Labour and the unions

Written By: - Date published: 8:26 am, November 19th, 2014 - 109 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, labour, leadership, Unions - Tags:

Labour’s leadership contest boiled down to Robertson vs Little. Little represents the unions, in a sense “old Labour”. Robertson projected a more modern, urban image, and very literally represented Young Labour.

We the Party have chosen, by the very narrowest of margins, the old Labour / union path. In my usual dithering way I have mixed feelings about this. Some argue that the time of the unions (in a political sense) is over, that a modern Labour needs to move on. On the other hand some argue that Labour should be true to its roots, and ask exactly what a “modern” Labour Party would stand for.

Either way the path is chosen and we will all support the new leader. It is both an opportunity and an obligation for the unions. They have their man as leader, that’s an opportunity. Now they need to support the Labour Party and grow the labour movement – that’s an obligation! The Nats have always hated unions and will continue to attack them – that needs to be countered.

Little says the 2017 campaign starts now. I expect to see plenty of action from both the Party and the unions. I expect to see a big effort to reach out to Young Labour – they are the future of the Party. I hope, truly hope to see the best of both worlds, a modern active labour movement aligned with a renewed and vigorous Labour Party, and a great result in 2017!

109 comments on “Labour and the unions”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    Old Labour Modern Labour narrative = Bullshit.
    Labour need more than just meaningless one line Narratives its time to get organised in order to win. Personally I don’t think Labour has had a decent strategy for the last 9 years. I am looking forward to a campaign that starts early rather than late Im looking forward to Little challenging Key and Nationals bieber political assertions enabled by the media.
    The task/role of the unions is just as relevant today as it has been through out time. What greater task for the unions to tackle than growing disparity between the haves and the have not’s. Little might not be flashy but he will be organised.

  2. Sirenia 2

    My understanding is that the Labour Party affiliated unions are just a part of a much wider union movement, most of which are not affiliated and are more progressive. My union is not affiliated. Some of the larger affiliated unions such as the EPMU are at the more conservative end of the union movement.

    Perhaps this is an opportunity for the union movement as a whole to have a discussion about their role and support for a future Labour government.

    • Rosie 2.1

      Quite true Sirenia. Some unions drifted away from Labour in the past for various reasons. One reason I’ve heard quoted from a union secretary was that their union felt that Labour as a party no longer truly represented their members.

      “Perhaps this is an opportunity for the union movement as a whole to have a discussion about their role and support for a future Labour government.”

      I agree with this. There are small medium and large unions (eg First Union with 27,000 members) that Labour that could reach out to, and listen to.

      • Murray Rawshark 2.1.1

        Labour would first have to offer something to the members of First Union. At the moment, they don’t. They look to appeal to people on maybe $50k and above. They no longer have a clue how low paid workers and beneficiaries live. They need to fix that before many workers will even look at them.

        • Rosie 2.1.1.1

          Thats exactly right Murray. There is scope for much to achieved but it will require work and trust building.

  3. Kevin Welsh 3

    Zero Hour Contracts.

    If ever there was a time for unions, then it is now.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Yip. Although it seems like a pretty hard thing to fight, since employers can specify the number of hours in a contract.

      What if you only need to work 4 hours a week? What if it’s only 2 hours? What about 1? How do you set a minimum?

      If you say “you can’t have 0-hour contracts” and leave it at that, then we’ll just end up with 1-hour contracts instead, which from the point of the employee is pretty much just as bad.

      I guess the approach would be “where someone regularly works 50% or more than the hours they have written into their contract, then the regularly worked hours become their new contracted hours”. Aside from the obvious question of “how often is ‘regularly'”, this still falls into the trap of what happens if the business needs genuinely change and you go from working 30 hours a week regularly to 20 hours regularly (and your contract specified 20 originally), do you have any grounds for complaint that your hours have been cut?

