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Labour Day: Thank a unionist

Written By: - Date published: 7:58 am, October 25th, 2010 - 142 comments
Categories: human rights, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Hope y’all are enjoying the long weekend as much as I am. Labour Weekend! Labour Day. Where does Labour Day come from? Why is it a holiday?

Labour Day celebrates the successful struggle for an eight-hour working day. Its a story that goes back to 1840, when London born carpenter Samuel Parnell arrived in NZ, landing at Petone beach. A fellow passenger asked Parnell to build him a shop, and Parnell’s response has entered New Zealand folklore:

I will do my best, but I must make this condition, Mr. Hunter, that on the job the hours shall only be eight for the day … There are twenty-four hours per day given us; eight of these should be for work, eight for sleep, and the remaining eight for recreation and in which for men to do what little things they want for themselves. I am ready to start to-morrow morning at eight o’clock, but it must be on these terms or none at all.

Parnell soon enlisted the support of other workmen, and in October 1840 a meeting of Wellington workers apparently resolved to work eight hours a day (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), with anyone breaking the rule to be ducked in the harbour. The practice spread and in 1857 painter William Griffin “led an agitation among the building trades”, which achieved the formal adoption of the eight-hour working day. Thus New Zealand was the first country in the world to have an eight-hour day, but only for tradesmen and labourers.

From 1882 onwards there were many efforts, and a union campaign, to legalise the eight-hour day. The first large scale events were on the 28 October 1890, when several thousand trade union members and supporters attended parades in the main centres (Government employees were given the day off to attend). The Liberal government was (plus ca change) reluctant to antagonise the business community, but instead The Labour Day Act of 1899 created a statutory public holiday as a suitable occasion to pay tribute to Parnell and the other pioneers. Labour Day was first celebrated in 1900, and ‘Mondayised’ in 1910, since when it has been held on the fourth Monday in October. Early celebrations of Labour Day were large public events, but they began declining in the 1920s.

Today very few people remember the history of Labour Day — I certainly didn’t until I started reading up for this post! We take it all for granted. Reasonable hours. Meal breaks. Parental leave. Four weeks leave. The legal rights and protections of employment law. But these things didn’t happen by accident. And they didn’t happen out of the goodness of the employers’ hearts. They are rights hard won by workers and unions, past and present.

It’s a difficult time for unions under this National government. Particularly difficult at the moment, when a tiny union has been set up as the public scapegoat in what appears to be brutal political wrangling by the international film industry. The Nats and their repeaters are trying to paint unions as some kind of public enemy. How can we be a public enemy when we are the public? Unions are just people. Unions exist to work for our rights. If you enjoy decent conditions at work, it you’re enjoying your long weekend, and Labour Day, why not thank a unionist!

142 comments on “Labour Day: Thank a unionist ”

  1. Mac1 1

    Yes, thank a unionist and thanks to Parnell. A commentator on National Radio makes the point that hours of work are increasing again, especially overtime.

    The post asks us to remember unionists and for us to understand the place of unionism in our history.

    One thing I know is that employers as a group, and governments representing them, certainly learnt a lesson from the Parnell experiment. Never allow workers to dictate terms. The driver for this in 1840 was the under supply of workers. The same happened in the sixties when I were a lad and employers moaned that they could never keep a worker because they could always get another job up the road.

    During the 1972-75 Labour Government, unemployment increased to 5000! Comparatively, happy days.

    • ZeeBop 1.1

      The left can’t argue that unions are made of people and not admit that people do best if they behave like capitalists.
      So why aren’t the unions expanding into the now stagnate and unclean financial sector with co-ops for mortgage
      business, home insurance, build the society that cuts out the speculator class than fund the National party?
      Because yes unions are made of people, of voters, but unions run by communist aren’t worth the effort.
      You can have your socialism if you create co-ops, non-profits, and stop the right selling out NZ, and
      you don’t need to wait for the next election.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Good advice but there’s a slight problem – the people in unions generally don’t have enough financial capital to do all that in the first place.

        • ZeeBop 1.1.1.1

          You are kidding right. Workers pay car insurance, they pay housing insurance, they pay bank
          fees, they pay credit card fees, they pay interest on borrowing, and I say do this yourself and
          you say they don’t have the capital. Are you simple or what!

          Okay, think five year old. Take a thousand workers paying $100 dollars for content
          insurance, that’s up front $100,000 dollars for insuring home contents. The first
          few years of building up the nest egg will mean less claims are paid out or for less,
          but over time, with the addition of housing insurance, with the addition of a
          building society co-op. The workers turn the economy around, because instead
          of borrowing money from homes, or from banks, they borrow money from themselves
          and each other, so when they pay back, pay fees, its to themselves! Less middlemen!

          What you mean is you can’t be asked to trust your fellow employees and share profits
          with them.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1

            ZeeBop you make some good points, but this is less an issue of trust and more an issue of lack of organisation/skills/time/vision.

            I do agree in general though – workers should explore the possibilities of co-ops in more detail. Start with small scale initiatives first (<100 participants) and go from there.

