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Labour day

Written By: - Date published: 12:34 pm, October 24th, 2022 - 13 comments
Categories: greens, labour, uncategorized, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

We’ve written a bit about Labour Day over the years – see the archives for the origins, history, and importance of the day. Enjoying your weekend? Thank a unionist!

13 comments on “Labour day ”

  1. mickysavage 1

  2. weka 2

    thanks unionists! (and micky).

  3. Descendant Of Smith 3

    To be fair Labour did take away "National Super" and got rid of "Building Blue" in the public service. There a track record there…….

    Human Synergistics have a long history of gobbledy gook in the public service of course.

    As far as I can tell with my limited google-fu, Richard Prebble has been publicly pimping for Human Synergistics since 2001.

    Human Synergistics, Richard Prebble, and the end of government

    Don't you wish you had a job at Human Synergistics, a consulting firm paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Ministry of Social Development to colour-code its workers changing them from red to blue.


  4. Muttonbird 5

    Had a good day:

    4:30am Tottenham v Newcastle with child 2 and 1.

    8:00am US F1 GP (Austin, Texas) with child 1 and 2.

    9:00am Made pancakes.

    10:00am Helped child 1 with NCEA L2 Calculus.

    12:00pm Garden.

    3:00pm Bought work boots at Pat Menzies Shoes. Great shop in Queen Street if you are in Auckland.

    6:00pm Leftovers. Kept the right wing in their place.

    10:00pm Bed.

  5. Mike the Lefty 6

    But is it kind of ironic that what we are celebrating – the eight hour work day – has now been usurped by 14-hour plus extended work days and the political right still moan that we are not productive enough.

  6. arkie 7

    It is good to remember that making Labour day an official public holiday in 1900 was a sop by the National-antecedent Liberal party, instead of enacting eight-hour-workday legislation. That took until 1946 and the First Labour government. Also good to remember is that the job of unified labour in standing up for workers did not end in 1931, or 1946, and it is still needed now.

    In the days of manual labour at the beginning of the industrial revolution Adam Smith noted that the man who works so moderately as to be able to work constantly not only preserves his health the longest, but, in the course of the year, executes the greatest quantity of work. Around a century later an admirer of capitalism and fan of Smith, Karl Marx, wrote that the shortening of the working-day is [freedom’s] basic prerequisite. He saw the great potential for freedom in the increased output of industrial machinery:

    Capital employs machinery, rather, only to the extent that it enables the worker to work a larger part of his time for capital, to relate to a larger part of his time as time which does not belong to him, to work longer for another. Through this process, the amount of labour necessary for the production of a given object is indeed reduced to a minimum, but only in order to realise a maximum of labour in the maximum number of such objects. The first aspect is important, because capital here – quite unintentionally – reduces human labour … to a minimum. This will redound to the benefit of emancipated labour, and is the condition of its emancipation.

    Karl Marx – from The Grundrisse (pp. 690-712)

    In 1930 Keynes also predicted that due to productivity and technological changes we would have a 15-hour work week with the rest of our time our own, for our leisure. Had the power of unions and organised labour remained as it was in his time, this would not have been such an outrageous imagining. Over the 20th century and particularly since widespread adoption of computers, productivity of workers has dramatically increased while their share of the value produced has reduced:

    GDP vs Labour share of value
    GDP growth and the labour income share in the measured sector

    Now in the 21st century, when many workers are more poorly remunerated than the preceding generations were at the same stage in their careers, while price inflation and profits soar and most wage increases have to be fought for, workers must demand change on a larger scale. Since there's plenty of evidence that 30-hour weeks, with no reduction in pay, result in productivity improving or remaining the same, it should be something organised labour can mobilise around. It's such a reasonable request, with so few downsides for owners, that many businesses have already voluntarily adopted it.

    Organising around reducing working hours would benefit workers and increase unionism, and also allow more time for organising. All people should be able to benefit from the advances of our society, that should include idle hours to enjoy be alive. The freedom of earned leisure. We must reclaim our more of our time.

  7. Stuart Munro 8

    Labour day marks, not how far we have come, but how far we have to go.

    Much of the journey is like Ukraine's – recovering territory temporarily occupied by hostiles.

  8. Dot 9

    Thank you Union movement.

    I am 82 now but I certainly do not forget the importance of Unions.

  9. mary_a 10

    Much respect for NZ workers past and present, as well as the Unions they supported then and now. Thank you.

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