      • alwyn 3.1.1

        I wonder if you could change the rules to something that said that the number of hours in the contract were the only ones that were paid at ordinary time rates.
        This might be, in practice the minimum wage of $14.25/hour but that is probably all most of these zero hour contracts pay anyway.
        Then any hours above this number have to be paid as overtime with statutory requirements of time and a half for the first 3 hours/day and thereafter double time say. This would mean rates of $21.37 and $28.50 would have to be paid.
        It wouldn’t guarantee you any hours at all but would firms really try and put lots of employees on these sort of contracts if they became too expensive at all to use?
        I practice I think firms would end up giving fewer people contracts for more realistic hours for their semi-skilled staff (eg McDonalds) and reserve the zero hour deals for highly skilled, seldom needed people.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1

          Actually that wouldn’t work out too badly at all.

          It does get tricky if someone is sick and you want to call in a replacement though, because you’d have to pay them potentially time and a half etc and it may not be worth it. But that would give casual contracts a very specific niche.

          So maybe normal rates for the stated hours, and up to 50% extra on top of the normal hours at that rate too? Eg if you’re on 20 hours/week then you can work an extra 10 before they have to start paying you time and a half.

          So that gives the employer flexibility, but in order to get useful flexibility from their staff (eg, able to work an extra 8 hour shift with short/no notice) they’d have to have them on contracts of at least 16 hours a week to begin with.

          • Descendant Of Sssmith 3.1.1.1.1

            There used to be, and likely still are most likely in the public service at least, collective contracts that restrict this behaviour by having new jobs be at least 10 hours per week.

            That’s all it requires – not rocket science really.

            Can be done via collective bargaining or by legislative means.

    • Andrea 3.2

      The bit that seriously rankles is the way some employers seek to bind a worker to them, forbidding them to build a portfolio of employers or income streams. For me, that’s nasty, and denying others to develop a ‘Me, Inc’ status.

      There also needs to be changes (don’t ask, I’m financially illiterate!) to the terms and conditions for renting, hire purchase and loans, insurance, tax regimes and work status.

      If employers aren’t going to cover sick leave, holiday entitlements, and other traditional worker benefits, then there may need to be changes to the rules around the nature of business models so the contractors can access business rights and privileges to offset the losses suffered from erratic engagement.

      The other area which will need seriously shaking is that for the upskilling of the workforce, particularly in specialist areas. If employers are expecting a ‘hit the ground running’ casual workforce then work education/training has to become affordable, pertinent, and very easily accessed. Preferably paid for by employers, even if provided by off-site trainers.

  4. Ad 4

    Very graceful and restrained there.

    Oddly I think the 2017 future of Labour is not in Young Labour but Old Labour: the disaffected, swinging, NZFirst, liberal but Green, older and with memories, often able to donate, settled Wellington bourgeoisie and settled working regionals.
    That’s the natural stretch beyond the base.

  5. Gosman 5

    I’m curious how left wing people would feel if there was an explicit link between business and the control of the National Party e.g. linked Businesses got a say in who became the leader via an election and were able to engage in policy development directly via conferences. Wouldn’t this be classed as corruption?

    • miravox 5.1

      It’s the hidden links that are corrupt Gosman.

    • s y d 5.2

      Interesting idea Gosman and worth thinking about.
      From my point of view I think it would be a good thing and make absolutely clear who was having influence. If it is open and available to scrutiny then what is the problem?
      Better than implicit links via dinner at Antoines.

    • Ad 5.3

      It’s simply up front politics like it should be.

    • framu 5.4

      it would be better than doing it in secret as the currently do

      which scenario do you think more corrupt gos?

      hint: affiliated unions having a say on an internal party matter, in accordance with the agreed rules isnt corruption – no matter how hard you and other RW try to portray it as such

    • adam 5.5

      But a Union is a free association of individuals Gosman – no matter how much the nut jobs on the right want to pitch it otherwise. And as a free association, can it or can it not act as it wills collectively? Oh there is the rub, the right hate when working people act collectively.

      • Tracey 5.5.1

        Notice how the Right never bad mouth the Police Union?