            • ZeeBop 1.1.1.1.1.1

              One, make the time, find the talent, organize because the best place for unions to be is in the board room redirecting the executives from pushing the risks onto employees, managers don’t want that, employees are consumers too. Greenpeace activists drink milk too! This mindset that us and them shackles the workers. The basic fact of business life is if it makes the shareholders money, not if it screws workers over. It only screws workers over if the unions are thick about how they play their hand, if they are lazy they will whine alot about the international.

              Second, if you enter the market with real competition that takes consumers, investment money, economic opportunities away form the big end of town they will stop being so damn abusive to the union movement. Its just completely crazy for unionists to declare the actions of companies wrong yet no prove they can do a comparable or better job. Front up with real threats to the economic well being of the speculator class and unions will be taken far more seriously than a few hundred thousands marching down Queen Street.

              The pain is coming, oil is running down, you are going to have to build non-profit building societies like
              your forefathers did anyway, might as well get to it. The union movement came about in part of a wave of action include the building of economic alternatives to the bosses. Its the history of unionism, how can you not know why? Building societies, non-profits did not appear because of some rich prick decided it was a good idea, it was worker people what was done it gov.

            • Vicky32 1.1.1.1.1.2

              Isn’t that what Building Societies are or were? I worked for one in the 70s when I was in my teens, and had it explained to me, that it was originally a co-operative of workers who got together to loan money for houses, way back, 70 years or so before I worked there..
              Mind, that was when employment was a bit more secure and people had more time, because 40 hour weeks still existed!
              Deb

              • KJT

                I understand they were regulated out of existence. Banks did not like the competition.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I think Kiwibank needs to be given real teeth, a stronger balance sheet, and its for profit motive weakened in favour of for community and SME good.

                  And yes, regulatory and statutory changes aimed at improving the practicality and feasibility of a range of different community collectives.

                • Vicky32

                  Ah, so that’s what happened… 🙁
                  Deb

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.2

            A long term plan, one bit at a time, could work – if the laws aren’t changed to prevent it and, as you’re talking about a total replacement of the monetary system that the capitalists have used to steal out community from us*, I don’t have a lot of faith in that happening.

            *Community is the original “insurance”. People looking out for one another.

            • prism 1.1.1.1.2.1

              Practical concrete community resources were there for the community to use so you could look after yourself. The commons where you could get feed for your goat or cow, the practice of the women going in and gleaning the leftovers after the harvest. Also the woman who took on the role of midwife and got called on regularly. Many quite small things made a big difference and were sadly missed when such practices were abolished.

              People weren’t always kindly and helpful to others – I’m glad we have a welfare state so I don’t have to rely mostly on others’ whims.

    • jbanks 1.2

      The post asks us to remember unionists and for us to understand the place of unionism in our history.

      Yes, in our history.

      Unions today are greedy, inefficient and pointless. The Hobbit debacle further illustrated this fact.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        Unions are just starting to pick up activist steam again after years of good industrial management and strong jobs growth under Labour.

        Let’s see if National thinks that unions are pointless with tens of thousands at Fairness at Work marches continuing right through to elections in 2011.

        You know, I hope that John Key finds the guts to bow down to National’s neo-con right wing and keep hitting workers and unions hard. He needs to in order for the Right to stay supportive of him as he is too watered down and centrist. This’ll make for a really fun election campaign and victory all the sweeter.

        • jbanks 1.2.1.1

          John Key can do what he likes. This wee stuff-up has pushed unions back to far-left no-mans land. GG

      • Some unionists are greedy, inefficient and pointless, certainly. Like the General Secretary who sacked me a few weeks before Christmas so he had the budget to upgrade his 6 cylinder car to a 4WD (more useful when visiting his new holiday home).

        Some employers are also greedy, inefficient and pointless.

        However we need both unions and employers, because the good done by the decent ones far outweighs the bad.

        • Vicky32 1.2.2.1

          Sorry Rex, I have yet to meet a decent honest employer!
          Deb

          • Rex Widerstrom 1.2.2.1.1

            Geez Deb you’ve had a rough time of it then! Employers are people too… to not find the good and the bad amongst them (albeit perhaps in different proportions to the overall populace) suggests a run of bad luck even worse then my own (and at one stage Tane was of the opinion I was the most sacked person he’d ever heard of 😀 )

            I’ve literally lost count of the number of times a business has either folded under me due to bosses’ incompetence and/or greed, or I’ve been sacked for bugger all cause.

            But I can also name several bosses who’ve been amongst the most decent, fairest people I’ve known, some of whom I’ve remained mates with well after (amicably) parting professional company.

