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Previewing the jobs summit

Written By: - Date published: 5:50 pm, February 26th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: employment, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Tomorrow, John Key’s much anticipated jobs summit will take place. It’s a big deal, it’s got a logo and everything.

Unfortunately, John seems to have left The Standard off the invite list along with all but a few unionists, the unemployed, women’s groups, and any party left of centre. If you’re going to be there, feel free to let us know your thoughts and impressions as it happens, contacts here.

Here’s what I think you’ll find. The businessmen (and they will be nearly all men, only 35 of 200 invitees are female) will outnumber the workers and workers’ representatives massively. So, the sessions in the different work-groups will be dominated by pro-business, anti-union ideas. The appearance will be of strong agreement that the way to protect workers is to favour business. There won’t be a real platform for other ideas – most of the people who have them haven’t been invited and the unionists who are there will be out-numbered.

Oh, sure, you’ll get a chance to speak and people will nod their heads, just don’t expect them to listen. But, then, don’t fear any radical anti-worker stuff either. The anti-union provisions of National’s election promises will not be part of this summit. The agenda is already set – Key as uniter, feel-good populism, small favours for business, none for workers. This is just a PR occasion to ratify that agenda by showing how everyone is behind the Government’s ideas. For that to work, no group can be made too angry.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be outcomes from the summit, we can’t have this do-fest be nothing more than a talk-fest. But it will be things like the other banks following ASB’s lead and announcing a business loans fund directed at job creation, which looks impressive at first but is really just a reshuffling of existing loan money. In a long-shot, we might even have Business New Zealand head Phil ‘my only concern is the workers’ O’Reilly and the Council of Trade Unions’ Helen Kelly announce some kind of joint working party on job protection. There will probably be an announcement of a government policy, maybe some kind of small subsidy for employers, but don’t expect anything that might make a real difference. Big job creation schemes will take lots of government money, and Bill English has ruled that out.

Every participant will call the summit a success, unless something very ideological is sprung on them. But the desire to keep everyone happy will prevent any significant action from resulting. This won’t make the slightest difference to jobs in the real world. In a year’s time, the outcomes of the summit will be as ripples from a pebble dropped in a storm-tossed sea.

19 comments on “Previewing the jobs summit”

  1. Rex Widerstrom 1

    But the outcome of every summit is barely a ripple on a pond, Steve. And resorting to them when bereft of ideas (or with ideas but lacking the courage to implement them and so hoping to manipulate participants into believing they devised them) is by no means confined to National. Or even the right. Rudd’s “summit” just after he was elected, which was little more than an excuse for photo ops with film stars and Aboriginal leaders, is just the most recent example.

    So while I agree with you, I think it’d only be fair to point out that Key is hardly the first politician to resort to this ruse.

    Incidentally, I take your point about the ASB’s move. But again, if it’s shifting money from the purposes they used to be happy to fund (speculative share purchasing, for instance) to backing real, productive, employing business activity then it’s surely to be commended?

  2. I wonder if Aunty Helen would of invited the folks at kiwiblog if she had a conference?

  3. Janet 3

    Anyone remember the big economic summit of 1984? Lange’s Government had just been voted in and there was a big talk fest. Being 1984 very few women were invited (probably none) so a bit later the women had their own summit, and the Ministry of Women’ Affairs came out of that.

    But no one saw the real enemy lurking in the shadows that was to soon to hijack the whole feel good progressive mood of the era and destroy jobs and infrastructure and much of the welfare state – Rogernomics.

    So what is lurking under this summit?

  4. AS the Crisis deepens in severity in countries like France, Ireland and Iceland, the previous neoliberal consensus has been swept away in a tide of mass protest. Unions in many countries are now leading the struggle against this failed economic model, and not by seeking partnership by the discredited parties of the right.

    Socialists active in the trade union movement in Auckland do not believe that we have anything in common with these exploiters of low pay, these greed engorged bankers or these sad feel-good snake oil charlatans enjoying a brief honeymoon before the dark clouds of economic depression rip this country asunder. We think that Aotearoa will also see the rise of a people’s movement that questions the priorities of the bankers and the bosses, as 70,000 people lose their jobs this year.

    For any members of Labour, Greens or the wider Left who agree with us- we’d invite you to join with us tomorrow on the picket outside. Capacity building and wound licking aside, Its time for an Opposition to become visible on the streets again, as the Global left rises to the challenge of this maelstrom.

  5. vto 5

    I thought the unions were invited..? Silly not to given that its about jobs and employment. Seriously. Those doing the actual work most definitely have ideas about the work. The business folk have ideas about the business side. But you need both don’t you? I mean.. how many businesses don’t need the workers? And vice versa?

    Don’t take it personally though. It is clearly just politics.

    Though it will be very interesting indeed to see if Key can pull of another move to the centre and snaffle some left support.

    Re ‘socialist aotearoa’ and some of rave’s recent musings and the like … this will not catch on like some big movement. There may well be more protests over the next period and some minor social unrest, but this is NZ, not France. We all have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, rellies down the road and kaimoana over the hill. The average take on things will be ‘f..k all that finding work shit and stress, lets just take some time off with the kids instead’.

  6. rave 6

    So this is NZ, VTO. Well welcome to the real world where life is not one of glorious harmony disturbed only by the sound of distant gunfire.
    Were not that far away from the action. French colonies like Guadaloupe and Martinique are striking, this could easily spread to the French territories in the Pacific, like New Caledonia (Kanaky) and Tahiti. They are all facing the rightwing arsehole Sarkosy who tells them the same thing you do – go fishing.