      • Gosman 5.5.2

        Technically a joint stock company is merely a free association of people coming together to use their joint capital for their collective good. Therefore it is the Capital equivalent of a Labour union. It is why I don’t object in principle to Labour Unions.

        • vto 5.5.2.1

          It always astounds me how the right wing do one thing and say another.

          Capital benefits from a cooperative approach, working together to achieve better results for the benefit of that capital, as you point out. Witness Fonterra, Foodstuffs, all of NZs biggest businesses, are run on a cooperative communal basis. They are not run on an individualistic basis.

          So why cant the right wing see that people, like capital, working together in a cooperative, communal way also achieves better results for the benefit of those people?

          brainless ……

          or if not brainless, then evil ……

          • Gosman 5.5.2.1.1

            Not really. The main issue with Trade Unions from many on the right (not all I will grant you) is not that they make Labour more powerful but the restrictive practices they can impose. In a sense they can act like business monopolies. Just as you would agree I believe that Monopolies can be damaging so too can be Trade Unions if they seriously restrict supply of Labour especially across an entire industry.

            • left for deadshark 5.5.2.1.1.1

              It always astounds me how the right wing do one thing and say another.

              Capital benefits from a cooperative

              @5.5.2.1.1
              What utter nonsense,go back to WO.

            • adam 5.5.2.1.1.2

              That is a broke argument – when was the last time a union here had any means to impose restrictive practices across industry? Maybe back in the day when the FOL was more like the IWW, but that was a very long time ago.

              I notice you use – “in a sense” because the reality is without industrial unionism the ability be restrictive is virtually impossible, by the very nature of the fracturing and diversity of the trade unions. Also their limited scope, of improving wages and conditions – massively restricts unions in this country.

              That is all without our draconian labour laws. So the rights attacking unions is what it is. Nasty, spiteful and petty.

          • Enough is Enough 5.5.2.1.2

            Yes and No VTO.

            I am not sure Foodstuffs and Fonterra should be held out as great examples of successful cooperative communal businesses.

            Yes they may call themselves co-operatives but they are run like any other big business corporation.

            Just because the farmer or the store owner may have shares in the co-operative, does not mean the workers (milkers, drivers, farm hands, check-out operators, etc etc), are treated any different, or receive greater benefits from those co-operative models, then say a worker on the coal face for Fletchers.

            • felix 5.5.2.1.2.1

              That’s precisely vto’s point.

              The co-operative model works well for those co-operating, and as long as it’s the owners co-operating the right think that’s fine.

              Whole other story when the workers try to co-operate though.

    • Tracey 5.6

      You mean like the anonymous donors who said elect Brash your leader… then elect Key your leader or we will not give you money? And so it was? I thinkt he obvious difference is you know all the numbers and permutations of the Labour leadership contest, you know that certain affiliated unions get a vote…

      It’s not really a tough distinction.

      Now, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the adults are talking

    • Gareth 5.7

      I think you’re talking about heads of business rather than business per se. Stephen Tindall probably has different political views to a shareholder in the Warehouse for example. I don’t know that too many businesses would want to add a question about who the National Party leader should be to their AGM voting form.

      If you meant groups like a Chamber of Commerce, or the Business Roundtable, then I don’t think anyone would have too many problems with it as long as it was clear what the relationship was.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 5.7.1

        These arent every day members of the union. Its a formal process to be affiliated to the labour party, you know because it Is the labour party.

        The CTU has nearly 40 unions affiliated while the labour party has only 6.

        We all know the National party has deep links to business and financially they expect big donations in return for those links.

      • Gosman 5.7.2

        And you’re assuming that that the Union vote in the Labour election campaign is not merely the Union delegates voting the way they want regardless of what the grassroots members want. However if it was done is such a way that Shareholders voted at a special general meeting for which National party member they wanted would that satisfy your objection?

        • framu 5.7.2.1

          if its open, transparent an within the national parties rules whats the problem?

          exactly where are you going with this?

          • Gosman 5.7.2.1.1

            Just wanting to identify if the issue some leftists have is not with the influence of big capital in politics just the means that it goes about achieving it.