            Mind you, a lot of the latter category come from a journalism background… maybe us journalists are just more attuned to the angels of our better natures 😉

            • Vicky32 1.2.2.1.1.1

              I am distinguishing between my immediate manager and the boss of the organisation… For instance, at the school I currently relieve for, Whitireia Polytech (a government institution) the DOS is a wonderful guy!
              His boss, the boss of all bosses, I don’t actually know.
              In my experience, the boss of all bosses at any private enterprise organisation, is prone to fits of terror leading to ill-treatment of staff. (The manager between me and them is often as much a victim as I am!)
              Being a job hunter for 2 years has exposed me to some utterly awful potential bosses, so that when I calm down after the (so far, inevitable) rejection, I realise I have dodged a bullet.
              The things that have made me so jaded about bosses, are the absurd reasons I have got for being knocked back – age (and don’t tell me to go the Human Rights Commission, I have – and they actually have no powers of enforcement!) and looks, and one guy at a business organisation who said “it came down to that I just don’t like you!” (that after admitting that my skills made me the otherwise leading candidate).
              I have done freelance journalism, so if i actually had the quals, I’d be well in!
              Deb

      • lprent 1.2.3

        That probably explains why their membership is rising a lot faster then the workforce size in a purely voluntary market….. Oops something wrong there..

        Obviously your fantasies are rather like your namesakes ability to be super shitty mayor. Deluded

        • jbanks 1.2.3.1

          You’re the one who is deluded if you think that Union membership is an indicator of unions not being greedy and inefficient?

          When people buy a ticket for the money train they rarely ask where it’s going.

          Your bias is blinding you. Fool.

          • Colonial Viper 1.2.3.1.1

            is an indicator of unions not being greedy and inefficient? When people buy a ticket for the money train they rarely ask where it’s going.

            Ah, yet another capitalist apologist projecting his own world view on everyone else.

            Suggest you stick to your politics of Greed and Envy, that’s clearly your main competence in life.

            • jacinda 1.2.3.1.1.1

              But, the politics of the left is the politics of envy? How else do you describe income redistribution, and pretty much everything that ever left Michael Cullen’s mouth?

              • lprent

                Common sense.

                Most of the redistribution in one shape or form ultimately goes towards making sure that all kids wind up with better opportunities. That pays dividends all the way down the line back to the society that you have to live in over the decades. There is a better return from educated adults for all businesses, less crime, lower overheads from unemployment, etc etc.

                Generally when people like yourself whine like that, I hear the voice of the 19th century longing for the days when there was a good solid class system, people and their kids starving or malnourished, high unemployment, almost all taxes were indirect and aimed exclusively at the poor, and the affluent lived in fear of a bloody revolution just around the corner.

                Of course having wealthy, healthy, citizens who are able to get out of whatever holes they fall into is good for the economy as well. You only have to look at the long artificial recession in the early 90’s that National caused with benefit cuts to understand that. The daft thing was that was that the cuts were far less than the resulting tax tax from reduced economic activity. It was one of the most senseless things I’ve ever seen a government do.

                But then I suppose that all passed right over your head. It wasn’t a idiotic slogan and would require that you were aware of some history – which you don’t seem to have.

  2. Malcolm 2

    Here’s my Labour day suggestion. I don’t know why we have cost of living increases as percentages – the basic cost to run a household is capped at some reasonable value. Expenditure on luxuries goes up with income, but not expenditure on basics. Applying a fixed percentage increase to a high income individual (such as me) simply gives them more than they actually need for a cost of living adjustment, and over time increases inequality.

    So why not propose that, for each industry or employer, cost of living increases be capped (e.g. at $3000). This would stop inequality creep, and make a little more money available for bigger increases for the more poorly paid.

    Addition: Nothing in this proposal would stop people seeking more money through a promotion, job re-evaluation or general bargaining increase if the profession is underpaid.

    • ZeeBop 2.1

      Co-ops, building societies, were created as by the left to give poor people access to build better
      fair societies. Its unfortuate the left has only one answer for their woes, big government.
      The left need to stop listening to big government communists, and go back to their roots
      in helping their poor communities grow economically.

  3. Murray 3

    So I guess the unions will be taking part in the marches around the country today to support The Hobbit being kept in New Zealand

    • IrishBill 3.1

      I read somewhere that AE are supporting the rally.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        They should. We should support people getting out there and voicing their views and their support for those views. Even if they do not perfectly coincide with ours. Great to see folks shaking off their usual complacency.

    • burt 3.2

      Well of course they support the rally, they are the reason it is being held.

      I bet the soft-cock unions don’t come out and protest about workers rights at the rally – anything less would be a sell out given the role they have played in this to date.

      • marsman 3.2.1

        I thought the reason the rally is being held is that we were made suckers by Jackson and Warner Bros.

        • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1

          its quite possible that cash strapped Warner Bros told Jackson that he would have to cut back on budgets. Jackson didn’t like the sound of that, and thought and thought about where he could score tens of millions of extra money from. Eureka! The NZ tax payer!

          • SHG 3.2.1.1.1

            Yes, because when Warner Bros gets a tax credit, the IRD puts that money directly into Sir Peter Jackson’s pocket. IT ALL SEEMS SO OBVIOUS NOW.

  4. burt 4

    Excellent, so the unions were useful in 1840 – pity the unions didn’t notice that a lot has changed since then and that their “stick it to the man” romantic vision of how to resolve disputes hasn’t changed since the one time it actually worked.

    • KJT 4.1

      That has alwys been the only thing that worked unless you are in a union that has collective monopoly wage fixing power like the lawyers.

