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Nats planning to drive down our wages further

Written By: - Date published: 9:25 am, June 9th, 2011 - 32 comments
Categories: Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

National’s election plan is becoming clear. They are going to put a lot of nasty stuff on the table and trust that people love Key’s smiling face so much they will still vote National. If they win, they will take it as a mandate to do everything they’ve said, and more. The latest election policy is more attacks on our work rights.

Key won’t be drawn on details but it seems likely that removing workers’ right to the minimum wage, at least for youth workers, will be part of it, as will allowing employers to refuse to engage in collective bargaining with unionised workers.

One of the joys of blogging is when I/S at No Right Turn has already written what you want to write, and done the tedious job of finding all the links:

National is planning a further attack on workers rights if they are re-elected, according to Radio New Zealand:

Mr Key has told the Seafood Industry Council conference in Wellington a more flexible labour market is better for both employers and workers.He was reluctant to spell out what other changes National might make to employment law, refusing to say whether they include further restrictions on collective bargaining.

But he says that while the changes will be good for both employers and workers, trade unions won’t be happy.

Cutting through the spin and bullshit, this means tilting the field even further in favour of employers. And the result will be lower wages and poorer working conditions for Kiwi workers. National thinks this is an “advantage”, but its not. Instead, it is the reason why our living standards are lower than those of Australia, why our businesses are less productive, why our managers are crap – because they’re insulated from their own stupidity by a favourable regulatory regime.

National, in typical fashion, is refusing to say exactly what changes it will make. This is downright deceitful. We have a right to know, so we can judge them at the election on those policies. But no doubt that’s exactly what National is trying to avoid.

John Key, to the Kerikeri District Business Asociation, December 2008:

Another point raised by Ms Brookes-Quan concerned the exodus to Australia by New Zealanders, lured by attractive wage compensation, and the recent call for employers to pay more.Mr Key would like to see the opposite occur.

“We would love to see wages drop,” he says.

When Key couldn’t spin and obfuscate his way out of this admission, he pulled the strings of his tame Herald editor to have a “correction” printed (for another paper, for giving an incorrect “impression”). But in light of National’s policies in office (which have seen mass unemployment and sub-inflation wage rises), and today’s announcement of a further attack on worker’s rights which will further reduce the wages and living standards of ordinary Kiwis, maybe we should be taking Key at his word.

As I’ve pointed out before, extracting higher profits through lower wages is a core policy of the National Party. When they talk about “raising living standards”, they’re not talking about raising them for us, but for the top 0.1%. Its about transferring wealth upwards, by making ordinary kiwis actively worse off. And I can think of no better definition of “evil” than that.

So, it’s the same old agenda – rip off working people and further enrich.

The politics of how it will be done is interesting, too. The game plan for this was set by Reagan’s fight with the air traffic controllers and Thatcher’s stoush with the miners in the 80s (hell, the same pattern was at play in the 1951 waterfront lock-out):

  • Pass some strongly anti-worker, anti-union laws, then target a strong and militant union.
  • Spin the resulting strike action as an example of the excesses and abuses of the union movement.
  • Win the fight no matter what the cost to the economy (remember, this isn’t about ‘growing the economy’, it’s about permanently changing who gets the lion’s share of the economy’s wealth).
  • Break the union.
  • It works as both PR justification for the law changes and forces every other union to toe the line.

The public sector unions, probably the teacher or medical unions, or maybe the PSA, will be National’s target.

No doubt this will give the unions another reason to fight hard at this election. It gives each of us more reason to vote Left and get everyone we know to do the same.

32 comments on “Nats planning to drive down our wages further”

  1. vto 1

    Stand and fight!


    This election is definitely going be one of my swing vote moments. Let’s hope I am not alone.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      A lot of voters are starting to cotton on. Every man woman and child to the barricades, we’re going to take this corporate profit at the expense of NZ Government all the way down.

