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On the record

Written By: - Date published: 3:37 pm, February 21st, 2008 - 43 comments
Categories: john key, workers' rights - Tags: ,

There are some out there claiming Key’s statement that he “would love to see wages drop” is out of character.

Now I’m always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt and we know actions speak louder than words so I thought I’d have a look at Key’s actions. And what actions would speak louder than an MP’s voting record? After all, legislation is what they’re there to do.

So let’s have a look:

Abolishing youth rates: voted no

Paid parental leave: voted no

Four weeks annual leave: voted no

A minimum of time and a half for working public holidays: voted no

Protections for vulnerable workers: voted no

Flexible working hours: voted no

Working for Families: voted no

KiwiSaver: voted no

While that doesn’t look too good it’s possible that National could have been simply cynically voting against the government rather than directly voting against better lives for New Zealand workers. Well, maybe.

It turns out the National Party has been pro-active in the arena of work rights in the last couple of years – they’ve been pro-actively trying to reduce them. In 2006 the party drove up a member’s bill that would have seen anybody who started a new job have no work rights at all for the first 90 days of that job – that’s over 100,000 people in any given year who could face getting the sack for no reason and with no come-back. And as we saw from the last time the Nats were in power, when you strip away work rights wages drop.

So Key says wages need to drop. He and his party vote against every piece of legislation that might raise them and try to put legislation in place that would lead to wages dropping (it’s well worth noting that their 90 day no-rights bill is still core policy). Misquoted? I think not.

I must say it is good to see John say something he actually believes and that his party is working so hard to bring into action. And, as Cullen pointed out yesterday in the house, has worked so hard to achieve in the past.

43 comments on “On the record ”

  1. dave 1


  2. Conor Roberts 2

    90-days with no rights at work: voted yes

  3. Conor Roberts 3

    Haven’t heard much about that from them about all that recently. Perhaps Mr Key could tell us what his workplace policies will actually be…

  4. Steve Pierson 4

    Conor. 90 Days without Work Rights is still one of their policies. If they were government they would enact it. That’s what I’ve heard from Nat MPs

  5. Steve Pierson 5

    Irish. Key’s “we would love to see wages drop” was out of character becuase he said it when a journalist was around. He usually keeps that message for private audiences and spiels empty rhetoric about wage rises to the rest of us.

  6. Phil 6

    Oh, very well done IB… you’re painting out Key to be a slave-driving baby-eating talks-directly-to-god neo-con, simply because he’s doing what democratic oppositions world over are specifically designed to do; vote against stuff.

    You know how parliament works. I know how parliament works. Trying to twist shit like this makes you nothing more than a mirror image of DPF or, dare I say it, Whale.

    IrishBill says: yes Phil, that’s why a substantial chunk of legislation goes through with full consensus. I’m not sure what you mean about me being like Whale. I’ve read and re-read my post and at no point can I see a pornographic image or the use of the phrase “Nationaliar” perhaps you have posted this comment on the wrong website?

  7. Wow, you guys really do have a bee in your bonnet today don’t you?

    I hope that your logical processors survive the torturing they are getting.

    Let me see, so far we have had Tane, Steve, Base, and Bill all posting on basically the same Party beat up. And here I though that the point to a group blog was that you are all to busy to post regularly?

    What’s happened to Z K Muggletonspofin? Is he slacking?

    Bill, I’m a bit confused why you think all that legislation “raised wage”. Some obviously do, but

    Paid parental leave: ?

    Four weeks annual leave: ?

    Protections for vulnerable workers: ?

    Flexible working hours: ?

    Working for Families: ?

    KiwiSaver: ?

    Or are you just dredging up a laundry list of Teh Party’s policies that National disagreed with on principle?

  8. Steve Pierson 8

    TDS. You’ve written a list of laws that mostly increase workers income relative to the work they do, so it is an increase in income per hour worked, and, anyway, work rights obviously aren’t limited to wages.

    Also, why does National “disagree on principle” with “protections for vulnerable workers”?

  9. Steve Pierson 9

    Phil. Oppostions’ jobs are not to blindly vote against every piece of legislation that comes before the House. As you well know, about a third of Bills are not opposed by any party.

    So, there is still a valid question to be asked here:
    why does National oppose every single piece of legislation that strengthens wages and work rights?

  10. r0b 10

    Phil: he’s doing what democratic oppositions world over are specifically designed to do; vote against stuff.

    If that’s all that oppositions do then it’s a sad indictment of their understanding of democracy. We could just take their votes as given, send the lot of them home, and save the taxpayer their useless salaries.

    Oppositions have the option of engaging constructively. We see hints of it in conscience votes, and in the rare situations where agreement is reached (e.g. Key and Clark on S59). Minor opposition parties very clearly vote issue by issue. Hence I have to conclude that if oppositions vote against stuff, it is because they are against it.

