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Lamington’s Stupidity (and why I hate the rent-a-crowd)

Written By: - Date published: 12:58 pm, March 10th, 2012 - 86 comments
Categories: len brown, Unions - Tags: , , ,

I’m no fan of the people who threw the Lamington at Len Brown. They are the same crew who waltz into every social movement in Auckland, suck the life out of it and move on.

(And, those of you who read my Dear Len letter know I’m not a fan of Len Brown either.)

But the only winner out of this lamington incident was the Port’s board and the (I’m sure) the self-image of the egotistical morons who threw it. It cost the Maritime Union. It belittled those of us who are infuriated at the Mayor’s response. And it was just plain stupid.

I’m interested in political communications because the only way to change the world is by inspiring, supporting and being relatable to ordinary workers and their families. How to engage with them, learn from them, and change to make their lives better is the art of (left-wing) political comms.

The Lamington incident set back the otherwise quite well run (sure not perfect) Maritime Union PR campaign.

The Maritime Union started on the back foot. There was immense message saturation of, frankly, lies.

They built a campaign around families, values and about work life balance. They asked New Zealanders to think about their lives and how they rely on knowing their shifts to plan child care, social life, sport and generally being a human being.

The Lamington turned people off. Sure not the readers of this blog, but the ordinary people who I door knock in central, west and south Auckland. They hate this stuff. They’ll switch off. And it will be that much harder to get them to re-engage with the cause. It’s an example of why it’s so hard to get them to engage politically at all.

It’s exactly these people who the campaign needs to reach out to: they voted for Len brown and Labour (if they did vote); it’s their industries that the breaking of the Maritime union will flow into; they feel the brunt of the loss of conditions; they feel the brunt of a National government.

Politics should be about them. Not the self-congratulating gratification some idiot gets for throwing something at the Mayor.

I know it’s just a lamington. But it’s an example of stupid things that just keep pushing non-voters and infrequent voters away: politics not about them and their struggling.

So, next time, have a brain. Please.

Then again, I doubt they speak to anyone else other than the voices in their own head.

Also Josie Pagani is an idiot. We should put her on arbitrary hours and see how she finds it getting a mortgage or arranging childcare.

Jimmy Reid

86 comments on “Lamington’s Stupidity (and why I hate the rent-a-crowd) ”

  1. Jenny 1

    I know it’s just a lamington. But it’s an example of stupid things that just keep pushing non-voters and infrequent voters away…

    Jimmy Reid

    I fully agree Jimmy, In my opinion this was a childish counter productive action that will hurt the wharfies.

    Whether it will hurt Mayor Brown is another question.

    In my opinion I feel that as well as hurting the wharfies, this sort of thing actually helps Mayor Brown. Now the Mayor can pose as the victim to the public, while painting the wharfies and their supporters as irresponsible and reckless.

    Maybe the people who resorted to this outlandish antic were frustrated at the lack of action against Mayor Brown by the Labour Party.

    If the Labour Party took some sanction against Brown, (as well as being a powerful act of solidarity with the wharfies union). A Labour Party sanction of some kind could go a long way to removing the feelings of frustration and hopelessness at the Mayor’s behaviour, that has driven some people to indulge in pointless individual stunts that achieve nothing, at best and alienate many, at worse.

    • Grumpy 1.1

      Why? Brown didn’t stand as a Labour candidate

      • Jenny 1.1.1

        What did he stand as then?

        • Populuxe1

          I was under the impression that the post was Mayor of Auckland – a role, which as far as I’m aware, doesn’t oblige him to follow any particular party line…. Though in saying that, he more or less campaigned on Leftish principles and is acting like a bit of a hypocrite and whore.

    • Tiger Mountain 1.2

      Being “lamingtoned” may become the kiwi equivalent of the infamous mid East Dubya shoe throw.

      Relatively non violent and indicates disapproval of a politicians actions.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Anyone who thinks that more politeness, more decorum, more manners and less emotionalism is going to win the day for the wharfies is mistaken, IMO.

    • millsy 2.1


      In any case, Len Brown is toast next year, which would be a pity, as some right wing nutter will get in and start closing down parks and libararies. If someone like Sandra Lee (as suggested by one blogger) stands, it would split the left vote.

      At least John Banks would be out of it.

      • Jenny 2.1.1

        Len Brown through his behaviour is making himself unelectable, making sure that the city will be ruled by a right wing cabal for the next ten years.

        None of us will be motivated to deliver leaflets or door knock or erect his billboards, or donate to his campaign. Without this support he cannot win.

        To avoid this Labour needs to immediately announce that they will be backing a new candidate for Mayor of Auckland in next year’s election. Someone electable and someone we could all get behind to turn back the right

        Mayor Brown is not an option.

        Labour need to do this soon, and not leave it till it is to late, or otherwise the Mayoralty will be handed over to the extreme right.

      • Fortran 2.1.2

        The other Lee – Mike, not his ex wife.

  3. Adele 3

    I lived in South Auckland when Len Brown was running for the Mayoralty of Manukau City. The previous Mayor had been in office for about 27 years and it was only through his retirement that Len Brown was able to come within cooee of the chains of office.

