus return judgement and take the plunge. The issue facing Labour is that they are promoting a fair and inclusive society with security and jobs…..they will if they are to deliver need to find some way of persuading people to take a risk and invest in productive enterprise.

    • Greywarbler 10.1


    • Rogue Trooper 10.2

      on the economy in general-
      Fallow -“multiple Turns of The Screw, over several years may be required ” (to slow the housing market)
      -as capital flow ebbs from emerging markets, “not particularly helpful” -Bollard
      -and “NZ may experience another recession” on the tail of world markets-Shamubeel Eaqub.

      Anyway, talk about “the sky is falling”! How dare the assumptions and blindness of the Neoliberal consensus be challenged from the Left! It just won’t do!

    • Foreign Waka 10.3

      Business growth needs sales growth, this in turn needs increased market share. NZ is very isolated and the only branch of export not generating expenses is IT. We are not attracting people that are innovators, look at the comments from expats. The policies of the last decade have initiated a downward spiral that will only come to a hold when it hits rock bottom. Too much money is being squandered on political promises to appease a few at the expense of the many. Basic education is not really reaching every child. 30% of Uni students were functionally illiterate some years back, god knows how many there are now. We encourage thousands of education places for accountants and layers who will do even more damage as they seek to “employ” them self but have all but abandoned trade apprenticeship. Too expensive you see, profit may suffer.
      NZ needs to convert their raw material into export goods (value added) but this is too much “work” for the profit hungry. This has been encouraged by successive governments, so there is no labour movement other then the one to the vineyards and apple trees for seasonal work. Even Nero knew, give the masses bread, wine and gambling and nothing will stop you. Low and behold, we have minimum wage, plenty of alcohol and even more gambling machines.
      Is anybody really expecting that the fundamental change that is needed will come from the average person of little means? Those who can afford to leave will go overseas.
      Now as a business person, what do you suggest will turn the tide? What does social justice mean and in a small country like NZ how do you create a balanced and productive environment that earns money not speculates it?

      • Ennui 10.3.1

        Nice diagnosis Foreign Waka, so what do I suggest we business people do? First up rid me of price competition based upon wage rates…so some easy things we could do:

        * compulsory unions: no more pandering to individuals, no undercutting because you can dumb down wages. And bring back arbitration to get rid of belligerent employers and unions.
        * tariff barriers against imports from low wage economies…I am sick of our social costs being short changed by capital who bugger off offshore and leave us to pay the social cost.
        * reintroduce DSIR and MAF as research bodies associated to primary industries.
        * transform MFAT from a diplomatic gravy train into an effective fair trade seeking body…and reject all so called “free trade” agreements.
        * reintroduce trade certifications in real basics (hands on plumbing, electrician etc etc) and funded apprenticeships…..and slash university courses that are “meal ticket” orientated. They should live in their proper place, what we used to call Techs.

        Looks a lot like the 70s and before. What my generation had then was a hell of a lot better than my children face today.

  11. Tracey 11

    Labour actually oversaw quite the inquiry into welfare fraud and in Ruth Dyson’s case moved to make all sickness beneficiaries be re-tested for work capability, even if their disability was, say, cerebral palsy, for which no cure had transpired since the people were put on sickness benefits.

    So let’s not pretend Labour has always been the beneficiaries close and good friend. They had neo lib policies which required a neo lib agenda of pandering to the bene bashing meme.

  12. tracey 12

    Good post ennui.

    in the crowing about the econony’s ranking on business yesterday many overlooked where we are failing


    imo two areas we have to be smarter than others to create careers for young people.

  13. tracey 13

    Cunliffe may not speak of legislating living wage but he reported as saying

    “The Labour government that I lead will drive economic development in all our regions.”He reiterated his commitment to a living wage and said he would implement it within 100 days of taking office. Cunliffe also announced his commitment to an urgent inquiry into safety standards in the forestry industry. He pledged to get Government off the sideline and “into the game”

  14. Clement Pinto 14

    Keep your fingers crossed that she won’t sue you for that character defamation statement.

    • Jimbo 14.1

      I’d like to see her try. Truth is an absolute defense against defamation.

