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Pride in your work

Written By: - Date published: 10:05 am, July 25th, 2008 - 22 comments
Categories: national, slippery, workers' rights - Tags:

Some of our rightwing commentators are rejecting the argument that National’s ‘workplace policy’ strips workers of their rights. Problem is, every workers’ rights organisation thinks that it does and John Key does too.

Think about it, if you think people will welcome your policy do you slip it out with as little fanfare as possible? No, you do that if you think most people won’t like it. The comments on our threads show that nearly everyone (even National supporters) agree with workers’ rights, it’s logical to conclude National knows its policy is anti-work rights. As one of our commenters Bill noted:

“If Nat’s employment policy was not really going to change anything, (as the right seem to be arguing) it wouldn’t have been put out there in the first place. So what are the potential changes? Logically they can only be somewhere on the scale of negative scenarios that have been postulated. Positive changes would have been trumpeted by the Nats but I’ve heard nothing anywhere besides unconvincing protestations that things will remain much as they are at present”.

The entire tenor of John Key’s five minute media scrum on the policy was ‘no, no, we’re not taking away rights’. No-one, not National, not the media, could see the policy as good for workers. All Key could do was try to minimise people’s natural conclusion that it’s an attack on workers.

National is so fearful of how the public will react to their policies that they’ve tried to avoid talking about it as much a possible. There was no press conference, no pictures of leader and spokesperson confidently announcing bold, popular new policy (in fact, Key hasn’t held a press conference since the health discussion paper announcement, when he summed up the Nats’ concern for your health with ‘frankly, it’s a market’). The responsible spokesperson, Kate Wilkinson, turned off her phone and left Parliament as soon as the policy was announced. The only press release that came out in her name was an amateur rant about unions (yeah, those democratic organisation comprising over quarter of a million working Kiwis).

National fears you won’t vote for them if you know their policies. So much for pride in your work.

22 comments on “Pride in your work ”

  1. roger nome 1

    No reasonable person can think carefully about National’s IR policy release and come to the conclusion that it doesn’t erode employment rights.

    If we aren’t protected by law, employers will reduce labour costs as much as is possible, that’s what a competitive market’s all about after, maximising profits. So of course we’re going to see people losing their fourth week of holiday whether the like it or not – National calling it a “negotiable” trade off is ridiculous. If you want to retain your job you can’t always be saying no to the employer – i.e. does anyone really believe that 33% of NZ’s full time workers wants to be working over 50 hours per week? Of course not, but they want to keep their jobs more.

    Then we have the 90 day probationary employment Bill, which will certainly mean exposing our poorest and most vulnerable workers to arbitrary dismissal, and thereby providing employers a threat/lever to reduce wage costs/wages.

    Labour must make National pay for this attack on workers. It lost the right-wingers the last election in Australia, and it will do here as well if we are able to get the word out.

    (PS – hope you don’t mind all the links steve, i get a bit enthusiastic about this stuff!)

  2. good info roger. the spam blocker picks up when there’s more than 2 links I think.

  3. roger nome 3

    Cheers steve – I’ll try to keep it down to two links in the future.

    heh- On the subject of “pride in your work”, I really need to spend more time editing my posts. Just impatient and slightly dyslexic i guess.

  4. Nick C 4

    “Think about it, if you think people will welcome your policy do you slip it out with as little fanfare as possible?”

    Correct me if im wrong but hasnt this always been National Party policy, wasnt it released in 2005 and hasnt been changed since?

    I think the ‘slipping out’ you refer to was Bill English talking to the media about it, confirming that it was still national policy. This hardly constitutes a policy release. So its no wonder the MSM have had little to no coverage of this ‘news story’ that you have pursued so rabidly.

  5. Draco TB 5


    Cool, so, when are the MSM going to print a front page article titled:
    National: Same old, Same old
    Same old lies, same old misdirection, same old screw the worker and subsidise the wealthy party

  6. Nick C. That’s really your position? “There was no policy release?

    If you were to have gone to National’s policy page, you would have seen no workplace policy (just as you don’t see any economic policy there now). Now, if you go to that page, there is a workplace policy… hence, I think it’s fair to say a policy release took place.