    So, if the Nats vote against abolishing youth rates, paid parental leave and so on, it’s because they are against these things.

  11. dave 11

    whats wrong with seeing wages drop in Australia?

  12. Also, why does National “disagree on principle’ with “protections for vulnerable workers’?

    Interesting to see your framing of this legislation. I don’t find it surprising that the Nats would vote against legisation that strengthens unionism. Do you want National to have principles, or not?

    See the website linked to my name if you need a little help.

  13. Steve Pierson 13

    dave. what’s right with it?

  14. Yawn. TDS – tell us some of National’s policies to raise wages. GO on. I dare you.

  15. Tane 15

    TDS, as I understand it the legislation in question was about protecting the jobs of vulnerable workers when companies decide to change contractors. It was never about strengthening unionism.

  16. Tane

    Yep, there was something in there about company buyouts. There are also clauses that force employers into bargaining on collective contracts, and many other clauses regarding bargaining and bargaining fees. I don’t have time to wade through it all now. However it reads as the type of union-friendly employment law tweaks that I would expect Labour to promote and National to oppose. So what?

    My point is that Bill is arbitrarily labelling National as anti-worker, and providing his framing of the purpose of the legislation. Since these are Labour-introduced bills, the Nats don’t get to choose to support some parts and not others. If there is anything that they disagree with then I suppose it is their obligation to vote against. Do National have principles, or not?

    Here’s a question Bill might like to answer – Since Labour and it’s poodles have a majority in Parliament on most measures, why does National vote against anything? It wouldn’t make any difference to the final outcome….

    IrishBill says: Actually TDS, these are not all Labour introduced bills. In fact most of the substance of them has come from the Alliance or the Greens. And National is anti-worker. I’d be interested to see the sophism you’d use to claim “we would love to see wages drop” is not anti-worker. In answer to your question: why do they vote for anything? They didn’t vote against the terrorism amendment act but they’ll vote against measures to stop kids being exploited at work? Anti-worker? Yep.

  17. Steve Pierson 17

    TDS. What parts of paid maternity leave did National support and which did it oppose?

    Which parts of four weeks annual elave did it support and which did it oppose?

    Which parts of time and a half on public holidays did it support and which did it oppose?

    They’re pretty simple laws. You’re for them or you’re against them. And National is agianst them because they “would love to see wages drop”

  18. r0b 18

    why does National vote against anything?

    They vote against things that they don’t believe in. Pretty simple really.

  19. r0b 19

    So TDS, why does it seem to bother you so much that National voted against paid maternity leave, four weeks annual leave, extra pay on public holidays and so on?

    Are you actually not comfortable supporting a party that is opposed to these things?

  20. Steve – I don’t have time to wade back through all the hansard records to provide detailed points, and I’m sure you won’t either.

    Here’s a simple question – why doesn’t Teh Party legislate for 6 weeks annual leave a year? I’m sure that would be a vote-winning election policy.

    Rob – eh? Did I say I was bothered by what National voted for or against?

    Was there anything during the last National govt that Teh Party voted against I wonder?


  21. I figured you couldn’t contribute, Frank.

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    TDS, that’s not a simple quetion – it’s a stupid question.

    The answer is more complex though, as I’m sure you’re aware. Policy (someone might want to mention this to Key, something about $200 million) isn’t usually made off the cuff. Terms such as ‘international best practice’ and ‘rational, ‘practical’ also come into play.

    Equally, one might ask why Labour doesn’t propose legislation to give 26 weeks’ leave and a four day working week. It’s got to be sustainable in a business sense, a well as good practice.

    What’s your point? Why do you think National doesn’t support four weeks’ annual leave – it doesn’t place unreasonable demands upon employers, and well-rested employees are going to be more productive.

  23. Dean 23

    “Abolishing youth rates: voted no”

    If youth want to be employed when they have less experience and skills than someone older with more of both then I don’t see the problem. If they do possess good levels in either or both categories then they are free to negotiate with the employer. What exactly is it about this that scares you?

    “Paid parental leave: voted no”

    Why is someone elses decision to have children an expense all tax payers must burden?

    “Four weeks annual leave: voted no”

    Because it was of course without expense to employers. You know, those people that pay the wages? I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

    “A minimum of time and a half for working public holidays: voted no”

    Noone’s forced to work public holidays, and if you choose to work in an industry where this is a part of your working conditions then once again, why is it the employer’s responsibility to pay for it? Noone’s forcing anyone to work these days.

    “Protections for vulnerable workers: voted no”

    Well, on the surface I’ll agree with you. But I’d like to see just exactly how you classify a worker vulnerable, please.