      [karol: nevertheless, I’ve sent it to moderation to get a moderator’s opinion on it – pays to be careful ]

      [lprent: Good call. It makes statements of fact (rather than statements of opinion) about a non-politician without any substantiation from elsewhere. That means that Jimbo carries the legal can for it, but also drags us in legally on something that we have no knowledge about. We’d have to rely entirely on someone that we have no basis for knowing if they know anything.

      Trashed it. ]

      • karol 14.1.1

        Always a good idea to be careful what you say about a lawyer.

        • Frida

          Karol, it would be good, however, if sometimes the MSM (and blogs) would stop hero-worshipping Mai Chen. She is the [deleted]. It is very hard for [deleted] (and there are many of us out there) to read constant hero-worshipping of her.

          [karol: Frida, see Lynn’s decision above and his reasons. Arguing against hero-worshipping her could possibly be based on her verifiable public statements and views, which would be entirely acceptable]

          • bad12

            ”She is the sort of bullying employer that the left should despise”??? have you got a shred of evidence to support such a claim, if so i would suggest you provide such evidence…

            • Frida

              Yes as I’ve said, just my own experience and the experience of the dozens of others who have worked there. But I give up. You continue to be sucked in if you like. And those of us who have actually worked for her will continue to know the truth (and hope that one day it all comes out).

              • Tracey

                Over 20 years ago I worked for a small firm ( BUT BIG CHARGE-OUT RATES) in Auckland on Queens Street. Two highly regarded partners. I became unwell. I obtained a sickness certificate from my doctor recommending 2 months leave. I presented it and was told that they couldn’t hold my job that long and couldn’t pay me that long, so I either came back to work or left. I was ill (AND YOUNG), and hardly in a position to fight back. So I resigned. I am just making the point that people ought not assume lawyers will always apply the law and that taking a claim against them is always an option.

                I DO agree people need proof, no matter how hard it can be to get it sometimes..

              • bad12

                So you claim to have ‘proof’ of your assertions, how about a successful Employment Disputes Tribunal decision in your favor…

                • Jimbo

                  People don’t always want to take an employer to court, particularly someone like Mai Chen who could make their life and their career very difficult if she wanted to. I’d strongly suggest you talk to some people who’ve worked at Chen Palmer before rushing to Mai’s defence.

                  • karol

                    It’s not about defending her. It’s about the legal implications for this blog and its managers that result from allowing such unverified statements.

                    Now, please could everyone get back to the topic of this post?

                    • Murray Olsen

                      Oops, sorry. I made my last post before I saw you asking us to get back on topic, karol.
                      Doing that: one thing that does worry me about Cunliffe’s answer to the beneficiary question is that working intensively with the unemployed person puts all the emphasis on them. In that sense, it’s the same approach as that taken by Paula Benefat. It’s not their fault that there aren’t enough jobs. Our economy needs structural changes and brave decisions need to be made, but it’s a long time since I’ve seen any politician label a decision brave that does anything except attack the poor.

                      However, I still trust him a bit more to do something meaningful than I trust Robertson, and Jones’s answer might well be to give everyone “work experience” with Sealords.

                    • Anne []

                      Oops, sorry. I made my last post before I saw you asking us to get back on topic, karol

                      Yes, I did the same thing Murray Olsen but never mind no harm done.

                • McFlock

                  or anyone’s favour, not necessarily the author’s

              • Chris

                The IHC’s head office in Wellington is exactly the same. I now know five people who’ve all had fairly high level jobs who’ve left there because of bullying. An NGO adopting a corporate culture gone mad. One even described the management arrangement there as cult-like. Pretty hard to believe about a group that helps disabled people but I’ve got no reason to think what I’ve heard isn’t true.

        • Clement Pinto

          Especially one who is well respected around the country and the judiciary circles, with great mana, highly intelligent, leaned and very clued on in social, legal and constitutional matters.

          • Frida

            “and the judiciary circles”

            Wouldn’t be so sure about that. Sorry. Not meaning to hijack the thread but you really need to talk to some people Clement. What you see on the TV is not always reality.

            • Clement Pinto

              Why didn’t you take her to court if she dismissed you unfairly, instead of bad mouthing her here?

              • Frida

                How do you know I didn’t?

                And, she didn’t dismiss me. I walked. Like many many many others (do some research)

              • Jimbo

                Talk to some people who’ve worked for Mai Chen. You’ll find it very hard to find anyone who’s got a good word to say about her.