    Len Brown is a good bloke. He knows first-hand the struggles of the marginalised and the truly fucked over and hard done by. I just think he is between a rock and a hard place and the chains of office have been wound tight around his neck.

    • Jenny 3.1

      I just think he is between a rock and a hard place and the chains of office have been wound tight around his neck.


      You must be desperate, trying to defend Len Brown’s behaviour with cliche’s rather than facts:

      Adele, can I ask you, what do you mean?

      What are the facts behind your cliche’s?

      What is this hard place that you’re talking about that Len Brown is between?

      And who is it, who is wrapping the Mayoral Chains around his neck?

      Why can’t he unwrap these ‘metaphorical’ chains?

      Are you using metaphors because you have no facts to back them up?

      Come on Adele, there is no rock and a hard place, there are no chains wrapped around the Mayor’s neck preventing him acting. Len Brown himself has made it clear he could intervene if he so chose. He even claimed he had a mandate to do so. (which is true). He has just decided to ignore this mandate.

      • Than 3.1.1

        Assuming his goal is to be re-elected, then then rock is mainstream, centerist voters, and the hard place is his left-wing core supporters.

        Imagine Len Brown had sided with MUNZ, doing everything the law allows his office to support them. Obviously everybody on the left, and on this blog, would be singing his praises. But to a lot of people in the middle, the swing-voters… well to them it would have reeked of him being a far-left Union pawn, accepting their donations for political support. If Len had sided with MUNZ he would be forever tarred as “far-left”. That would cripple his chances of re-election.

        Of course by doing nothing he has lost the support from his left-wing base, so he probably still can’t win re-election. But this was the point – he did not have any (electorally) good option.

        • Vicky32

          Of course by doing nothing he has lost the support from his left-wing base, so he probably still can’t win re-election. But this was the point – he did not have any (electorally) good option.

          I agree! I don’t understand why he’s now so hated by Standardistas… IMO, he was being realistic…

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            “I will step into any situation where a council controlled body attacks its employees, and I make no apology for that.”

            There, fixed it for him.

      • Adele 3.1.2

        Comrade Jenny

        Perhaps I have hung around more Council offices than you have frequented Cossie Clubs.

        The only cliché in this discussion is you with your sanctimonious rants from the moral high ground. The air atop that lofty mountain of yours is obviously too thin to support common sense, reasonableness and the ability to decipher metaphor.

        Instead, we have this cock-eyed blindness interfaced with embittered thinking such that Len Brown is now viewed as the Prince of Darkness. Yeah right.

        • Jenny

          What a difference a day makes,
          24 little hours
          Just the sun and the flowers
          Where there used to be rain.

          Labour MPs including Labour leader David Shearer who yesterday stood with the many thousands of grass roots New Zealanders and dozens of overseas supporters, has moved the Labour mayor of Auckland, Len Brown to reconsider his previous hands off approach to the Ports of Auckland dispute.

          Today on current affairs programme Q+A the Mayor said he wanted to step in to the dispute between the parties to find a solution.

          MUNZ press release 11/03/12

          The leader of the Maritime Union, Gary Parsloe has warmly greeted the Mayor’s offer to step into the dispute to find a solution. And has offered to meet at any time on any day.

          • Jenny

            Mayor Brown has just put the death nail into the PoAL legal case that they are prepared to negotiate in good faith.

            PoAL is determined to lay off their unionised workforce and replace them with non-union contractors.

            There is no way that PoAl will agree to mediation with the union that has finding a solution to the dispute as it’s goal.

  4. Sookie 4

    I agree with the sentiment of this article. I was a supporter of Occupy Wall St, but I found the rent a mob participants in the various Occupations around NZ so frigging embarrassing it put me right off the whole thing. I think its important that the Wharfie’s cause remains as mainstream as possible, and doesn’t get hijacked by patchouli smelling losers.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      I’m inclined to agree Sookie. While it’s naturally dissapointing to have a Labour Mayor so closely linked to this debacle… I’m inclined to agree that there is a real limit to what Len can effectively achieve here in terms of the operations of PoAL.

      The real culprit is Rodney Hide who set up the Auckland Super City under a hideous corporate model. What we are seeing is just the first fallout from this.

      • Salsy 4.1.1

        But you could say that Rodneys hideous corporate model is why Aucklanders voted Len – to offset the balance. Question still remains as to why Len has taken the corporate side, its unforgivable. I have no issue with the lamington, I find it fitting as one of New Zealand’s highest insults.

      • Anne 4.1.2

        I’m inclined to agree with Redlogix…

        Len Brown is between a rock and a hard place (god I hate that expression but it’s apt). It was a cunning move by Rodney Hide and his RWNJ mates. They would have known that sooner or later Len was going to come up against their legislated corporate model, and that he would be powerless to act against it without serious repercussions. I remember when the Supershitty legislation was being debated in parliament and instinctively recognising there was a dirty great sting in the tail. The difficulty at the time was not knowing precisely what the sting was, and how it might happen. All gratitude to Phil Twyford for fighting against it tooth and nail even though he knew it was a lost cause.