  2. ianmac 2

    Yes. The MANDATE is the issue for the Election.
    All those wedges will become an avalanche.
    The difficulty is to convince the electorate that the threats will damage NZ life for everyone – except the well off.

  3. jackal 3

    My grandfather was part of that 1951 waterfront lock-out. The blacklist the Government created for those striking had far reaching consequences for years to come. I wouldn’t put similar tactics past this National Government. They obviously have a lack of decency about them.

  4. marsman 4

    For a lying, thieving, corrupt Gummint vote National.

  5. Can only repeat what I said yesterday.

    Actually, one more thing – this drip-feeding strategy has to be countered. Perhaps a publicly viewable list that can be added to progressively – with the last line being ‘and’ followed by a series of question marks. All of these sought ‘mandates’ need to be consolidated so that people get the picture and don’t forget that we’re talking hailstorm, not refreshing summer shower.

    • ianmac 5.1

      Exactly what I thought Puddlegum. Unless we see the thousand little cuts in their total like rust it will creep up and form the MANDATE.

  6. Peter 6

    They’ve already got 58000 unemployed and 160000 job seekers ready and waiting to work so why put the knife in any further?

    • Verity 6.1

      160000 so called job seekers willing and ready work?And what qualifications would many of these have. They may be ready and willing to work but the days of getting a job on a building site, the wharves where nepotism ruled or down on the farm because you left school as soon as you could are long gone.

      Even a halfway decent education is not good enough – too many good people around for too few jobs – how do we deal with that? In a world recession how do we cope with an expanding population especially for those who have not much to offer. And we bring in seasonal workers from abroad?

      Expanding the public services, WFF, interest free student loans for diplomas in “clown degrees” etc. just to bring the numbers on the dole down so statistics looked good was always going to lead to trouble – anyone with a brain was always going to sell their services to the highest bidder and that was never going to be NZ. Pity that the ones to really gain from vote getters like this had the intelligence to realise that NZ was going nowhere with policies like this, took their degrees and expertise elsewhere. Any fool could see what was going to happen and it has.

      We don’t need Polytech diplomas in beauty therapy” aromatherapy, and artistic diplomas in painting yet another Phoenix palm – we should have given the children realistic ideas instead of spending taxpayers money on fantasia where every other youth thinks they are going to be the next Michael Jackson, rapper star or break dancing king did not serve them well. The youth were cocooned and conned about the real world out there.

      Sending cussies to the States (via various other cussies countries to visit rellies) to find the origins of NZ hip-hop and other assorted irresponsible ridiculous ideas like this just to retain power got up an awful lot of the the ordinary taxpayers noses. We worked hard for the money that Labour so casually flung around all and sundry who jumped on the band wagon but never had anything real to contribute.

      Would these who lived in the ether in the era of Labour now be amongst the 58000 unemployed or 160000 ready and willing job seekers? You betcha!

      P.S I have a Diploma in Hamburgertherapy – I was assured it was an absolute essential to get a job at a burger bar but it seems noone wants to know so I will just get myself some more burger therapy from one of the take away burger places that so many of we unemployed inhabit. We counsel each other about how awful we feel about not being able to pay back our student loans on all these therapy diplomas and can only afford burgers and fizz which makes us fat, dial up computers, basic Sky and cheap cell phones -how do you expect us to live on the dole and stay slim? Can hardly afford a taxi to get the fags these days.

      You owe me a job – Labour told me so.

      Twilight golf anyone?

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Your attitude is exactly why a quarter of our graduates leave this country to work in countries for people who will actually appreciate them and pay them what they are worth.

        You devalue education and trades.

        Devalue labour.

        Devalue arts and culture.

        Devalue the livability of our society.

        Devalue the caring professions and the importance of looking after each another from cradle to grave.

        Devalue anything that won’t make the capitalists the returns on their investments that they want.

        All the shit which has made 700,000 NZ born Kiwis decide to make Australia their home.

        You’re a fuckhead.