            • ghostwhowalksnz 5.7.2.1.1.1

              Remember ‘No Brash No Cash’ !

              WHat does that tell you about nationals ‘wonderful caucus decision making’.

              As I remember is was only a one vote margin for that one too. And English is still around !

              • alwyn

                “Remember ‘No Brash No Cash’ !”
                I don’t remember hearing anything like that in the National Party.
                Do you have a credible link to such an event?

                • Tracey

                  By credible do you mean documented?

                  • alwyn

                    I don’t mean that you have to produce a letter from a major National Party donor threatening such an action.
                    I mean a story in one of the MSM outlets or suchlike. They aren’t particularly reliable but they usually check their sources a little.
                    I would not regard as “credible” an anonymous claim on a blog, whether it be Whale Oil or here, that a threat had been made by unidentified people that money would not be donated to the party.

                    • Tracey

                      Thanks, i just wondered what you meant by credible, thats all.

                      If the msm is relying on that proven liar WO, will that do?

                • Tracey

                  What circles within the national party were you moving alwyn.

                  Russel Brown, having written he knew about brashes affair for some time, then wrote

                  “…The Business Roundtable is a key supporter and stakeholder for the National Party, and we know that Foreman (through her role in the “no Brash, no cash” edict that helped Brash take the leadership) is a key liaison with the business community”

                  I am looking for references to the “edict” B rown refers to.

                    • alwyn

                      Thank you. I shall have to have a look at Hager’s book, if I can find a copy anywhere.
                      I had heard of something like this with ACT but not with National.

                      As for “What circles within the national party were you moving alwyn” I would note that I have never been a member of any party and have never been tempted by the prospect.

                      I’ve never spoken to any of the current United Future or Maori Party members but I have met people in all the others currently around.
                      I really don’t want to get involved though.

                      I am a believer in the comment attributed to Bismarck
                      “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made”.

                    • Tracey

                      i misunderstood what you meant about nat party.

                      hollow men is in your library. heck i can lend you my copy.

            • McFlock 5.7.2.1.1.2

              I would have thought that a prerequisite for being “leftist” would be to have an issue with the very existence of big capital.

              As well as have an issue with how the powerful in the country covertly exercise that power over the majority.

              As opposed to unions openly having a limited say in the leadership of the Labour party.

              There’s also an issue with branding: the fact that tories call themselves “national” when they have no interest in the welfare of the nation, just in their own personal exploitation of the country and everything/everyone in it.
              Or “ACT” when really all they do is “follow orders” from bigots and nutters.

              “Labour” having union input and “Green” having a strong environmental focus is simple honesty – a concept you have difficulty with.

        • Skinny 5.7.2.2

          In both cases it is paying the piper Goose Step, except the workers (Unions) get crumbs while Nationals donators get more than they can eat of the public purse.

    • vto 5.8

      gosman, then why don’t you encourage the full and open disclosure of all political donations….

      if they have nothing to fear then they have nothing to hide, as Key so aptly put it recently ……

    • Sabine 5.9

      and this is why you should be so happy to vote for National. Because there is no link between National and big business. None. Whatsoever. Never was. Never will be.

      Right ……
      right….

      Tui

    • Mark 5.10

      Have you been asleep for the last 30 years. They have and they do

  6. Tracey 6

    rOb

    I think in robertson and Little they get both, if they want it.

    Unions, past and present are the reason those who are employed part-time or full-time have

    sick leave
    holiday pay
    bereavement leave
    paternity leave (very recent move)
    an advocate for safe working conditions
    representation if the employment contract goes wrong
    in some cases medical plans for employee and family

    Progress doesn’t mean throwing babies out with bathwater.

    This LP has been distancing itself from unions by its silence for a while now… and it hasnt gained them any traction.

    So, time for Robertson to show his mettle. Get alongside Little, shake his hand and hold it aloft in a sign of unity. And make it very clear to each and every supporter he has that damage tot he LP, to Little is damage to him and all the vulnerable of NZ. Those are leadership qualities.