        I hate this bastard government and their corporate mates as much as anyone else. Just please don’t let them drive wedges between us because that is exactly what they are trying to achieve.

        • Jenny

          Len Brown is between a rock and a hard place (god I hate that expression but it’s apt)


          I don’t think that is apt at all.

          Len Brown himself, has said “and I could” throw myself into the middle of this.

          And he now has….

          In his own words Len Brown said he had “a mandate” to, “on behalf of you all…. get in amongst that”.

          It is great news that he is now starting to honour that mandate.

          “The issue is, there is a huge temptation for me to throw myself into the middle of this, and I could.

          As the mayor of this city I’ve got a mandate and we certainly have the power
          because the company is 100% owned by our council on behalf of you all, and so I could get in amongst that.”

          Len Brown, From the Council Transcript PDF


        • Jenny

          It was a cunning move by Rodney Hide and his RWNJ mates. They would have known that sooner or later Len was going to come up against their legislated corporate model, and that he would be powerless to act against it without serious repercussions.


          Hi Anne. Now that Len Brown has finally decided to act. Can you tell us what the “serious repercussions” are?

          Don’t worry if you are unable to.

          It often amazes me how the right are able to frighten us with all sorts of vague mutterings about “serious repercussions” if we so much as dare to oppose their corporate model.

          Like all bullies when you finally stand up to them, you find it’s all bluff, smoke and mirrors.

          I do agree with you Anne, that the right are trying to drive wedges between us. I for one don’t want to see that happen. I am just so grateful that Len is starting to act on the mandate we gave him. His recent decision to become involved in this dispute, will do a lot to heal the rift that was developing on the left.

          • Anne

            Hi Anne. Now that Len Brown has finally decided to act. Can you tell us what the “serious repercussions” are?

            Don’t worry if you are unable to.

            Hello Jenny,
            I’m more than capable of telling you what I meant when I said “serious repercussions”.
            It was my understanding from various sources (no, not PoAL management) that the statutory requirements imposed on the Auckland City mayor and councillors are not unsimilar to that imposed on the PM and cabinet ministers. That is, they are not allowed to interfere in the day to day running of public entities/portfolios etc. and to do so, is to invite retaliation on the part of the management and/or workers involved.

            Now I know that in reality that is a bit over-simplified, and my understanding may not be correct. But it doesn’t matter too much because there is always a point when the scales get tipped so far in one direction, that interference of some sort becomes acceptable – even inevitible. I think that point was reached last week when the PoAL management sacked the striking workers while mediation was still in progress.

            It often amazes me how the right are able to frighten us with all sorts of vague mutterings about “serious repercussions” if we so much as dare to oppose their corporate model.

            If you are including me in that quote Jenny then I’m disappointed. My political leanings are, and always have been, to the left of the political spectrum – in some areas well to the left. Those who know me and know any of my political background could vouch for that.

            • Jenny

              It was my understanding from various sources (no, not PoAL management) that the statutory requirements imposed on the Auckland City mayor and councillors are not unsimilar to that imposed on the PM and cabinet ministers. That is, they are not allowed to interfere in the day to day running of public entities/portfolios etc. and to do so, is to invite retaliation….


              Hi Anne, I am glad that you are fully capable of telling me what you mean by “serious repercussions”, unfortunately you still haven’t. Could you? You will have to excuse me for being rude, because all I have heard so far is vague threats of “retaliation”, and hearsay about some possible “statutory requirements”.

              Let’s get specific:

              What retaliation?

              What statutory requirements are imposed on the Auckland City mayor and councillors that are similar to those imposed on PM and cabinet ministers?

              Can you tell me?

              If you can, I still wouldn’t worry. Because I am sure that if the makers of these veiled threats actually tried to carry them out, (what ever they are), against our Mayor they would face a public backlash like you wouldn’t believe.

              By invoking vague threats based on hearsay, is how the right keep us in line. When we finally stand up to these bullies, as the Mayor is now doing, all these threats turn to mist.

              P.S. Anne I was including you in the “us”.

              • Anne

                P.S. Anne I was including you in the “us”.

                Thanks for the clarification. Sometimes the written word can appear to mean something different than is intended.

                I think your views and mine are closer than it may seem. There’s no doubting whose side I’m on and that is the union. But it doesn’t stop me putting myself in the place of those perceived to be on the other side of the fence. In this case, I refer to Len Brown and David Shearer in particular. Whether we like it or not I believe they genuinely feel constrained by the corporate style statutory limits set by Rodney Hide and his band of right-wing henchmen. It doesn’t stop me wishing they had intervened much sooner but whether it would have made a difference I don’t know. Lynn Prentice has come up with an intriguing post “Why I think that Auckland is getting scammed” and it suggests there’s a way to go yet before this nasty dispute is over.

                Lets leave it at that. I’m tired and off to bed soon.