    “Flexible working hours: voted no”

    Everyone is free to negotiate this with their employer. Once again, why are you so scared of individual responsibility?

    “Working for Families: voted no”

    And fair enough, too. It’s incredibly stupid.

    “KiwiSaver: voted no”


  24. Dean 24

    “What’s your point? Why do you think National doesn’t support four weeks’ annual leave – it doesn’t place unreasonable demands upon employers, and well-rested employees are going to be more productive.”

    Please explain why an extra week of paid leave is not an unreasonable demand on an employer.

  25. r0b 25

    Rob – eh? Did I say I was bothered by what National voted for or against?

    Well TDS, you’re making an awful fuss trying to explain away National’s voting record. I took that to mean that it bothered you.

    Does if bother you, TDS, that National voted against and opposes paid maternity leave, four weeks annual leave, extra pay on public holidays and so on?

  26. Matthew – you failed to answer the question.

    How about I simplify it for you – what makes four weeks the ‘perfect’ amount of leave?

    Rob – all I am doing is point out that it is label a measure “Protections for vulnerable workers” when it is at least equally about promotion of unions and their bargaining fees.

    And pretty simple laws? The bill for that one is 83 pages long.


  27. Oh TDS – what a “gotcha”. No. Really. You’re doing very well – I’m sure you’ll meet your KPIs, Francis.

  28. r0b 28

    Does if bother you, TDS, that National voted against and opposes paid maternity leave, four weeks annual leave, extra pay on public holidays and so on?

  29. Matthew Pilott 29

    TDS, Dean – I don’t know, and I doubt there is a ‘perfect’ rate for annual leave. You could try asking the Labour Party how they arrived at that figure. You could also have a look at international and domestic best practices for employment and leave, if you’re genuinely concerned.

    I’d imagine they’ve gone for reasonable levels – one that balances the needs of workers with that of employers. Logical enough, if you ask me.

    TDS, I think I answered your question well enough by implication – do you really need me to spell it out?

  30. Dean 30

    “Does if bother you, TDS, that National voted against and opposes paid maternity leave, four weeks annual leave, extra pay on public holidays and so on?”

    I know it’s derailing to a certain degree and I know I’m interjecting here, but that certainly doesn’t bother me.

    Why should it?

    (normally I hate seeing this, but i can’t resist: captcha, “orderly guerrilla”)

  31. Dean 31

    “I’d imagine they’ve gone for reasonable levels – one that balances the needs of workers with that of employers. Logical enough, if you ask me.”

    So you’re willing to let the government arrive at this conclusion with blind faith and without a thought of your own except relying on “logic”.

    How’s sitting in the lap and wagging your tail going for you? Here’s a hint – try finding something out about a subject from all sides and then – wait for it – forming an opinion.

  32. I agree with TDS we need 6 weeks annual leave – the Germans get eight. Are we worth less than German workers?

  33. Matthew Pilott 33

    Dean – instead of making smug and inane comments, why not think before typing. I thought you were better than that…

    Y’see, I don’t know whether four weeks’ annual leave is an optimum level. ’tis what I said. However, I have formed one of those opinion thingies, whereby having 8% annual leave a year is better that 6%. I think that having such a level of time off is productive – it enhances workers’ abilities which is of benefit to employers, and undoubtedly is of benefit for people to have paid time off to spend with their friends, families and themselves.

    Now while I’m not sure that it’s the best level, I thought that it was better than three weeks’. I was on four (and then some) for a couple of year before it changed, and my employer also managed just fine. Helped me form my opinion.

    If the government was to look at having six weeks, well believe it or not, maestro, I’d probably look into it and see if it would be sustainable for employers and good for the country, before either supporting, or not supporting, the move.

    Any other facile comments you’d like to share with us Dean?

  34. Dean 34

    “Y’see, I don’t know whether four weeks’ annual leave is an optimum level. ’tis what I said. However, I have formed one of those opinion thingies, whereby having 8% annual leave a year is better that 6%.”

    How about 100%? Would that be “optimum”? After all, it’s better than 8%. How about 50? 20? What is enough? How do you quantify it? Well, I guess we’d better look at what you said next.

    “Now while I’m not sure that it’s the best level, I thought that it was better than three weeks’. I was on four (and then some) for a couple of year before it changed, and my employer also managed just fine. Helped me form my opinion.”

    Yes, because legislating every employer provide such when some can afford to means every single employer will “manage just fine”.

    “If the government was to look at having six weeks, well believe it or not, maestro, I’d probably look into it and see if it would be sustainable for employers and good for the country, before either supporting, or not supporting, the move.”

    But all you’ve done is say that you got 4 weeks plus more at one employer, so therefore it’s worth looking into for the entire workforce, legislated by parliament.