    • burt 4.2

      And that’s why the unions are so against individual contracts – can’t have workers engaged in constructive talks directly with the boss – who will pay for the petrol in the union bosses XR8 when that happens?

      • IrishBill 4.2.1

        Collective agreements set minimum standards Burt. Individual workers can and do negotiate individual terms and conditions above the collective by talking directly to the boss. I’d suggest you may want to do your homework before you spout off and expose your ignorance again.

  5. If you have a job, thank a capalitist, if you like in wellington, thank peter jackson, if you work hard and got a bonus, thank a business person.

    There a lot of people to also thank for the economy apart from the Union.

    • And if you are a capitalist, a business person or you live in Wellington then thank a worker.

      Why is it that a post celebrating a gain for ordinary people gets the raspberry from the compulsory tugging of the forelock brigade?

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      The job would be there either way so why should I thank a capitalist for stealing from me?

      • Nick C 5.2.1

        Explain to me again Draco how capitalism involves theft? As Zeebop was saying above, capitalism is entirely voluntary. If you dont like it dont participate.

        • Colonial Viper 5.2.1.1

          Hey I want to collect my salary in food and other basic goods, so that I don’t have to use the capitalist banking and finance system. I don’t mind if the IRD take their cut of the produce too.

          So can you organise this for me since I don’t want to participate in capitalism and you think that its possible to simply choose to not participate?

          Or are is your suggestion actually unworkable?

          • Nick C 5.2.1.1.1

            “Hey I want to collect my salary in food and other basic goods”

            The concept of a medium of exchange known as money isnt a capitalist idea. Barter systems obviously dont work, so you need something to use. Many co-ops do invent other mediums of exchange (i.e. points systems for doing work) which are money in all but name.

            “capitalist banking and finance system”

            If its the capitalist finance system you’re worried about, put your money under a matress? There are many online finance forums where strangers lend money to other strangers, so you could probably get a loan without using a bank (although again you would probably regard this as capitalism).

            “Or are is your suggestion actually unworkable?”

            Well you could move to a commune, they do exist. If it were impossible its not because capitalism is cohersive, its because people would choose not to cooperate with you and you couldnt survive on your own. Thats because people vote with the decisions they make with their lives and choose capitalism.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.2

          Last time I looked, it wasn’t voluntary as it’s an integral part of our society.

          • Nick C 5.2.1.2.1

            Well yes it is, again thats only because people choose it. If millions or even thousands of people wanted to voluntarily become part of a commune there would be nothing stopping them. Its only the lack of people who want to do this which makes it impossible for the few individuals who actually want it to happen.

        • Akldnut 5.2.1.3

          As Zeebop was saying above, capitalism is entirely voluntary. If you dont like it dont participate.

          Capitalism isn’t voluntary if you live in NZ. At some stage you must pay the piper whether you want to or not.

    • Vicky32 5.3

      So, Sean, I can unthank a capitalist for the fact that she ran her company so poorly that I and a heap of others are now unemployed. And I can unthank the capitalists who want to hire gum-chewing big-breasted teens to decorate their offices, instead of clever admin staff?
      I unthank them all!
      As for Welly, I will live there, but PJ will have nothing to do with it, thank Heaven!

  6. Rharn 6

    Excellent post. Especially the bit about how the bosses have never given the workers anything without a struggle.

    On a side issue the demise of two most leading unions the freezing workers and the wharfies have left a gap in the union movement. Everybody hated these guys but the conditions that they paved were in most cases picked up by the less agressive unions and in this way the general conditions of the working class and white collar unions improved. A fact that is ‘forgotten’ today.

  7. Nick K 7

    Unions exist to work for our rights. If you enjoy decent conditions at work, it you’re enjoying your long weekend, and Labour Day, why not thank a unionist!

    Um, er, I have excellent working conditions, including pay and others. I didn’t involve a unionist to get me those. I did it myself.

    So I’ll pat myself on the back.

    Thanks anyway.

    • KJT 7.1

      Yeah right.
      Your base 40 hour week, free education, lunch breaks, etc, etc ,etc.

      If you are a Lawyer, Doctor, Accountant, Engineeer, manufacturer, Farmer, thank your Union too.

    • burt 7.2

      KJT

      Will you be at the rally carrying a big banner saying “thank the unions for this rally” ?

      • KJT 7.2.1

        I should be there with a banner saying thanks to the RWNJ’s who think we should just lie down and accept dropping into the third world.

    • burt 7.3

      If you are a Lawyer, Doctor, Accountant, Engineeer, manufacturer, Farmer, thank your Union too.

      Yes thank them that their self serving antics and outdated bully boy “stick it to the man” tactics resulted in the removal of compulsory unionism such that these professions could be free of unions and their parasitic self serving ways.

      • lprent 7.3.1

        Many of those professions still have unions. They’re just called associations, councils, socities, etc but have many similar characteristics to the olde style unions you are condemning. In particular a requirement they they say who can and cannot work in their skills areas – usually backed up by legislation enforcing guild rules.

        Consider the Law society, the medical council, chartered accountants, and I am pretty sure the engineers as well.