  5. JamesGeorge 5

    “renta mob” eh. When labour party sucks are dragging out Muldoon’s old cliches it shows how desperate they believe their situation is.
    So instead of piling the pressure on Brown and his neo-liberal fellow travellers, labourish sucks turn their attack on to the actions of one citizen who had the cheek to actually show his/her feelings about this sellout of working kiwis.

    “How positively horrid. Throwing a lamington at the mayor. It just shows what low types those lefties are. It’s downright embarassing, I mean to say, a lamington, who eats lamingtons? A real kiwi would have thrown a panini or a bagel.”

    Of course uptight bourgeois drop kicks won’t like the lamington incident, but those types are never gonna support the wharfies anyway.

    • George D 5.1

      Of course uptight bourgeois drop kicks won’t like the lamington incident, but those types are never gonna support the wharfies anyway.

      Or, you might believe that a large number of the lower and middle classes in New Zealand have bourgeois sensibilities, offended by petty violence and crimes against decorum.

    • Jimmy Reid 5.2

      Thanks JamesGeorge. It’s not everyday that someone misses the entire point of the blog post and yet illustrates the exact point made in the post. That’s pretty incredible.

      Notice how you said nothing about the Maritime Union’s campaign? Thats the point some person wants to throw a Lamington to make themselves better- in order to justify their own “holier than thou” attitude despite the fact they have not achieved a single thing to make working peoples lives better.

      But hey, who cares if it undermines the Maritime Unions carefully crafted “we’re just like you” narrative. Because the campaigns about us. Our egos. Not their jobs.

      And its kind of ironic to call me bourgeois when your comment shows that you obviously don’t talk to working class people. 95% of them would have switched off when confronted with some privileged uni student throwing their toys out the cot.

      The only way to keep the heat on Brown and the Council is t show them they’ll lose support if they don’t act. Throwing Lamingtons does the opposite. Check out the contrast on his FB page between his statement on the Ports and the (well handled) post on the Lamington attack.

    • Jenny 5.3

      I suppose, having a lamington thrown at you is a Kiwi cultural insult. It could have been worse. Luckily we are not a Moslem country, or he could’ve been hit with a shoe.

      The whole world cheered when that insult was attemptedly delivered to George Bush.

      But Len Brown is no George Bush and does not deserve that sort of insult. In my opinion he was just a bit misguided and is now starting to find his way again.

      Good for him.

  6. Campbell Larsen 6

    Then again, I doubt they speak to anyone else other than the voices in their own head.

    Jimmy I think you could have made your point without suggesting that people who chose to protest in a different manner to you are mentally unwell. Stigmatization and discrimination is no joke.
    You seem to think the lamington was counter productive, but you can hardy claim the moral high ground when you dismiss another’s protest action using such sentiments.

    • Anne 6.1

      Come on CL. I think Jimmy was just talking figuratively – or metaphorically if you prefer.

      • QoT 6.1.1

        Using mental illness “figuratively” or “metaphorically” to imply lack of rationality, lack of sense, lack of intelligence, all increase the stigma about mental illness, Anne. That’s kind of the whole point.

        • Jimmy Reid

          You’re right. It was a poor choice of words that was not properly thought out. I apologise if any offence was taken.

          The point I was trying to convey was that they talk to themselves (their group) about how great they are and how they are holding people to account and don’t engage with actual working people. And that’s fine. But when they undermine campaigns they become liabilities because of their own warped self-image.

          I should have made my point without that last line.

        • Anne

          Point taken QoT.

        • Populuxe1

          Oh tosh! Language is contingent in any iteration – something pretty much agreed on from Wittgenstein to Rorty. If you start caving into this sort of oversensitive censorial Politically Correct nonsense for fear of hurting the broad and undefined feelings of vague and abstract entities, you might as well throw out all metaphor and literature right now. Have a good book burning. What is really patronising is your assumption that the mentally ill are incapable of telling the difference between metaphor and personal attack. Many of those metaphors arise, I might add, in the work of people who actually suffer/ed from those conditions. People like you are the philistine Borg of the aesthetics of social conscience and discourse.

  7. muzza 7

    If I wanted to distract a message away form the key issues, what would I do.

    Note to self – Throw soft cake at Mayor.

    Job Done!

  8. Josie Pagani 8

    First calling me an idiot when what you mean is you disagree with me, undermines your point about the Lamingtons. Second I AM on arbitrary hours and it really is tough to organise mortgages and childcare. That’s my point. People who’s jobs are already contracted out or casual need some advocacy too. Given that it’s a reality for hundreds or thousands of New Zealanders, you still have to answer the question about how you’re going to be there for these people. Pretending that the workforce looks like it did even ten years ago, and abusing anyone who says we should represent people whose jobs have been changed, abandons huge numbers of working New Zealanders.

    • Bill 8.1

      Backpeddling. Furiously!

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 8.2

      There’s a big difference between supporting them and justifying casualisation. The fifth Labour government provided the second easiest business environment in the world (although of course the current race to the bottom has seen us slip a notch) but still these business bludgers want more and more.