    • miravox 6.1

      +1 Tracey.

      There’s no need for artificial divisions within Labour. Unions and progressive politics are not mutually exclusive by any means. Nor are the divisions about ‘old’ and ‘young’. It’s the nature of work that’s changed not the need to support and progress workers.

  7. vto 7

    As long as people work for others there is a place for unions.

    To even have this cross anyones mind as possibly some sort of ‘old’ notion points to a lack of understanding.

    When in human history have people not worked for others?

    Unions are more relevant to society than the Labour Party if you think about it. Andrew Little is on the right path, no doubt.

  8. I want to point out that Cunliffe was elected on the first round with a majority of votes, and the press spent all their time complaining about how he didn’t have the support of caucus and so on, despite him winning at a canter.

    They’ll do it again. Oh look, that little rat Gower has already started.

    • Craig Glen Eden 8.1

      All true Tom Jackson and I would also like to point out this is the second time we have had a Leadership contest and its the second time the Labour Caucus has been at odds with the Unions and members as to who should be leader. Time for the caucus to listen to those its meant to represent me thinks. Its also time for those who claim to be true Labour to put their brains into gear instead of saying stupid shit publically.

    • Tracey 8.2

      Plus 1

      Some in this caucus now need to resign. They clearly dont want anyone but robertson. Twice they have lost, so just go. Caucus is NOT the party, caucus REPRESENTS the party. Given that concept is too difficult for some to grasp, you wonder how they ever got past filling in their form for candidacy.

    • SPC 8.3

      Garner, Armstrong, Geddis and Rudman – it’s an avalanche.

      All ignore the fact that the race was won when Little questioned increasing the age for super – and won the Maori MP votes.

      The media and party MP’s have a working relationship. Together to build public opinion. But MP’s are limited by the public opinion that the media helps shape – by their desire for job security.

      Party memberships are in their way. And both media and MP’s know it.

    • Ware armitage 8.4

      “I want to point out that Cunliffe was elected on the first round with a majority of votes, and the press spent all their time complaining about how he didn’t have the support of caucus and so on, despite him winning at a canter.”

      And that worked real well!

  9. Sanctuary 9

    Labour is the political expression of organised Labour, just as the unions are the workplace expression of organised Labour. Political Labour can’t survive without organised Labour, and organised Labour can’t survive if its primary expression is mass-employment blue collar trade unionism. Nowadays, the factories and workshops have largely moved the developing world and the precariat in low paid service sector and retail jobs self-identifies with the middle class. And let’s not forget that every workplace still has those vocal one or two employees who when asked to join a union have never forgotten the gutlessness of the CTU in the face of Rogernomics.

    So how is Labour to survive?

    One answer in the 1990s was to re-invent the definition of the left and the meaning of the Labour party, staying relevant by moving away from a “discredited” ideology of socialist rhetoric, the welfare state and Keynesian economics and instead projecting “…a more modern, urban image, and very literally represent(ing) Young Labour…” that was concerned with emergent issues of identity and by building a broad coalition of minorities take power. This had the additional benefit of moving the flagship party of the left away from talking about the economic war, which it had lost as much because of internal betrayal and cowardice as anything. Instead of arguing economics, managing the territory conquered by financialised capitalism with a view to moderating the worst excesses of the occupation was the path of least resistance to power. The trouble with this approach is it first confused then attempted to replace the primary action principles of the traditional left wing Labour movement – wages, jobs, wealth re-distribution, the welfare state, standards of living, egalitarianism – with the secondary action principles of the wider left’s social radicalism. In the end, this approach failed because capitalist managerialism itself failed and the agenda of the radical economic right was only ever temporarily checked rather than defeated or stalemated. Surely, then, this approach is now exhausted.