        Basically you should really think about what you’re saying before making yourself look like such a pilock

        • jcuknz 7.3.1.1

          I think that long before we had unions as the industrial society developed there were groups of individuals who got together and controlled their ‘industry/ activities’ such as goldsmiths, et al.
          Maybe, I think there could be a lesson there for unions. Crying poor is nonsense because from little acorns great oak grow …

        • Rex Widerstrom 7.3.1.2

          Just a wee correction… the Medical Council is the disciplinary body. The Colleges (like the Royal NZ College of GPs, on whose behalf I used to shill) are the profesisonal standards and contnuing medical education bodies. It’s the NZ Medical Association which is the main doctors’ union, though hosptial registrars etc also have their own bodies.

          Personally I think that’s a good structure – discipline etc completely separate from standards, both of which are completely separate from self-interest. Unlike, say, the Law Society :-/

          • lprent 7.3.1.2.1

            Good point. While the iPad is great, you can’t overlap windows when you want to look something up. My laptop is down at present getting an upgrade to ubuntu 10.10 for testing.

            The separation of powers is a good idea. If the IPCA ever got some real judicial powers over the police, I’d love that. As it is their powers are just advisory and ignorable.

          • Colonial Viper 7.3.1.2.2

            Seriously, is there anyone in this country you haven’t worked for, Rex.

      • KJT 7.3.2

        The most self serving and effective unions (For their members) are the law society. followed closely by Federated Farmers.

        Cooks and Stewards would have killed for the gravy train that is our court system.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.4

      Actually, all the working conditions that you enjoy today are a result of unions. If they hadn’t struggled for them then your conditions would be what they were in the 19th century.

  8. Murray 8

    A bit ironic that on a day that supposedly celebrates unions the majority of people marching today will be trying to resolve a stuff up caused by unions.
    If the Hobbit does go off shore do we then thank a Unionist.

    • If the Hobbit does go offshore, the Union’s reputation will be damaged forever.

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        Unions aren’t going to buckle under big business blackmail, especially when those foreign corporates have the gall to blatantly threaten the NZ Government and the NZ economy through their NZ agents, under a guise of preventing NZ workers from organising to get minimum terms and conditions.

        • Murray 8.1.1.1

          So when the Hobbit goes offshore and thousands of jobs are lost we can all be happy in the fact that the union didn’t buckle.

          Looks like the unions have already buckled and are on the run

          • Carol 8.1.1.1.1

            I admire the way LOTR fans are so easily stimulated to write innovative fanfic. Good imaginations and A+ for effort.

          • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1.2

            Murray, I can understand why as a country we need drippings from the Lord of the Rings Table. We have high unemployment, a lack of skilled high wage work on our shores. It would be a huge shame to lose The Hobbit and there would be a lot of downstream negative consequences for us.

            But corporate blackmail of the entire of NZ should also be realised for what it is. Also the foreign pressure – through their local agents – to turn our back on our fellow NZ workers in their search for the same minimum terms and conditions that every other successful film industry country utilises. Workers are asking for a few hundred thousand dollars worth of minimum pay and conditions on a US$500M project, thats all.

            And this entire fracas presents a strong argument for emphasising the importance of regaining our economic sovereignty. Australian banks pump a billion or more NZD out of our economy every quarter. And no one even blinks. A much smaller sum put at risk from losing The Hobbit location shoots, and its emergency stations for everybody from the PM downwards.

            I’m glad people are waking up to the issues.

            • Murray 8.1.1.1.2.1

              I totally agree with you there, often the harsh reality of what we have to settle for is far removed from what is right.
              It is also rather ironic that at this moment I am drafting a list of issues that are confronting us in our workplace.
              We are classed as Independent Contractors mush like the Film Workers, However we have essentially only one so called employer that we can contract to.
              So they have got us by the short and curly s and we are being screwed left right and center.
              It essentially comes down to do we want to stay in business and what are we prepared to accept or do we walk away and lose our income and the considerable investments we have in plant and machinery.
              Welcome to the real world.

              • IrishBill

                You’ve got the option of taking legal action to define yourselves as employees and thus gain access to work rights. However that would take months, perhaps years.

                Alternatively you could set up a contractors association and try to find a way to negotiate without breaching the commerce act. There are ways to do it but they rely on good faith from your “employer”.

                A further alternative is to set up a company in which you are all shareholders and employees and then have that company negotiate the contract for you. However this is only likely to work if your “employer” has nowhere else to go for labour.

                The truth is that under current law there’s no satisfactory answer. But whatever you decide to do, I hope it works out for you.

                • Murray

                  We are in a contractors association and are trying to negotiate. In the past we have been trying to negotiate from the bottom up but as a last resort we are going to try from the top down. As you probably know its a minefield.
                  Always someone more desperate then us and will take the work no matter how low paid.
                  Its a matter of knowing when to push and when to back off.
                  Independent Contractor seems to be a very gray area with lots of room for employers to maneuver and not much room for the contractor

                  • IrishBill

                    My advice is to keep everyone in the association as well informed as possible. A closed facebok group can help. And to see if the more well off in the group will help out the most desperate (anything from food parcels to interest-free loans to a job network for their family members).