        • Verity

          You cannot devalue that which has no value. Where on earth did I devalue education and trades – those are two of the most important elements in society. And I certainly did not devalue the caring professions – your response is so typical of those who cannot see outside the square, especially your sign off – those who cannot think just swear.

          I am totally in support a welfare state for those who cannot earn a living for one reason or another, but I, probably like you, know too many physically capable people lying to obtain benefits, lying in bed rather than making an effort to better themselves and knowing that the state will support them from cradle to grave.

          I watched the same thing happen in Britain where generations have never actually worked.
          I see the same attitude here by those who do not value education and parents who couldn’t care less and make no effort to instill respect or ambition in their children or the knowledge that in order to have a lovely welfare state, everyone who can, must contribute. But then, for many parents, that would be hypocritical. You do not have to be wealthy to have ethics. But Labour addressed this problem with even more handouts – NZ cannot sustain itself in this manner, our demographics and geographal isolation should have made a much more radical shift in Labour’s policies.

          Ballance, Seddon, Savage and Kirk – brilliant men in their time. But this is 2011 and the world is a very different place. You can’t keep living in the past – the times of aristocrats and serfs says much about your way of thinking. Those times are well past – we have no workhouses or penniless beggars! And I think the four men you mentioned would turn in their graves if they saw how their ideals were so badly abused in the present day. I don’t think that what happened over the last few years is quite what they intended. We are now broke – where would you find the wherewithal to support the Kiwis who think they all have a right to own a SUV’s, pile up their trolleys in the supermarket with disposable nappies and beer and don’ tell me it doesn’t happen. Some of us have our priorities completely skewed.

          As for your aristocrats – do you include the wealthy rugby player is this category? The ones who go abroad to earn millions. Or the Helen Clarks of this world who aquired another six houses during her reign? Human beings will always be human and we in the democratic countries are a darn sight more humane than some. Think of all those millions of poor muslim illiterates in Egypt etc. who do not know where the next meal is coming from. Noone in NZ has to be illiterate and at least we have WINZ and food banks in the worst of times.

          And the oustanding idealists of our time, Stalin, Mao, Castro Blair etc. – how did their people benefit from their left wing ideals? Your speil was just “same old, same old” – it didn’t work last time, it just made NZ broke which is why you are not in power now. And unless some Labour policies are rethought it is not going to work in the future.

          But you are in a catch 22 situation – in order to find votes you have to offer the same policies(freebies, open all hours drinking time for the young, interset free loans and benefits to those earning six figure salaries) – the very things that broke us last time.

          Some ideals, wonderful as they may be, are just not financially sustainable in this modern age.

          • Colonial Viper

            Some ideals, wonderful as they may be, are just not financially sustainable in this modern age.


            The top 100 on the NZ Rich List control $40B between them, and the Reserve Bank notes that $230B exists in the money supply. So there is plenty of money, and you are lying.

            The Right attempts to destroy idealism at every turn. You have to because a capitalist world where capital not labour is important is what you have to create.

            And we are going to stop you, because labour outnumbers capitalists twenty to one.

            Ballance, Seddon, Savage and Kirk – brilliant men in their time. But this is 2011 and the world is a very different place. You can’t keep living in the past – the times of aristocrats and serfs says much about your way of thinking.

            NZ wage serfs are not going to stand by while Government Ministers luxuriate in new BMWs and the wealth are given more of the country’s riches on a silver platter.

            This is class war, you peasant blaming asshole.

          • RedLogix

            I can see where you are coming from verity.

            If you have a decent job in this country it’s still possible to pretend things are all ok. And hope that they will stay that way. And heck you are right; look about the world and most of it by comparison to our quiet little home is not pretty. Downright ugly in fact.

            But NZ is not special. We don’t have some special immunity to fracking up. Mostly NZ has gotten away with a lot of dumb decisions because we have a low population density and until recently most folk’s lives had a fair bit of resiliency left. We could get away with shit and still stage a recovery.