    We have to seek new ways and new policies that both again embrace the primary action principles of the Labour party and still recognises the secondary action principles of social radicalism and is adapted to the new realities of the post-industrial workplace. For example, I would LOVE it Labour were to propose the sweeping introduction of German style work councils (The model is basically as follows: general labour agreements are made at the national level by national unions and national employer associations, and local businesses then meet with works councils to adjust these national agreements to local circumstances). This would free up trade unions to be nationally based “negotiating agents” to affiliated works councils. Not only are works councils not trade unions, but they don’t even set wages. This would give workers significant collective power in the workplace without the controversy of the word “unions”. And organised workers will, inevitably, join the union as well to ensure it has the muscle to get a pay rise!

    All in all, Labour movements in 2015 need to accept the realpolitik that first and foremost they need to urgently come up with policies that rebuild the economic – and therefore political – power of their own power base via primary action principles before the “nice to haves” of the secondary action principles will ever have a chance of being adopted.

  10. Tom Gould 10

    Lazy, craven, indolent chooks question Little’s “mandate” to lead with “only” 50.52% of the vote, yet fawn and whimper around Key with his “mandate” to govern of 47.04% of the vote? And Key wasn’t even elected leader of the Tory party, he was installed unopposed.

    If Labour is to succeed then they need to deal with their most powerful opponents first, the main stream media and the Tory radio and TV shock-jocks. Then they can deal with the Tories themselves.

  11. Penny Bright 11

    In my view – the old ‘left vs right’ political divide went when Labour blitzkrieged neo-liberal ‘Rogernomic$’ upon unsuspecting New Zealanders after their election in 1984.

    I see the political divide as being locally, nationally and internationally between the corporate 1% (and those who serve their interests) and the public 99% (and those who serve their interests).

    So, in my view, if the new Leader of the Labour Party Andrew Little, focuses on policies against the corporate 1%, such as opposing the privatisation of State Housing (for which there was NO electoral mandate for this John Key-led National Government, and represents a MAJOR broken promise on there being no more asset sales), and for clear policies against ‘white collar crime’, corruption and ‘corporate welfare’ – then there is potentially huge potential for political support.

    In my view – that’s what is now needed – CLEAR and DECISIVE policies that will serve the interests of the 99%.

    Here are some suggestions – help yourself:

    http://www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/ANTI-CORRUPTION-WHITE-COLLAR-CRIME-CORPORATE-WELFARE-ACTION-PLAN-Ak-Mayoral-campaign-19-July-2013-2.pdf

    Kind regards,

    Penny Bright

  12. As a member of the active Union Greens within the Green Party there is another way of looking at unions within the context of social justice, human rights and an environmentally sustainable economy. The capitalist/socialist, left/right debates tend to be simplistic, polarising and creates blinkered thinking.

    Market forces can deliver positive outcomes if there are appropriate controls and expectations. We are suffering from an economy that delivers uneven benefits across our population because of poor governance and a lack of a long term vision.

    Sadly there is a possibility we may be entering into a simplistic political environment when the two largest parties again can be seen as representing employers or workers and future debates will be seen in the contexts of wins and losses for either side. In such a black and white environment there is a danger of losing sight of the wider issues of working towards an economy that delivers benefits on a number of fronts. This can only be done with greater collaboration and a shared vision and purpose that is lacking at present.

    We can actually have a shared economic vision that makes sense for all if we looked at our economy in terms of building social capital, environmental capital and building capital assets (transport networks, electricity supply) that provide the infrastructure and resources for a sustainable economy.

    The social capital should be measured in terms of economic capacity in providing a healthy, skilled and well educated workforce that is largely engaged in adding value to our economy. An unhealthy, poorly housed and unskilled workforce will hold back our ability to be economically resilient and reduces our ability to increase productivity. A population that is largely low waged has little discretionary income to support our domestic economy. It is in the best interests of businesses to operate in an environment where the workforce has a high level of capability and money to spend on more than the basics of life. While improving workers rights is important, it is going to have widespread support when spending on education, housing and lifting wages is seen as an investment towards economic resilience.