                    You may also want to get some of the more supportive partners of workers to put together a partners group. Often the most pressure to split from the collective in tight situations can come from inside the home.

                    Independent contracting is a very grey area. The law needs to be changed to allow access to the ERA.

    • KJT 8.2

      No. I am still wondering why people are rallying now instead of anytime over the last 25 years when industry’s that earned the country billions were wrecked by Government inaction.
      Billions in earnings go offshore for lack of tax breaks or incentives to conform to neo-liberal dogma.
      I know of one industry alone which would have saved us 500 million a year in overseas earnings for a 30 million tax break.

      Thank yourselves for lying down to get so f–ked that this is even important.

      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Hmmm. Maybe the sleeping are starting to awaken?

        wrecked by Government inaction.

        Then there is the action/inaction of advisors and the civil service.

  9. infused 9

    That’s a fine point. Unions were relevant, once. Not anymore.

    • Murray 9.1

      I’m not sure that I agree with that, There are plenty of employees out there that need protecting from bad employers. Until that is resolved We still need Unions.

  10. Jim Nald 10

    A mixture of celebration that Parnell stood his ground resulting in more humane working conditions passed down to us and of sadness about the latest incident over The Hobbit.

    Why would we begrudge our fellow citizens to negotiate for better terms?

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Ask Jackson, Walsh, Boyens. I’m sure they each sat down personally and negotiated with the studio bosses pretty hard at the meeting table, with their advisors along side them.

      But they would prevent ordinary workers from doing exactly what they did.

  11. M 11

    People who say we don’t need unions are like those who think the women’s movement has done nothing but harm.

    Unfortunately, those who benefit from hard-won rights for workers are often the first to disparage them, but what if their minimum standards were to disappear overnight? National I’m sure are livid that the minimum wage exists while a lot of their supporters make obscene amounts of money per hour, but I guess that’s the only way they can feel good about themselves – by having something to lord over other people.

    Saw a documentary once about the textile mills in the newly industrial England and how many children met their deaths by crawling under the machinery to collect lint from the fabric making process. If they did not time their scurrying perfectly they were toast. Righties of course will bray that we’re far too civilised to allow such things now but look at any third world country and this is still happening because there are no controls on what bosses may do or require of workers. National is trying to wrest any form of power workers have from their hands.

  12. SHG 12

    I’m watching live streaming coverage of thousands of people marching the streets all over NZ right now. I can’t make out what they’re saying, but I’m not entirely certain that it’s “thank you unionists”.

    • SHG

      Do you have a link to the live stream of the marches?

    • Colonial Viper 12.2

      Couldn’t find anything on TV One or TV3 a few minutes ago. Marches were supposed to start at 1pm right?

      • Anthony C 12.2.1

        According to tweets about 300 in Auckland, 1500 in Wellington, supposedly Christchurch has a poor turn out though no numbers.

        • Carol 12.2.1.1

          Hmmm , so nothing like the turnout on the Oct 20th union day of action then? And Key said that was too small an amount for it to be significant or influential.

          • Colonial Viper 12.2.1.1.1

            I’m actually just glad that NZ’ers have shaken off their usual complacency to turn up and voice their personal concerns in public.

            People need to understand though – our manufacturing and export base employs far more people than films, and generates an order of magnitude more revenues for the country, hence their relative ability to turn out protestors.

  13. More and more people are joining the Wellington one as it goes on according to twitter. Not sure about Auckland or Christchurch.

  14. Its great to see such a peaceful rally with no hate, unlike some others.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      Bringing up the politics of hate Sean? Too obvious my friend, too obvious.

      What’s your next play, an appeal to the politics of Envy and Greed?

      • Carol 14.1.1

        Not sure what the comparisons are with. There was generally good feeling on the very large anti-schedule 4 mining demo in Auckland. And on the Oct 20th Union rallies. I understand even the protests in France are not really as violent or ill-tempered as a lot of our media make out.

      • Sean Brooks 14.1.2

        Colonial:

        Its great to see a protest, where people protest for something, not against, its also great to see a protest that doesnt get hijacked by splinter groups, just a group of people wanting something to stay in NewZealand for the good of New Zealand.

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.2.1

          Ah sorry I thought you were taking up the usual right wing PR meme of ‘haters and wreckers’.

          I agree with you it is great to see NZ’ers stepping forwards to express what they believe is good for NZ, for their own cities and their own communities. Just awesome.

          • Sean Brooks 14.1.2.1.1

            Colonial:

            Yes it is awesome, and if this thing goes ahead, its going to be bring in a lot for our country.

          • Rex Widerstrom 14.1.2.1.2

            the usual right wing PR meme of ‘haters and wreckers’

            ZOMG!11!!1 The VRWC penetrated the office of the previous Prime Minister and tricked her into treating protesters with contempt!! 😯

            The elites (whatever the colour of the flag they’re flying) have long thought the peasants are revolting, Colonial. Pretending one side doesn’t is a tad disingenuous.

