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Key’s Banana Republic?

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, October 27th, 2010 - 36 comments
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So the question is: will John Key turn us into a tin-pot banana republic by changing employment law to suit Warners, and make one movie?

Are we going to change our laws, and remove protections every time a company demands it to invest in Aotearoa?

Resource Management Act, Bill of Rights – how much is too much for a project that actually makes money for the country?

Don’t underestimate how large an impact these labour law changes could have.  Already it is far too easy for employees to be designated ‘independent contractors’ – just ask Telecom engineers or anyone in the entertainment industry.  If you liberalise it further tens of thousands of kiwis could have their companies decide they no longer want to pay for holidays (statutory and annual), sick pay, ACC, kiwisaver…  All the employment protections we’ve fought since the foundation of our country to get.

So John Key: government for the people, or for any multinational that asks for it?

36 comments on “Key’s Banana Republic? ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Bet you he makes any such law change sweeping and comprehensive, and not limited to The Hobbit as a project or for the duration of the filming of the Hobbit.

    And by the way, what is making industrial action during the filming of the Hobbit illegal going to achieve?

    If the actors go on strike on set and stop production, is Jonkey going to charge them with a crime and then lock them up for a month?


    • rich 1.1

      I heard Warner’s ask was to have press gangs roam the streets of Wellington conscripting anyone who looks useful.

      Apparently Uzbekistan had no problem with this and NZ needs to compete on that basis.

  2. Carol 2

    It’s good to hear such measured comments coming from Helen Kelly and Trevor Mallard on Nat Rad this morning. None of the hyped up emotion and scaremenongering of Key & PJ, and just making some serious critical comments on the nature of possible law changes and their impacts. eg Mallard points out the law so far seems to have worked fine.

    Let’s hope some of the MSM pick up on the critical examination of what is being proposed.

    • Jum 2.1

      I believe your comments on this blog are superb Carol, but please change the ‘Nat Rad’. This is an affront to left leaning supporters in my area. The correct term is Radio NZ. I know that NAct is trying to turn it into another National mouthpiece like Breakfast and the factional news, but not here, please.

      • Carol 2.1.1

        Sorry, Jum. I hadn’t realised the implications of the abbreviation. I always prefered the name National Radio & never like the faux-commercial attempt at rebranding that went with the shift to Radio NZ National.

    • Vicky32 2.2

      Morning Report was saying measured things, to my delight! (I don’t know who the guys are, but their scepticism about the need for labour law changes was very refreshing.)

  3. Apparently, they’re looking at using the ‘major event’ powers in the Rugby World Cup Empowering Act to suspend the court judgment that recognised contractors can have the rights of employees if they are, in fact, working as employees.

    Madness. That’s ultra vires and an attack on the separation of powers.

    • Bunji 3.1

      So that’s why they had to give themselves far too much power for the Rugby World Cup?

    • burt 3.2

      That’s ultra vires and an attack on the separation of powers.

      Which was clapped and cheered when Labour decided that parliament had the right to determine if parliament had broken the law. Who’s needs a separation of powers when the red team reputation is on the line eh.

    • insider 3.3

      can’t be uv by definition if it is in an act. Courts can’t cast down a law like the US.

  4. Bunji 4

    Hmm, just a thought – some of the first people who would be easily lined up as ‘independent contractors’ if there’s any liberalisation at all would probably be journalists, they’re in a prime position to be judged so.

    So journos: wake up to this story, if only for naked self-interest.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      nice…this should definitely be pushed.

    • burt 4.2

      I though all journalists wanted was a tax cut ! It would seem being independent contractors would be in their interest. But hey, that being the case we need to make sure it can’t happen or they might not join the union and pay for the union bosses XR8.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        burt, XR8’s are shit. And you can get one a couple of years old for what, $25K. Meh.

        Time for you to lift your sights up and aspire to the corporate boss and his new X7.

      • felix 4.2.2

        I love how in burt’s world unions exist to enrich a tiny privileged elite and hurt working people.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    Mr Floppy is likely to do whatever he can get away with. He is already scapegoating all unions at every sound bite. Until this morning he has avoided RNZ, and todays brief genuine interview appeared to be on location. What a gutless guy, leader in title only.

    “is Jonkey going to charge them with a crime and then lock them up for a month?”

    Sedition was taken off the statutes several years back, but with a certain bunch of film workers viewing the unionised actors as virtually comitting treason for not eating the Weta/Three foot six brand of shit sandwiches that they are munching on, maybe it will be back! It is getting to that level of mania.

  6. Bill 6

    It’s been a few years…But in the book (not the film) ,was it Wormtongue who turned ‘The Shire’ into a sweatshop/slave plantation while Frodo was off doing the ring thing necessitating the ‘little people’ liberating their home from a burned out tin pot overlord towards the end of the book, after having already taken care of the main man?

    Is life imitating art to a degree perhaps?

    Clouds of half formed irony hover on the edges of my mind. Busy. So must leave them there for now.

  7. Blighty 7

    great comment on the Herald your views:

    “Susan (New Zealand)
    09:20AM Wednesday, 27 Oct 2010
    I don’t think it goes far enough. Let’s declare martial law for the duration of The Hobbit productions so that any and all New Zealanders can be required to do whatever they want for however much they want to pay. A law that denies only film workers their legal rights clearly isn’t sufficient.

    I don’t know where Warner Brothers would anywhere else get the kind of assurances they’ve already gotten from New Zealand. In case we’re not paying attention to what’s happening elsewhere, there is industrial action going on in countries all over the world. They face that possibility wherever they go.

    And they know that. They also know that it’s a great bargaining chip to get further financial incentives from the government. Huge corporations don’t get huge without knowing how to drive a hard bargain.”

    • nzfp 7.1

      A law that denies only film workers their legal rights clearly isn’t sufficient.

      It’s almost the foreshore and seabed act – repacked for actors and film workers.

      Does this make us a fascist state now?

  8. stever 8

    And yet, once again, we are amongst the least corrupt countries in the world.

    See here.

    I wonder what the definition of “corruption” used in these surveys is? A rather narrow one, it seems.

    • Blighty 8.1

      I note we’ve dropped a notch in the score (9.4 to 9.3) even though we’ve retained the same rank.

    • jbanks 8.2


      [lprent: Don’t SHOUT or I’ll give you a time to ponder why it is irritating… ]

  9. Tammy Gordon 9

    Breaking news: Roman Polanksi expresses interest in filming in NZ. Key commits to lowering age of consent to 13.

  10. rich 10

    (like) ++

    Can you tweet that so I can retweet it Tammy?

  11. Tammy Gordon 11

    Rich, you’re asking for a level of social networking that’s beyond me, sorry!

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    Idiot/Savant take on it over @ NRT

    If OTOH its a broader change, then what Key is actually suggesting is giving employers the power to opt out of the protections of employment law (including the minimum wage, holidays and sick leave, union rights and grievance provisions) entirely, simply by arbitrarily designating workers as “independent contractors”.

    More moves by NACT to lower wages as promised.

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