    I’m sorry Matthew but if you’re going to continue to come up with such opinions based on personal experience and somehow rationalise that to include the entire workforce without taking into account the vastly different factors then it’s best that you don’t use the word “facile” because it unfortunately demonstrates your complete lack of understanding of the very meaning of the word.

    Here’s another one for you, I think it’s quite fitting: “Doubleplusgood”.

    Hope you have an enjoyable holiday, though.

  35. Dunno where you got that info from Robbo

    Here’s an NY Times graphic that is pretty neat.


    France also has a rule where a working week is defined at 35 hours, with legislated overtime being paid above that level.

    Now that would do wonders for wages. I await Teh Party’s policy announcements on heading in this direction.

    Oh, wait a sec, looks like it is already on the books


    Yippee. Maybe I will vote for Teh Party now. Working only 35 hours a week, 6 weeks annual leave, and tax cuts too!

    cap: Roberts being (what – being a pain in the butt?)

  36. Well, would you look at that – I’m wrong. I suggest you bookmark it for later TDS ‘cos it happens very, very infrequently. I s’pose I should restate by previous comment in light of this information:

    “I agree with TDS we need 6 weeks annual leave – the French get six. Are we worth less than French workers?” Is that better?

    Oh and Francis? You’ll never get a real holiday because the party owns you. Vote for who you want to. Now, to get back to the question you have never answered – what do you think should be done to raise wages? C’mon bro, you’ve got time to spend on research (or on ordering research from the unit) how about a little hypothetical policy?

  37. That should be “my” not “by” – y’d think I had a headcold or something…

    Captcha: “merchant. Recalling” – I think I can hear John calling your name Francis…

  38. r0b 38

    I asked TDS: “Does if bother you, TDS, that National voted against and opposes paid maternity leave, four weeks annual leave, extra pay on public holidays and so on?’

    Dean replied: I know it’s derailing to a certain degree and I know I’m interjecting here, but that certainly doesn’t bother me.

    I see you went through them item by item upthread, and indeed it doesn’t bother you Dean. Good for you.

    Seems to bother TDS though, from the way he’s thrashed about on this issue, and the way he’s avoided answering this direct question three times now. And I rather think that it would bother a lot of people who currently think that they are National supporters…

  39. Matthew Pilott 39

    Dean, stop being deliberately obtuse, I’m not sure why you’re trying so hard to display a lack of comprehension for my benefit but I assure you it’s not needed.

    I’ll keep it real simple like.

    When there was a proposal to raise annual leave to four wees, I had a think about it. Compared it to other countries and such. Considered that it was implemented during a time of growth and low unemployment, and that business tax cuts were also likely in the near future.

    There are a lot of things to take into consideration, sorry if you weren’t able to comprehend that, I thought that saying my experience “helped me form my opinion” would have made it clear enough, but I’ll see what I can do to make it easier for you net time.

    I don’t know what the best level is. If you’re capable of makinging such a leap of imagination, try and follow me here: More leave is better for employees. As our society becomes more productive (i.e. productivity per worker increases – and this is actually continuingly rising, believe it or not) society is able to relax the working conditions for workers.

    If you have any knowledge (from books and the like, please don’t get confused and start thinking I am claiming I am more than 200 years old) of what ’employment’ was like for people in the 17th and 18th centuries, you’ll be aware that labour laws, by and large, did not exist. This was, in part, due to low labour productivity.

    This has changed now, and our productivity affords us the ability to reduce work intensity without a significantly diminished output. With me so far?

    Doubtful, but I’ll mention anyways, that labour laws need to be continuously reassessed to ensure they provide a good balance between the requirements of employees and employers.

    Now as said, I’m not an expert in current labour best practice. A government does many things, and unfortunately I’m unable to track them all and dedicate time to research them all. I don’t have much of an opinion on the Kaingaroa Forest settlements underway at present, for example. Sorry if you feel let down.

    In this case, I can only gather you are an expert (or you’re just talking out your arse). Please explain why an extra weeks’ annual leave will place an unreasonable demand upon employers, given that we have a strongly growing economy, businesses have received a tax cut, and Labour had actively reduced ‘red tape’ leading to New Zealand becoming one of the easiestplaces to do business in the world.

  40. Weather Eye Of The North 40

    We can carry on all we like people but the fact remains that Key’s Freudian Slip tells us what everyone already knows. That’s Key, that’s National.

    Which means that unless National/National clones win first-past-the-post, hardly assured 8-9 months out, then National is in real trouble. Who is truly satisfied right now that the Winnie phenomenon is dead, or that the Greens won’t improve significantly ?

    And then there’s the Maori Party.

    The flakiness Key is manifesting does not shape as an efficacious tool for coalition/arrangement making.

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