        • Anthony C 14.1.2.2

          Ah splinter groups like those represented by David Farrar, Young nat’s etc?

          Yes no ulterior motives there at all, move along people.

          • Colonial Viper 14.1.2.2.1

            Oh I am sure that ordinary New Zealanders came up with signs like “Union Tactics Wrecking Our Film Industry” 🙄

        • Carol 14.1.2.3

          Except maybe for the one or two people the news media are highlighting who are carrying anti-union placards?

          Many unionists want the Hobbit to be filmed in NZ too. Not mutually exclusive.

  15. Carol 15

    Ack. My post at Red Alert has gone into moderation. But a claim on Red Alert that the nasty MEAA union stopped a specific film being made in Aussie seems a little off the mark, or at least contestable. Many people seem to have swallowed the MSM line that MEAA has been damaging in Aussie, without really checking if that is so.

    Actually, there were several reasons given by fans for the cancellation of that movie, not the least being lack of enthusiasm for it by fans:
    http://www.movieweb.com/news/NE31R9344jKY5c

    seems like all of the negative buzz on Justice League: Mortal, from questions about casting to George Miller’s problems with Australia’s tax rebate, to poor reviews of the script have taken their toll. According to CHUD, producer Joel Silver says that Justice League: Mortal is tabled for now.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      The Hobbit has been subject to multiple delays and risks of falling over for well over a year now.

    • SHG 15.2

      Carol:
      A big-production example:

      Sydney looks set to lose George Miller’s mega movie Justice League Mortal after it was refused the Federal Government’s new film production rebate.
      (…)
      “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Australian film industry is being frittered away because of very lazy thinking,” Miller said.

      “If that’s going to be the final decision, they’re throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that the rest of the world is competing for and, much more significantly, highly skilled creative jobs.”
      (…)
      The director of the equity section of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Simon Whipp, has lobbied against Justice League Mortal’s eligibility, describing it as an American story that will be performed in American accents.

      http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/mega-movie-refused-rebate/2008/03/18/1205602383792.html

      A little-production example:

      SYDNEY — Film company, MOD Films, employing Creative Commons licensing, was refused any dispensation from the Australian Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) to contract local actors to an interactive re-mixable sci-fi film called Sanctuary. The decision on Wednesday brings to a halt an AU$100,000 short film shoot scheduled this month by preventing actors from being contracted under the MEAA award, despite letters of support from all the principal actors.

      The MEAA Board decided that it could grant none of the dispensations sought by MOD Films, on the grounds that these would be “inappropriate”. The production had asked for dispensations and support for its world-first plans to employ professional actors in a film with only “Some Rights Reserved” by the production company. The company intends to permit non-commercial use and re-voicing of the film by the audience. The MEAA also rejected the option of any further negotiations with MOD Films.

      http://rights.apc.org.au/culture/2005/03/meaa_halts_worldfirst_film_project_in_australia.php

      Summary: The MEAA shuts down a film because it’s a Creative Commons project intended for remixing and adaptation by the Australian short film community. See, SIMON WHIPP decides how a film is produced and shown, not some goddamn communist indie film geeks.

      I think this is what Helen Clark refers to as “hating and wrecking”.

  16. Carol 16

    Is there going to be widespread international interest in another Tolkein-based film, or is it only dedicated fans and Kiwis that will be interested? That’s the big uncertain punt.

    • SHG 16.1

      That’s like asking if there’s going to be widespread international interest in another Lucas-based film.

      People aren’t interested in The Hobbit because it’s based on a a book written by Tolkein, they’re interested in The Hobbit because it’s a prequel to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

      • Vicky32 16.1.1

        Speak for yourself! If all this rubbish hadn’t put me off so bad, I would have watched it because of Tolkien. But Peter Jackson’s actions was put me right off…
        Deb

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.2

        Yeah i’ll watch The Hobbit when it comes on to free to air TV in 2015.

  17. Gotham 17

    Anyone able to explain Celia Wade-Brown’s presence at the Wellington protest?

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      Good of the Mayor-elect to be there to address a large crowd of concerned Wellingtonians. Would be interested in the specifics of what she spoke about.

    • Carol 17.2

      Simple. She wants the Hobbit to stay in NZ & thinks it’s good for Wellington. She said earlier in the week she would be happy to talk to Warners to explain the value of the film being based in Welly. What’s so hard to understand about that?

      • Carol 17.2.1

        http://www.voxy.co.nz/entertainment/keep-hobbit-where-it-belongs-says-mayor/5/68784

        Mayor-elect Celia Wade-Brown today sent a strong message that The Hobbit should stay where it belongs – in Wellington and New Zealand.

        She said: “I fully support the production of the Hobbit in New Zealand. There is a terrible danger that Wellington could lose hundreds of talented workers and a very important skills base if producers lose confidence in us as a production centre.

        “Apart from missing out on the direct benefits of making the Hobbit films here, such as the millions in direct spend and the inevitable boost to tourism, there are thousands of jobs across the city which would be affected if the big films stopped coming here.”

        She laughed off suggestions that her appearance at a union rally this week meant her support for the project was anything other than staunch.