    Our economy is also highly reliant on our natural resources and careful management is necessary to ensure that we won’t compromise economic development by exploiting them for short term gain. Putting heavy reliance on the potential benefits from sunset industries like oil and coal will potentially destroy the long term value of other natural assets. The long term benefits of shifting to a low carbon economy that operates sustainably through what we can produce ourselves will enable us to reduce our current account deficit and reduce our reliance imported resources. Dairying is a good example of an industry where its current growth trajectory is unsustainable and heading towards inevitable collapse (now relying on imported fertilizer and feed, producing a low value product and using a low waged workforce).

    Surely it is in the best interests of our economy and our people if important infrastructure like energy supply and transport are managed in a way that supports both businesses and enhances our quality of life. If electricity costs are reduced to a level not far above the cost of production then the resulting savings for businesses can be reinvested into wages.

    I would like to see a more collaborative environment developed where unions are still able to take industrial action where the basic rights of workers (health and safety and wages) are ignored but where they also have a role in shaping our future economic direction in partnership with employers and business leaders. When union membership is continually declining there needs to be a more visionary approach (collectively) from those that remain that engages effectively in an industrial environment that is very different from that when unions had greater influence in the past. Unions need to be seen as having valuable input into future economic development as well as representing their members in an industrial sense.

    From what I have heard from Andrew Little so far is a recognition that New Zealand workers have it tough and need support, but I have yet to hear from him any visionary view of how that can be effectively achieved. He is unlikely to be embraced by business leaders and his approach seems more adversarial and based on the unionism of old. There is no point in being an effective organiser if the organisation that results does not go in a useful direction.

    I wish Labour well but it has a long way to go to prove political relevance if it uses a ‘back to the future’ approach.

    • The lost sheep 12.1

      A well reasoned and balanced view of the complex relationship between economics and social politics Dave, so I’d be surprised if you got a constructive response here!

      Post-neo liberal Socialist thinking seems to be largely uninterested in, or ignorant of the primary importance of production, and exclusively concerned with how we share the benefits.
      Everyone at the table and no one in the kitchen…

      • Bill 12.1.1

        Well ‘lost sheep’, there’s a fundamental flaw in what Dave is saying. The market can’t ever deliver what he wants. At the dead center of market philosophy there is the idea, put simply, that everyone must attempt to buy low and sell high to ‘get ahead’. Another way to view this is to say that success in a market economy is measured by how well one is at ripping everyone else off. Although that leads to complexities, it isn’t, in and of itself, very complex at all. Neither is it redeemable.

        • The lost sheep 12.1.1.1

          Supply and demand is conventionally considered to be the central force in a market economy Bill?
          That is a far more complex mechanism than ‘ripping people off’.

          • Murray Rawshark 12.1.1.1.1

            Supply and demand is secondary. The primary mover is the lust for profit. Bill is correct.

            • Descendant Of Sssmith 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Exemplified by the power industry. Demand has gone down significantly in the last 9 years or so but prices have gone significantly up with some of the additional profit extracted via high executive salaries and dividends (tax) to the government.

              Lower general taxation paid for in part by electricity taxation.

  13. Ron 13

    Maybe a good place to start with the new design of Labour would be to borrow a leaf from German unions and require all companies over a certain staff size to have union/worker representation on the board of the company. This would seem to me to be a sound Labour principle, that would bring the workforce into the company and give them an added incentive to ensure the company succeeds.

    • Bill 13.1

      …or unions could educate workers on the pro’s and cons of different expressions of workers’ collectives and enable them to assume control of the companies they currently work for.

      That’s got to be better than deepening workers’ dependency and subservience to current exploitative workplace power structures, no?

      • The lost sheep 13.1.1

        “assume control of the companies they currently work for.”

        Like in ‘Animal Farm’ Bill?

        Why not just start their own, exactly like someone did to establish the company they currently work for?

  14. fisiani 14

    I reckon the best way for Labour is to cut off their links with the 6 out of 40 unions so that they are no longer tarred by the Union Party name and image. Union members are free to campaign for Labour if they wish but you have to face the reality that a large number of union members actually party voted National. The estimate is 40% did so. It will be interesting to see the arguments here which are essentially about the best way to keep the Titanic afloat. There will be three more years of assuming the people will flock back to the Union Party and then another three years doing the same thing till the penny drops that people actually approve of the John Key National led governments and want them to continue. The Union Party has to reform or slowly sink beneath the waves.