      Time to start rolling back the attacks on workers’ rights that enable casualisation, time to remind capitalists that the country does not exist for their benefit. This is how you support causal workers: you raise the minimum wage, strengthen their bargaining rights and re-introduce penal rates that apply automatically.

      • Bill 8.2.1

        Last time I looked at the issue of casualisation, it transpired that it’s well nigh impossible to be a truly casual employee. There must be no expectation of work and no pattern of work. If you work one day every two weeks and the day varies, you ain’t casual.

        That means you’re covered by the provisions of the ERA.

        But you aren’t covered by the ERA if you are a contractor…

        • RedLogix

          Well Josie DOES have a point; that the old blue collar/cloth cap model of unions does not well represent the majority of workers in this country.

          One of the most basic problems is that as soon as you transition from hour paid rates to individually paid salaries the whole mechanism of collective bargining breaks down.

          Increasingly people are not doing the kind of work that is easily measured in terms of hours or simple output. Increasingly we are doing sales, marketing, programming, planning, asset management, engineering, counselling, policy advising, logistics management, troubleshooting, maintenance, CAD work, contract supervision, quality testing, medical labs… on and on.

          Not to mention Shearers army of small business people and contractors doing their GST returns on their kitchen tables.

          It’s not easy or obvious to negotiate a collective around this kind of work and unions have struggled to find a model that is either or appropriate or appealing to these people… and I don’t think Pagani is being an idiot for saying so.

          • just saying

            Where was Pagani called and “idiot”?
            Shouldn’t she take up her issue with that commenter, rather than complain about it somewhere else?

          • Bill

            ye..nah. What Josie said was that casualisation/contracting out is ‘inevitable’ and therefore shouldn’t be opposed and energies put into providing an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff instead.

            She also conflated casualisation and flexibility.

            Flexibility would offer me (as an employee) some lee way to juggle work and home responsibilities. It’s vaguely empowering.

            Casualisation/contracting locks me to the whims of those running the workplace. It’s totally disempowering.

            On the issue of the ERA simply not applying to many work situations (a point Josie didn’t actually make), the simple and obvious answer is to make it apply. A good first step would be to outlaw employment agencies.

          • Kotahi Tane Huna

            RL, If the problem is measuring the value of people’s work, how does it follow that the solution is to pay them less and insist they casualise their hours?

            Why don’t Australians have the same problem?

            • RedLogix

              No it doesn’t follow at all. I agree totally with you. So does Jose Pagani I dare say.

              In my case I belong to the EPMU… but as a salaried employee the collective is meaningless to me. As our staff become increasingly skilled and technical this trend is accelerating. Very soon there will be none of us left on hourly rates… and that point the collective becomes pointless.

              Yet I would still prefer to remain a member of the union… even though it struggles to find a way to represent me meaningfully. If nothing else I want protection from some arsehole middle manager appearing on the scene and making my life miserable.

              But in terms of negotiating on my behalf for better pay or conditions… forget it.

              And similar situations like this arise everywhere. At first the trend started at the higher skill levels, middle management, sales, marketing, accounts and so on, but now it is reaching into all departments. And with the rise of sub-contracting out non-core activties (it started with the cleaning ladies decades ago) there are huge numbers of people working that unions can no longer effectively represent within their current model.

              I see that as a huge problem… and in that vacuum employers will increasingly seek to marginalise and casualise their workers; especially those with relatively low skills and ‘market’ value.

              Why don’t Australians have the same problem?

              Well that’s a good question. Part of the answer is that unions there have adapted better than here and probably there is something we can learn from them. Another part is that there is still a fair amount of aggro and resentment in Australia around ‘mafia unions’ wielding too much power.

              • Josie Pagani

                RedLogix nails it.

                I’m not back-peddling on my original comments, as some have suggested.

                The issue from the beginning has been workers who are already on casual contracts, sub-contracting, or on short term fixed term contracts, and the many more who are going to be in the future.

                Bill is saying, ‘that mustn’t happen, and we must not let it.’ But misses the point that it is happening, and for hundreds of thousands of people, it already has.

                How do we safeguard their rights to annual leave, sick pay, decent hours and decent wages, if they can’t negotiate significant wage increases to cover the loss of those rights?

                It’s not good enough to walk away from these people because their jobs don’t fit the picture.

                Bill makes the point that flexibility and casualisation are not the same thing. Conceptually this is true, but in practice it isn’t really, and it’s becoming less so, and that’s certainly the experience of a lot of working mums whose jobs were probably once more traditional.

                That’s why I think we won’t be credible as opponents of bad cases of casualisation, if we don’t also accept that some forms of flexibility suit some people.

                As RedLogix writes, there’s a vacuum where Unions could be. If we’re not there for people already casualised, or likely to be casualised in the future, who is?

                This is a debate between realism and idealism. Although I’m driven by ideals that say we should be there for as many working New Zealanders as possible.

                • Kotahi Tane Huna

                  “Many more who are going to be in the future”. Oh, really?

                  Let’s see, what could a Labour-led government do to prevent increased exploitation and casualisation? Wring your hands some more?