    These countries are feeling the impact of dramatic rises in cost of living. The same in Eastern Europe as well as the countries mentioned by Socialist Aotearoa. This is a global crisis and NZ is not immune.

    This Job summit is about how to force workers to work despite price inflation and job insecurity. The 90 day Act is designed to create a pool of cheap labour to keep industry running. WINZ will be on our tail to front up regardless. Key will cut the Super fund and use it to rescue iconic firms like F&P and Air NZ if necessary.Its all about keeping capitalism alive and to hell with the workers.

    Not all workers can survive on kaimoana as you and Sarkosy so charmingly picture it. They have homes to pay for, kids to educate, health systems to access etc. We are not a bunch of back to the earth peasants calmly vegetating to your instructions.

    What you will find is that workers spontaneously take control of the things they need to survive. In Latin America when workers are starving they ransack the supermarkets. Of course that will trigger the next rightwing plan to call everyone who breaks the law terrorists and slam them in jail or shoot them on sight as they did to Alexandros Grigoropolis in Greece before last Xmas and to a unionist in Guadeloupe the other day, and to union leaders in Colombia virtually every day.

    Key is laying the foundations for criminalising social resistance taking the advice of Lord Ashcroft who specialises in advising the megarich on how to avoid tax while at the same time forming vigilante gangs to target petty criminals who have a drug habit or need food. Key has Sharples on board to contract out the new jails to iwi to manage the sensible sentences.

    Criminalising the resistance will cause it to escalate so better get ready for the bosses when the put out the call to swear in special constables to take on the workers when they riot for food and ransack the supermarkets. You will have to decide if you are going to protect private property while workers starve or side with them against the Keys and Ashcrofts of this world.

  7. vto 7

    rave, I hear what you’re saying re the international stuff and see it myself. And know it. And even its effect on NZ, but not to that extent. Your Key and 90 day stuff though is wobbly. It’s just my opinion, but that’s what it is.

    Special constables and all that sure, maybe, as one-offs. But even Maurice Shdbolt didn’t see them as sustainable. And despite germans and russians and japs getting to our shores within the last 100 years. Which many of us are blind to.

    I just disagree on your take on the nz nature.

    Anyway, who are they gonna call as the ‘special constables’? You? Me? Your neighbour? The next suburb or town? Nightcaps? Paeroa? Thorndon? Mob? Road knights? Gizzy?

    And who is this prick Ashcroft anyway. Sticking his nose in and getting time on the radio and shit. He should just fu.k off.

  8. vto 8

    And two more random things…

    1, Many, if not nearly all, NZers can in fact ‘survive on kaimoana’. Or similar. Just take a look out your back door or over your back fence or paddock ffs.

    2. Many of those ‘controlling’ the means of support etc are in fact, or have been, ‘the workers’. There will be no need to ‘ransack the supermarches’ because the owners will simply open the doors! Wanna lay a bet on it?

  9. bobo 9

    At least it will give caterers a job for the day if nothing else, will Lord Ashcroft be guest speaking, is he still in the country?

  10. Tane 10

    Some unions are invited, they’re just heavily outnumbered by business. I think that’s what Steve was getting at.

    Captcha: $6.95 Wagstaff – creepy.

  11. rave 11

    My point VTO is why should we listen to Sarkozy and you and go fishing? Guadeloupeans don’t, what makes us that stupid?
    FIsh oil only does so much good for the brain it doesnt actually provide an education or a health system.
    If the Supermarket franchisees side with workers good on them. That won’t stop the cops from making arrests. Its called law and order. Just look at Greece.
    I used because of the significance in NZ history of dividing the farmers, students and backward workers from workers struggles and break strikes. In Latin America they are usually called paramilitaries or even fascist gangs because they are drawn from the small business types and lumpen workers and are used to intimidate and murder the leaders of the workers movements.
    If this crisis lives up to its early reputation then don’t think we won’t see a similar situation as we did in 1912-13 and the 1930s. Liberals like Shadbolt like to think NZ has left that sort of history behind. They are in for a shock.

  12. rave 12

    I’m in moderation for using the “fa***st” word.
    Here is a correction to the second to last para.
    I used the “special constables”because of the significance in NZ history of dividing the farmers, students and backward workers from workers struggles and breaking strikes. In Latin America they are usually called paramilitaries or even fa***st gangs because they are drawn from the small business types and lumpen workers and are used to intimidate and murder the leaders of the workers movements.

  13. BLiP 13

    Why are you even bothering? Do you even for the least second expect that John Key and the National government care?

  14. Seti 14

    Why would the unions be invited? I thought it was about creating jobs not obstacles.

  15. lprent 15

    Personally I think that the whole thing is pointless. It looks to me like it is a way to use taxpayers money to PR a set of previously decided NACT policies.

    What those are is pretty obvious

    I think that the main reason for having the PR-fest is to allow some bad legislation to be undemocratically shoved through the house without going through select committee. ie the NACT’s are looking for a tame ‘mandate’.

  16. randal 16

    this is the country of little people
    they have no economies of scale and spend any profits immediately on pointless goods and services but anyway the only people they can exploit is their families or their casual workers and funnily enough they are psychologically disposed to do this anyway
    this is just a bunfest for the little people to feel important
    it wont make any difference to the trough we are in at the moment
    they think they are going to re run the nineties but there is no propitious cocatenation at the moment only a jarring disjunction that may last longer than some people think

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