        “I believe in fair employment and good jobs. There is nothing in that which is inconsistent with seeking to protect jobs in Wellington. It seems to me that people in the film industry here are more than happy to be working for Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor.”

      • Gotham 17.2.2

        Hey settle Gretel. I was honestly asking if someone could explain what Celia had said at the march. I saw her only in a spit second on the News, and considering she attended the union-organised march on Parliament last week, I thought she might have had something concilitory to say at the protest today.

        • Colonial Viper 17.2.2.1

          Ah, we’re probably just a bit jumpy at the moment given the targetting that the unions have been getting over this movie.

          • Anne 17.2.2.1.1

            Done my bit for Labour Day. Posted a letter to TVNZ chief executive, Rick Ellis containing a formal complaint re-the appalling bully-boy behaviour (no, didn’t use those words) towards Helen Kelly on yesterday’s Q&A. Bloody good letter it is too – she says immodestly. Under no allusions that the outcome will be anything other than a weak “yes, we know Holmes is a bit naughty but we’re not going to (publicly) chastise him”. Doesn’t matter. There will be other complaints for sure, and coming on top of the Paul Henry Affair they will take notice!

            • SHG 17.2.2.1.1.1

              Take notice? To laugh at, maybe. No way any attention is getting paid to a complaint about treatment given to Kelly when the TVNZ poll has “I blame the union” at 90%.

            • Sean Brooks 17.2.2.1.1.2

              Anne:

              If the Hobbit gets moved out of New Zealand, it will take more than a few bloody good letters, to help her reputation, her name will be mud, and rightfully so.

              • Colonial Viper

                her name will be mud, and rightfully so.

                The Right are really afraid of Helen Kelly. Interesting how they would continually, albeit ineffectually, attack the one honest broker in this process.

                Jackson’s name on the other hand is toast, with Government (Brownlee and English in particular), the CTU and Equity. We’ve seen the true colours of his flag now.

                • Colonial:

                  I dont think so, Jackson seems to have the facts on his side, while Kelly is all over the place.

                  The left tried to play on people’s emotions and totally misjudge this one.

                  Fingers are crossed, the Hobbit will be saved.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Facts? Interesting, I don’t believe that there are any verifiable facts in this case, only leverage.

                    What I think we can agree on however is that over the unions and the Government, Jackson and Warner Bros have US$500M worth of leverage, the other parties merely have anxiety.

                    Brownlee and the NZPA know more than they are letting on as they were there in meetings between the parties or saw the documentation of discussions, however that info will not come into the public domain in a hurry.

              • Anne

                oops… illusion – not allusion. Had a busy day.

                Since you are apparently unable to comprehend the difference Sean Brooks…
                I’m not talking about the rights and wrongs of the Hobbit issue. It’s about a broadcaster who, during the course of an on-air interview, failed to uphold certain standards of behaviour as laid out in the Code of Broadcasting Practice.

                SHG. I wouldn’t be too sure about that. They’re pretty sensitive to complaints at this point in time.

                • Jim Nald

                  Good on you for putting in a complaint.
                  My blood pressure shot up when I watched the video.
                  I’m debating whether to put in a complaint myself … at the risk of my personal health while I write it out.
                  Hope to see you around at a conference in the near future, Anne.

                  • Anne

                    @ Jim Nald
                    Yes, I know what you mean. I watched the video of the interview as I was typing and had to stop it otherwise the tone of the letter would have been as offensive as the interview I was complaining about. 😉

                    If you go to the post “Some clarity on the Hobbit dispute” and scroll down to Lazy Susan (sure she’s not the least bit lazy) 24Oct.10:57am, you will find a direct link to the Broadcasting Standards site. It tells you how to submit a formal compliant. Do it Jim. The more complaints they receive the better.
                    (One of these days I will get someone to show me how to do the link thing)

  18. Anne:

    Im pretty sure if a journo went after someone on the right, you wouldnt talk about holding up standards.

    I sure hope TVNZ (A news outfit I dont respect BTW, doesnt have to put up with a ton of letters everytime someone on the left gets interviewed hard)

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      I think you’ll find that Leftys have a pretty high regard for fair and equal treatment of all. Even spokespeople for the Right.

    • lprent 18.2

      That was the issue. He didn’t interview. He simply expressed his opinion talking over her. His herald article made it quite clear what his opinion was. That was the entire tenor of his ‘interview’ which he didn’t bother to disguse. The guy is a idiot dongle without any professionalism. He shouldn’t be hosting a political current affairs programme.

      • M 18.2.1

        Don’t read the scandal mags (gaaaaaaaa!) – maybe he hasn’t had a cover or story for a while and is feeling the lack of attention.

    • Lazy Susan 18.3

      TVNZ have no idea letting Holmes front a political show, he’s a complete disgrace. He has no credibility as an independent host and his lack of research and knowledge is appalling.

      He’d sit comfortably on Fox News but has no place on our public broadcaster. I want to see informed political debate, not a lynch mob, he’s an embarrasment and should go.

  19. Colonial Viper 19

    Mods, have you noticed that Sean Brooks webpage link is to a spam site?

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