                  • RedLogix

                    Oh come on…we’ve both made a valid point that deserves a better response.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      How is predicting that more and more workers are going to be casualised exploited equate to making a “valid point”?

                      You speak as though these changes in the Labour market just sort of appeared out of thin air, as opposed to being at the very least a partial consequence of changes in employment law.

                      Since when does New Zealand exist for the convenience of employers?

                      You want a suggestion: legalise sympathetic strike action.

                    • Most employers and employees seem to be able to able operate in a climate of mutual benefit.

                      A minority of employers are unreasonable, a few deliberately exploitive.
                      And a minority of employees are disruptive and unloyal.

                      And occasionally a union oversteps in our modern world. And the workers suffer for their bosses ambitions and egos.

                    • Blue

                      So, Josie and RL, how do you protect someone whose job has been casualised and contracted out?

                    • RedLogix

                      Oh FFS read what I have written before knee-jerking.

                      You seem to have completely and utterly missed the point I am making…. and round here that’s saying something.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    I’d hope the first thing the next (Shearer led) Government does is allow all workers to unionise, not just those on wages or salaries. The right are focussed on legal backing for their concept of all workers being independent contractors invested in their own future and only able to exercise their legal rights as if they were contract disputes, not employment matters.
                    The last time this happened prior to the Hobbit de-unionising Act was the Employment Contracts Act, which had at its heart, the reduction of all employment relationships to something akin to a small claims court case.
                    The fact is that a broad and growing section of workers have no rights in law and no ability to unionise. That arrangement suits some (LP might be a good example!) but for low skilled workers, it is a race to the bottom.

                • Bill

                  I’m not back-peddling on my original comments, as some have suggested.

                  The issue from the beginning has been workers who are already on casual contracts, sub-contracting, or on short term fixed term contracts, and the many more who are going to be in the future.

                  No. What you originally claimed was that casual employment isn’t so bad and that since nurses and airline pilots ‘enjoy’ such work conditions, there is no reason why wharfies (and others) shouldn’t ‘enjoy’ them too.

                  As for me saying

                  that mustn’t happen, and we must not let it.

                  Would you care to point out where I said that? Here’s the thing Josie. Even if the big guy with the stick is going to crack your head and the law endorses him cracking your head, you don’t just stand there and accept it. You inflict the maximum possible damage on him and essentially attempt to ‘up the stakes’ to the point where he’s reluctant to wield his stick (basic working class mentality).

                  Meanwhile, point me to one ‘good’ case of casualisation from an employee’s perspective Josie. Just one. I can rhyme off example after example of good cases of flexibility and case after case where flexibility was denied by employers. But I can’t think of a single instance of good casualisation from the perspective of an employee.

                  And don’t rehash any of this nonsense about flexibility and casualisation being the same thing in an attempt to dodge the point. The difference has been spelled out for you and it ain’t that difficult to grasp or illustrate with actual examples.

                  Moving on, you ask

                  How do we safeguard their rights to annual leave, sick pay, decent hours and decent wages, if they can’t negotiate significant wage increases to cover the loss of those rights?

                  Is that serious? You merely want contracted workers to negotiate to be paid a sum of money in the belief that will compensate them for the loss of sick leave, annual leave, decent hours and (laughably) decent wages?

                  As for your repeated claim that

                  It’s not good enough to walk away from these people because their jobs don’t fit the picture

                  Who’s walking away? And why is is not okay to walk away after the fact but just fine to walk away as the shit descends?

                  Finally, this is not a debate between realism and idealism where (presumably) you are taking the position of the realist and I, the position of the idealist. It’s all realism. And your failure to understand the situation of working people being faced with casualisation/ contracting….cause that’s just a form of flexibility afterall, innit?

                  • RedLogix

                    Fine…. no problem with ‘basic working class’ mentality. But there are huge numbers of people in the workforce who no longer think of themselves as ‘working class’.

                    And then you wonder why they don’t join unions?

                    • Bill

                      No Red, I don’t wonder why so many people don’t join unions. I’ve been involved in enough specific recruitment drives and unionising of workplaces in general to know that there are a number of recurring themes.

                      But that aside because it is an aside you introduced, if you are going to nobly step up to bat for Josie, (though I’d rather she spoke for herself ) then you could at least address the the points made in my response to her.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Ahhh yes the privileged middle classes. Whom everyone likes to think of themselves as part of. Or at least aspire to. A lovely marketing tool the Right used to convince most that working class struggles were now beneath them. After all, even if you weren’t middle class, with a bit of credit on line you could spend as if you were.

                      Problem is that following global trends, the western middle classes will be in intensive care inside of 10 years. It already the case in the US, UK, Greece and Spain, and there are tinges of it here in NZ.

                      Typical story are friends of mine who never could be bothered to check their bank balances because there was always plenty in their accounts. Due to changes in working circumstances, a couple of small investment mishaps and the rising cost of living, they are now looking at their accounts every other day. Its been fascinating to watch the uncomfortable shift.

                  • RedLogix

                    Well I too want to hear from Josie, so I trust I’m not pre-empting a response on her part.