            But here are some of the numbers that are slowly killing us as a nation:

            7-9% of our GDP is being siphoned off every year by overseas profit takers, rentiers of our national assets and wealth.

            Despite the fact that New Zealanders work more and longer than any other OECD nation our wages & salary share of GDP is 42% and falling. The lowest in the OECD; other people gain the majority of the benefit from our collective efforts.

            25% youth unemployment. Killing our future.

            Us ordinary kwis are already serfs and servants in our own nation… most of us just haven’t quite clued into it yet.

          • Draco T Bastard

            it just made NZ broke

            NZ isn’t broke – that’s just a lie that the bankers want you to believe. We have all the resources we need but we have, at the bankers bidding, a massive misallocation of resources.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              “I am totally in support a welfare state for those who cannot earn a living for one reason or another, but I, probably like you, know too many physically capable people lying to obtain benefits, lying in bed rather than making an effort to better themselves and knowing that the state will support them from cradle to grave.”

              No you’re not you don’t support it at all but just like to pretend you do. It’s like saying I’m not a racist but…/../

              From the MSD website here’s the figures for 2007.

              18-19 years 2,893
              20-24 years 4,123
              25-29 years 2,873
              30-34 years 2,425
              35-39 years 2,249
              40-44 years 2,097
              45-49 years 2,111
              50-54 years 1,665
              55-59 years 1,375
              60-64 years 2,474
              Total working age clients 24,285

              Only 24,000 people on unemployment benefit. Many of those in rural areas with little work and not a static group but one where people move in and out of the welfare system.

              Niow lets look at duration for 2007 as well.

              Under 6 months 14,032
              6 months-2 years 6,403
              2-4 years 2,076
              Over 4 years 1,774
              Total 24,285

              Only 1,774 over 4 years and some of those will have been in and out of work and some of these will be working part-time, again some will be in rural areas with low employment and quite a few will be in that 60-64 year old group as well waiting to go on NZS (oooops they are baby boomers with their so called wonderful work ethic the older generation like to criticise young people for not having).

              When work is there people work. You act as if there is a massive problem with people unwilling to work – there’s not. If the jobs are there they will work.

              And just to reinforce the point:

              I was looking for a recent article in the Hawkes Bay paper that said that unemployment had risen everywhere in Hawkes Bay but Flaxmere (you know the much maligned, low socio econnomic, low decile gang ridden Flaxmere) and came across this one in 1997:


              zero on unemployment benefit.

              I can’t find the more recent article but this again indicates when the work is there people from all communities will go and do it.

              If you supported the welfare system you would look at the facts – not the rhetoric.

              Besides if you think that if people who can support themselves shouldn’t get any assistance at least be consistent and push for the removal of NZS from those who have income, assets and trusts. This will return far more to the taxpayer than stopping a few unemployment benefits ever will.

  7. Postie 7

    How you like that mums n dads Nat voter’s ? Time for a what ??? At the end of the day we are all workers and if are kids are not workers yet they soon or one day will be, What a backward path NZ is on ! Welcome to the new class system you are number zero in the line!!

  8. JS 8

    What do voters like about National apart from John Key? Anything?

    • Well JS I wish I knew. All my life I have seen Conservative Right -Wing parties just bash working people .Yet they still vote for more and more.

      Tories do of course have money to spend on clever covert advertising .
      Union bashing has had it effect , just think of the working people who voted to “stop union power ruining the country ” . Some will remember the Cossack advertisments that scared ignorant workers to death. Muldoon knew just what would happen when he invited the racist springbok tour but it won him the election. It would be most interesting to know how many Solo mums and unemployed voted for the Key smile Lefties would be shocked if the knew. They now have Crosby-Textor and they are masters at winning elections by stealth and underhanded ways . Be aware my friends those Nat bastards will do anything and I mean anything to win.

      • Verity 8.1.1

        Including speeding across the Tasman (on whose money?) to try to discredit other party leaders while everybody on the right kept mum about the Labour leader for years. Maybe that is the difference between gentleman and muckrakers!