    • felix 14.1

      This issue doesn’t concern you, fizzy. Your opinions on it have no value.

      Fuck off back to the sewer, there’s a good trool.

      • Craig Glen Eden 14.1.1

        +1 Felix lol

      • fisiani 14.1.2

        Adding to the debate, note debate with pointless abuse seems to be your trademark felix.
        Try reading the policy about pointless abuse

      • GregJ 14.1.3

        Allegedly “fisiani” is actually a Union member although when s/he was last asked which Union no reply was forthcoming. In fairness it is possible s/he just missed the question Tracey and myself asked at the time.

        • fisiani 14.1.3.1

          That is too personal a question to answer. It could identify me.

          • Te Reo Putake 14.1.3.1.1

            It would only identify you as a hypocrite, fisi. Much like Peter Jackson, who is a member of two unions himself, because of the personal benefits, but who denies union membership to his own workers, presumably for exactly the same reason.

            • fisiani 14.1.3.1.1.1

              More pointless abuse.

              • Te Reo Putake

                That’s not abuse, but this is:

                fuck off, tosser.

              • left for deadshark

                What I also suggest you could avail yourself to do is ,have a look at TV one @ 9.30 an take note of what a respected Kiwi has to say about john key and the crony board of directors,like rats leaving a sinking ship,your Titanic analogue if you will.Labour and the unions started on that coast.

          • GregJ 14.1.3.1.2

            I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

          • left for deadshark 14.1.3.1.3

            The Union Party

            Hello again, you have been made. As a RWNJ. Who are these people you talk of,the Union party, no such thing son,your making it all up.I think you will find that it’s the party your so in love with that is steering HMS New Zealand on to rocks. what are you doing about that,at lest many here tried to prevent that from happening .
            what is the latest tally .90 billion an rising.

          • Murray Rawshark 14.1.3.1.4

            Haha. Taxpayer’s Union it is.

        • KB 14.1.3.2

          Fisiani is a member of the Taxpayer’s Union?

  15. feijoa 15

    Have to agree with Penny Bright on this
    The 1% need to be exposed for all to see, so the 99% ALL KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON

    Labour can be much bigger than just the union members- students, small business owners, unemployed, pensioners, and all the non unionised people on minimum /-low wage……….. Not to mention all those people who just want a better society

  16. Whateva next? 16

    The unions represent real people, not some mythical monster, and they only had 20% of the vote, so if Andrew has taken the time previously to win their trust, then why do we discount this vote???
    I, like others am hugely relieved we have unions, and realise where we would be without them. The anti Union speak is Tory spin, don’t fall for it, we need them more than ever.
    If this is the only attack they can muster up, Andrew is doing pretty well already.

  17. sabine 17

    it seems that the right and our resident trolls have an issue with the idea of ‘collective bargaining’.
    wonder why.

  18. Mark 18

    The Labour Party has been fucked for 30 years and nothing is changing. The low paid worker is just an after thought for the middle class tossers that the Labour Party has become. They have no idea how to solve the problems affecting the people that were their natural constituents but are no longer. Why would you support a party that can’t come up with a solution to your problems. Labour is just pale blue instead of dark blue, but they are all neo-liberals to the core. It is just that Labour has a social conscience. Whippty fucking do. All Labour is doing is fighting over the centre with National. So who do you support if you really are a left winger. The Greens are in love with the market economy but they are going to be kinder and more sympathetic to the workers and the environment. So more of the same but you going to get roggered in a much more polite and kind way. Fuck the Greens as well. So I like a lot of New Zealanders don’t vote because there is nothing remotely worth voting for. I despise the Nats but I hate the Labour Party a lot more. They were meant to be the party that had our back. Instead they fucked us over. Long may they languish at 25% or less. Arseholes.

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  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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