              • Tracey

                How many times have you pursued an alleged bullying employer in the employment court who is regarded publicly as a fine person Clement?

                I’m not saying ppeople online should bad-mouth people BUT let’s not over-simplify bringing charges of unjustified dismissal against a bullying employer.

            • Anne

              My observation of Ms Chen is that she enjoys sitting on the political fence to such a degree that her contributions to political or semi political debate – while sounding impressive to the untutored ear – are largely devoid of real substance. She comes across to me as lacking true genuine feelings.

              Call it female intuition if you like.

              • Murray Olsen

                I share your female intuition on this one, Anne. I always get the feeling that she wants to write something that looks impressive in terms of style rather than substance. However, I will accept that I know buggerall about the law.

                • karol

                  I have no problem with people critiquing things Chen has written or said on the topic of this post – especially employment and social security issues. She can seem quite right wing to me, but not so much in the quoted article.

          • Tracey

            you mean like Dr Morgan Fahey was well respected around the country and in social circles, including judges, with great mana, and high intelligence etc etc…and therefore could never have been a sexual pervert?

            Note : I am not saying Mai Chen is a sexual pervert, I am saying that public personna and private and workplace personnas can be quite different.

            Ihave no idea about Ms Chen’s behaviour as an employer, I do know from my own experience in law firms that bullies abound amongst partners in that profession.

    • Tracey 14.2

      my money is on Ms Chen NOT suing for defamation and not even knowing the statement was made.

  15. Frida 15

    What Jimbo said. Speaking from first hand experience.

  16. Jimbo 16

    Seeing as my comment has been deleted, can I say that in my opinion Mai Chen’s employment practices leave a lot to be desired?

    [lprent: We always welcome most opinions. Unless of course it is directed at the site or authors (people doing that can find another place to do that unseemly act in).

    It is the statements of fact that are the legal problem. The Lange vs Atkinson gives a much wider range in the public interest when it comes to political figures. But that doesn’t apply to private citizens, even those in the public eye. ]

  17. There has been a lesser focus on the need to end the latest Key government rounds of beneficiary bashing.

    That’s because no Labour leadership candidate will want to become propaganda poster boy for the relentless growth in NZ’s population of unemployable wasters. Social security would just be an electoral millstone around a candidate’s neck, in the absence of a plausible way to both improve it AND to reduce the waster population.

    • Tracey 17.1

      “relentless growth in NZ’s population of unemployable wasters.”

      Could you link to the graph that supports this?

      • Psycho Milt 17.1.1

        Inexplicably, MSD has consistently neglected to include an Unemployable Waster category in its data collection (those damn bureaucrats!). The increase in the waster population is something that can only be inferred from the fact that we’ve spent the past 30 or 40 years with wasters producing anything from 4 to 13 offspring with a generation gap of 16-18 years, and people with a bit of self-respect turning out 1 to 3 with a generation gap closer to 30. Unfortunately for any Labour leadership candidate wanting to extend social security, the general public is entirely capable of making that inference, and does.

        • Crunchtime

          Blaming youths for their state of unemployment is irresponsible and immature.

          I’m sure Labour has some better solutions for full employment than writing unemployed youth off as “wasters”. Training schemes were working well in the previous Labour govt until the Nats axed them. One of the first things I expect Labour to be doing is reinstating youth training and apprenticeships schemes to get youths off their butts, learning some skills and earning something while they do so.

          • Psycho Milt

            That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? “Unemployed youth” isn’t a synonym for “unemployable waster,” I’ll have you know.

            • karol

              Focus on the undeserving poor “unemployable wasters” is a distraction from the issue. The people who are unable to do regular paid employment are a minority, and when there is sufficient employment on offer, the numbers on benefit drop significantly.

              More worrying are the highly paid wasters who siphon off profits at the expense of poorly paid workers.

              • Well yes, “focusing” on them wouldn’t be very helpful. But pretending they aren’t a problem wouldn’t be very helpful either. A candidate promising to make living on a benefit more comfortable while not mentioning any plans to address the unemployable waster problem is releasing high-grade voter repellent.

  18. JoshL 18

    I can’t comment on the person in question, but if an employer is a bully, it is not that easy to do something about it. And much easier to just leave and get another job. There is such a justifiable fear that you will get a reputation as a trouble-maker, and especially in the professions with people ambitious to be promoted.