        • Anne

          And what murky, mucky bit of fallacious crap are you trying to insinuate Verity?

        • RedLogix

          Oh he’s still smarting over William’s somewhat misguided attempt to link Key into the H-Fee affair just prior to the 2008 election.

          At the time there was a lot of material posted here at The Standard speculating around this matter. I personally have seen evidence that clearly suggests Key has definitely lied about something he did in the 1980’s. His official CV contains details that are contradicted by other information. But why the lie and why the cover up is not clear.

          One of the best ways to keep a secret is to spread around a number of misdirections, and Williams may have been following one of them. While he didn’t turn up a smoking gun, it did show how close Key was to the H-Fee affair and how remarkably fortunate he was to have slipped past it with his hands apparently clean. But even then I’m of the opinion that H-Fee was not the main show… there was something else.

          Nah… there is stuff in Key’s background that is interesting to say the least. One day something will come to light.

  9. Zaphod Beeblebrox 9

    So how is this even a remotely sensible idea when we have a single Trans-tasman labor market? Those that can leave for better working lives will leave, those who can’t will be stuck.

    In Australia they have an upper house (Senate) to stop the worst excesses of idiots, here we only have ourselves to try and stop stupidity.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      In Australia they have an upper house (Senate) to stop the worst excesses of idiots,

      Bollocks, upper house does nothing of the sort. If the same party controls both houses then the stupidity still passes and if one party controls one house and another party controls the other then no legislation gets passed.

      • William Watson 9.1.1

        (+5 / insightful)

        Don’t always (often?) agree with DTB. But this comment is spot on. The house of lords system in the UK is theoretically better, but doesn’t actually seem to be a practical improvement.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 9.1.2

        The Senate saved Australians from a lot of bad shit under Howard. Unfortunately there’s no upper house to save us from the current idiots.

        • Draco T Bastard

          We have select committees to do that and they’re actually better at it. The big problem is that the select committees can be bypassed with urgency – especially when the government doesn’t want a select committee to look over the legislation.

        • Verity

          Those would be the idiots who were mostly successful in the private sector before they were elected to Parliament? And many of them were not born with silver spoons in their mouths, they earned a living and gained experience in this competitive world we now inhabit.

          And your real life field of expertise and long experience in which you are/were employed is ………? I am sure you have much to offer but it is better to walk the walk than talk the talk. Ideals are wonderful but it is realism that gets things done.

          • Colonial Viper

            Ideals are wonderful but it is realism that gets things done.


            Its time this country regained it’s ideals. And again strive for the vision that Ballance, Seddon, Savage, Kirk and others saw for our beautiful country and its peoples.

            Because the “realism” we are being offered by Key and his corporatist masters involves selling our country’s most valuable assets off to foreigners, turning our people into lowly paid wage serfs, and kowtowing to an aristocratic elite who don’t care about the underclasses beneath their boot.

            Fuck you.

          • Zaphod Beeblebrox

            Running a business and providing for the welfare of your citizens are not the same thing.

            NZ does not want to end up with the same fate as Merrill Lynch. If that is a success I would hate to see a failure.

  10. Akldnut 10

    Sounds like Joh Bjelke Petersen may have been a poster boy for this pack of thieves as well.

    I was in Brisbane when he carried out the harrasing of unions and their members during the 80’s during the power strikes/demonstrations.

  11. tc 11

    True DTB however the greens and democrats have pretty much held the balance of power in the senate for decades…..the democrats were formed by Don Chipp to ‘keep the bastards honest’ and the oz electorate, being a lot more savvy than ours keeps it that way.

  12. Gazza 12

    There is nothing much more to say except it looks like the only way National will be gone is when he has the smile wiped off his arrogant self-serving face.

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  • $2.7m for Hokianga infrastructure
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  • New fund to support housing and construction sector
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  • Government investment to boost Auckland’s community recycling network
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  • Te Papa transformation starts at Cameron Road
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