                    I especially want to hear any new ideas along the lines of how unions can become more relevant to the needs of the increasingly salaried/contractor based workplace where the old format of hourly rates and inflexible fixed conditions are increasingly irrelevant.

                    Now before you bang off again… I deplore ‘casualisation’ as much as you do. That we all want to fight.

                    But right now unions represent less than 18% of all NZ workers, and around 8% if you exclude the big public sector unions. That’s appalling low and I want to see it much higher. You probably know the reasons on the ground better than I do.

                    But one of the big reasons simply has to be the lack of relevancy to an increasingly diverse workforce.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      And two others have to be the relentless lies about how Unions are damaging the country, and the National Party taking overseas bribes.

                    • RedLogix

                      Agreed… but that lack of relevancy I’m pointing to has to make it very easy for the Tories to ‘divide and conqueor’, polarising working people who are not members of a union and are in many cases now quite hostile to them because of those lies.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      Perhaps, but the reason for that has more to do with what the Labour party is saying than the Tories. Tories have always told these lies, but it used to be that the Labour Party had the authority to refute them.

                      They are still lies, the Labour Party has the ability (if not the authority) to refute them. It’s not rocket science.

                    • Bill

                      Okay. I’ll go with this.

                      Some common reasons why people are reluctant to join unions.

                      1. “What’s a union?” (You any idea how many times I’ve been confronted with that one?)
                      2. “Unions are just in it to line their own pockets.”
                      3. “My boss is a nice guy.” (While working on min wage)
                      4. “If everyone got a pay rise it would lead to inflation.”
                      5. “Unions don’t do anything.”
                      6. “I don’t want to get into trouble.”
                      7. “I get the same as the guys in the union anyway.”
                      8. “I was in the union once and they didn’t help when…”(insert either a] petty nonsense or b] urban myth)
                      9. “I fucking hate unions, they’re bastards.”
                      10. “You never see the union, they just take your money and that’s it.”

                      And so it goes on.

                      Casualisation isn’t a problem where the worker remains an employee. The problem is contracting because the ERA doesn’t cover contractors.

                      One (part) solution is for unions to orgainise geographically rather than by industry and for all union memberships to be tied to the worker rather than the workplace. Meaning that if you change jobs, your membership goes with you regardless of the nature of your work.

                      Another would be to run negotiations with all available workers present rather than just delegates and organisers. That way workers would tend to feel and be an intergral part of the union rather than viewing the union as an agent.

                      Yet another would be to allow for cross representation eg if two unions are on site members of either union could choose to be represented by either union’s delegates. That way, dead wood gets cut out and disappears.

                      Get lawyers out of the DoL mediation process. (All they do is bog matters down and clip the ticket. Bar them.) And again, encourage all available workers to attend any particular mediation that is relevent to them.

                      As for contractors becoming covered by the ERA, it might be possible to reword the legislation to allow a sub contractor to be viewed as an employee and the main contractor the employer. Where there is no main contractor it becomes more problematic. Maybe if work is performed at a specific site (like the wharfs) then the owners of the site could be deemed the employer. Or perhaps the entity that contracts for work to be done on its behalf should be viewed as the employer, regardless.

                      Did I mention outlawing employment agancies?

                      And finally, the unions need a vision. (I assume ‘everyone’ is done with all that Lninist, Trtskyist crap?) To my mind there is no reason (in many cases) why unions shouldn’t offer employers the option of playing ball or facing the prospect of educational leave under the ERA being utilised alongside other initiatives to instil a sense of self-belief in workers and feeding them the required blueprint for assuming full democratic control of the workplace…that the bosses would be welcome to become a part of too, but (obviously) not in any boss role.

                      So, all that will fit in nicely with Josie’s formally false dichotomy of theory versus reality. But then, reality is shaped by ideas being put into practice.

                • DH

                  I’m a little out of date on my labour relations these days & could be wrong on this but to my knowledge contractors are still treated as self-employed and not covered by our employment law. An employee is defined as being on a contract of service. A contractor is engaged in a contract for service(s). AFAIK contractors are not employees. (they never used to be anyway)

                  I thought that was why businesses were so keen on contracting; they have no legal responsibility toward contractors except to honour the terms of the contract. That puts contractors outside the scope of unions.

                  • Bill

                    Yup. That’s the way it is.

                    • Kotahi Tane Huna

                      Thank you for your considered and lengthy response to my remarks, Bill – I’m commenting in this thread as the last one is closed (and I’m feeling lazy).

                      In my opinion the Labour Party’s voice firmly and consistently behind this message (that unions are a Good Thing) would go a long way towards addressing the apathy you describe.

                      Perhaps we need a self-employed sole contractor’s union. ASEP – the Association of Self Employed People.

                    • RedLogix


                      Same again. That was a great response above. The other issue is the increasing penetration of salaries into jobs that were formerly hourly paid.

                      It has two effects; the obvious one is that it’s much harder for a union to negotiate salary packages that are specific to each individual; and the other more subtle in that once on a salary workers are encouraged to see themselves as ‘management’ and thus on the other side of the fence from the ‘workers’.