    • Rhinocrates 18.2

      I’m rather ambivalent…

      “it’s not that easy to do something about it”

      From my experience working for Massey University, which has a culture that supports bullies (which Vice Chancellor Maharey, ex Labour MP and supposed champion of the workers is quite happy to let continue), there’s NOTHING you can do about them, but you should keep notes and keep in contact with your union representative constantly. Then you could have a legal case to scare the scum.

      “And much easier to just leave and get another job.”

      Um, those jobs don’t actually exist.

      That said, I don’t regret leaving with my large but soon depleted out-of-court settlement for a second, no matter how hard life has been since.

      “There is such a justifiable fear that you will get a reputation as a trouble-maker, and especially in the professions with people ambitious to be promoted.”

      Or just tenure… not that tenure exists now either. The “middle class” doesn’t exist anymore – we’re the precariat.

  19. Tracey 19

    Frida, perhaps describe the kind of behaviour, without reference to the employer to help others who may find themselves in a similar position to stand up against it.

  20. Tracey 20

    How does a business like this get to keep their contract? If some subbies hadnt gone to the media after the announcement of $100m to Chorus this appalling behaviour would have continued.

    So the company has had use of the money for months after it should have been paid out, I hope they are paying interest to the subbies. BUT what clauses in their contract can punish/deter such behaviour? Probably none.

    “Transfield Services, the Australian company hired to roll the ultra-fast broadband network across much of New Zealand, says it is taking action to pay its New Zealand subcontractors, some of whom have not received any money for months.

    The company said it was taking steps to make any remaining outstanding payments within the next two business days.

    “Our subcontractors are important to us,” chief executive of Transfield’s infrastructure division Nicholas Yates said in a statement.

    “We apologise for the disruption caused by payment problems, and we’re concerned and disappointed that it has escalated to this level.”

    Mr Yates said the company had paid about a third of the total amount owed to its New Zealand subcontractors, some of whom this week revealed they were owed in excess of $1 million after not being paid for three months.”

  21. Tracey 21

    In fairness part of the post seems to be about improvements in pay and workers’ rights and Mai Chen’s assessment of that, so some people seemed to point out the irony… admittedly they may not have expressed it in the best (legal) way.

  22. Crunchtime 22

    “Hero-worshipping” is hardly what’s going on here. She wrote an article, Karol has written an article referencing Chen’s article. It’s interesting that Chen is taking this perspective… I’ve heard her on Nat Radio in the past doing similar things: “when I was young, it was really hard” blah blah, usually implying that she pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and made herself into a huge success story. Which is directly at odds with a lot of her political views which are quite right wing, and she’s quite comfortable with her views being very contradictory because she’s a lawyer and can argue anything. Even with herself.

    Yeah… It’s nice that she wrote that article, it’s interesting as a starter for Cunliffe’s aspirations to Savage’s policies.

    But I’d suggest it’s probably not a good idea to make a habit of big Mai Chen quotes 😉

    • karol 22.1

      yes, I agree that Chen often takes a right wing position. She does provide some useful legal views and knowledgeable background to some issues.

  23. McFlock 23

    Personally, I’ve always thought of employment as one of the most significant factors in social welfare.

    I regard the right to full time work that pays a living wage (and the right to work only full time, not 80-hour weeks) as the key to solving the bulk of social welfare problems beyond health and education. It won’t by itself solve everyone’s problems, but it’ll get over the hump for most of them. With full employment policies from government we’d all be a damned sight better off.

    Yes, there are major problems with how we regard and treat people with chronic conditions in this country, and caregivers. But the main problem the next government needs to address in employment, and really put 170,000 people back into work.

    • karol 23.1

      I think there’s something in that, McFlock. It certainly will help with social security policies if the job and employment rights situation is improved. The two should still be part of a broader approach to create a fairer, more inclusive and more equal socitey.

    • beGone Craven Spy Bill leopard 23.2

      +1 McFlock
      I thoroughly agree

      • karol 23.2.1

        Yes, but even with an improvement in the job situation, I doubt the right wing and corporate media will drop their bennie-bashing strategy. It’s something they use to spread divisions and play on people’s insecurities, and to attack left wing government policies.

        And if the next government is Labour led they will come under strong pressure to continue demonising beneficiaries.

        That is why I will still continue to party vote Green (or Mana).

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