                      It’s a wholly false distinction of course; but the two effects combined mean that there goes another job lost to the union movement.

    • First calling me an idiot when what you mean is you disagree with me

      That’s a common sort of response here, actually it’s a relatively mild no-argument attack. Some of the regulars have adopted the GWBush approach – if they think you don’t agree completely you are the enemy.

      • Kotahi Tane Huna 8.3.1

        …and should be shot. While being guillotined, and blown up, with a garrotte, in an arena. Which is why democracy is preferable to urgency 😉

    • just saying 8.4

      I think you have the wrong thread Josie.


      “People who’s jobs are already contracted out or casual need some advocacy too…..
      ….we should represent people whose jobs have been changed….

      I don’t think you even know the first thing about advocating for the disadvanataged. It’s “advocacy” like yours that has stripped the most disadvantaged of their working conditions, pay and penalty rates, and their dignity. Fact is, it’s not even about supporting them, you want them to support you, and I really don’t think you even know what the difference is.

      Matt McCarten has written an excellent blog in today’s herald about white middle-class professionals from the Labour party glad-handing and claiming to represent poor Pacifica people in South Auckland, and landing themselves very cushy jobs, as a result of that community’s generous support. Pity that support hasn’t been reciprocal.

  9. Waste of a good Lamington.

  10. Reality check 10

    I was down at the rally for the wharfies and as we were waiting to move off saw one of the wharfs go and congratulate one of the lamington throwers!

    • Te Reo Putake 10.1

      Really? I’d suggest that you are definitely in need of a reality check if you think a wharf did that! But, I have no doubt that some wharfies probably got a laugh out of Lamington Len being called on his bullshit, but the bigger picture is that MUNZ need to keep the moral high ground and immature grandstanding on political grounds unrelated to the dispute doesn’t help.

  11. Blue 11

    Throwing a lamington at a sell-out won’t offend anyone but the most precious amongst us. From the mud chucked at Don Brash at Waitangi to the shoe thrown at George W Bush, this is the highest expression of contempt people can muster, a final message for politicians who have ignored all of the polite, reasonable arguments presented to them.

  12. lefty 12

    If the Labour Party didn’t keep betraying workers their leaders wouldn’t get lamingtons thrown at them.

    And Jose could join a union and become part of the struggle, along with other unionised casual workers, to get better conditions.

    Of course this does not suit the neo liberal agenda of the labour right.

    And I suspect Jose would not be too keen on getting her hands dirty by becoming embroiled in the day to day nastiness of the class war.

  13. MrV 13

    Gee not even throwing rotten food, things can’t be too bad if lamingtons are being thrown. What next caviar?

    In all seriousness, the MU got into trouble in the first place by making this a PR campaign when it should have been about substance. The specific grievances have not been articulated, and most on the outside look at the salaries and wonder what they are complaining about.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      most on the outside look at the salaries and wonder what they are complaining about.

      Then why don’t you listen to Helen Kelly for 3 minutes.

      As for high salaries: Overpaid over valued CEO Tony Gibson should lose a large chunk of his $750K income ASAP.

      • MrV 13.1.1

        Whilst I agree the CEOs should be on more relevant performance related remuneration, Helen Kelly isn’t saying anything other than standard boilerplate fears.

        There is nothing stopping a bunch of the workers forming their own group to tender for the stevedoring work (or a portion of it), and negotiate direct with the port, without the union heavies who have proven so inept when it comes to handling this situation.

  14. Vicky32 14

    “What’s a union?” (You any idea how many times I’ve been confronted with that one?)

    Bill, I wish I thought you were kidding re this! (I fear you are not.) Unbelievable!

  15. Tony 15

    Watching the young labour members react to the lamington throwing was very telling. One of them was sitting talking to Brown at the time, he was pissed off because he got a bit of lamington on his pants and his conversation was interrupted. It seemed he actually thought he had a chance of changing Brown’s mind.

    Another few, one of whom apparently used to work in Brown’s office, was screaming at people who hadn’t even touched the lamingtons about how childish they were, and how other people still wanted to speak to Brown but now it was ruined for everyone.

    A number of them were later talking very happily about how not just the lamington throwers, but also others who had just been on lookers, would be trespassed.

    The fact that AUSA so quickly sent out a press release denouncing the lamington throwers really makes on depressed about the state of young labour.

  16. hateatea 16

    ‘The fact that AUSA so quickly sent out a press release denouncing the lamington throwers really makes on depressed about the state of young labour.’

    The first thing is, bad manners are bad manners and no organiser would want to be associated with what is, to all intents and purposes, an assault.

    The second thing is, it distracts from the real message.  

    • Tony 16.1

      bit overdramatic to call it an assault. funnily enough a week before the same young labour/AUSA people organised for an ice statue of stephen joyce to be smashed with a pick axe. a far more violent image one would have thought.

  17. BLiP 17

    I’ve had enough of attempting to engage our politicians in civil discourse. They don’t listen and they don’t care. The lamington said in no words exactly what I wanted Len to hear. Good job.

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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