  7. Matthew Pilott 7

    Why bother with NickC? Anyone using little commas to ridicule workers rights policy as not being worthy of a ‘news story’ obviously dosn’t think workers should have any decent rights in the first place.

    Correct me if im wrong but hasnt this always been National Party policy, wasnt it released in 2005 and hasnt been changed since?

    NickC, if that was the case (their IR policy not even being worthy of release because they’re rehashing old policy), are you happy that National have been lying to you over the past year or so? That they are not ambitious for New Zealand? That Key isn’t ambitious for New Zealand workers? That they don’t actually care about your income? That they no longer care about the ‘underclass’? That they no longer care about the wage gap with Australia?

    Don’t you feel a little betrayed? All those promises, all those call-to-arms… For nothing…?

    It was crap policy then and it’s crap policy now.

  8. roger nome 8

    “Correct me if im wrong but hasnt this always been National Party policy, wasnt it released in 2005 and hasnt been changed since?”

    Ok, i’ll correct you. It has been changed. It now only applies to businesses with less than 20 employees. Oh and learn how to use an apostrophe won’t you?

  9. ””””””””””””””””””””’ hi roger

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    Fewer than 20 employees! heh, sorry rn, a new pet hate!

    Can anyone tell me if there is a legal defnintion for ‘reasonable’? i.e. union access can’t be withheld without ‘reasonable’ cause. So would “sorry, we’re too busy today” suffice”? How about “sorry, we’ve got a couple of staff absent”, or “sorry, I think we might have a lot of work coming in”?

  11. Bill 11


    The first two excuses you made up would be seen as reasonable under current legislation! I know, because I’ve had similar crap thrown at me when trying to get access. I’ve argued the point through the relevant DoL channels…and had no joy.

    The argument thrown by the employer comes down to a claim that given the circumstances(too busy or short staffed), a union presence would disrupt business operations ie, the union is being unreasonable

    Which brings me to the point that while the Nat’s policy is heinous, the ERA is pretty dismal anyway and Labour ought not to be allowed off the hook insofar as they have kept the arena of Employment Law a pretty hostile place for workers and their unions.

  12. roger nome 12


    “The first two excuses you made up would be seen as reasonable under current legislation!”

    Then you should go to mediation and get a memorandum of understanding that states exactly what time(s) you can enter the workplace. Legally you can only be disallowed access in very extreme circumstances.

    this is an extract from my thesis:

    . In December 2001 the Employment Court found that the only statutory ground for denying a union access to a workplace was in cases which jeopardise national security or the investigation of offences (Rasmussen and McIntosh, 2002a: 142). The Court of Appeal supported this when it found that Carter Holt Harvey had breached union access and good faith provisions by denying two union leaders access when attempting to ascertain whether new employees were doing the work of striking employees.

  13. Nick C 13

    No Mathew believe it or not im not feeling betrayed that National has right wing employment policies.

    I dont believe that Key is no longer ambitious for New Zealand, nor do i believe that he is no longer planning to close the wage gap with Australia. My knowledge of economics tells me that the best way to improve wages is to have (shock horror) less government intervention in the economy. Governments and can try to artificially prop up wages but it is cold comfort. What we really need to do is improve productivity, something that has fallen under this govt (http://www.nzbr.org.nz/documents/releases/dismalproductivity.pdf).

  14. but nick c… even if you were correct that less govt intervention= more growth what policy does national have to remove govt intervention?

    and productivity has not fallen, you’re talking about the rate of productivity growth, if you can’t understand the difference, i guess we can see your level of economic knowledge… and productivity growth slows when you’re moving to full employment because you’re bringing in less productivity workers… a study of productivity only concerning people who have been employed continuously for 7 years, shows productivty growth has remained steadu at 2% per annum.

  15. Bill 15

    Yeah. We got a memorandum of understanding. But as you point out it usually contains time constraints. In our case not in specified ‘busy periods’. (fast food outlet.) But since all the workers were rostered shift workers and were not necessarily working outside of designated ‘busy periods’…

  16. roger nome 16

    “We got a memorandum of understanding. But as you point out it usually contains time constraints.”

    Perhaps you didn’t bargaing hard enough? Like I say, the case law pretty much gives you carte blanche when it comes to access.

  17. roger nome 17

    “and productivity growth slows when you’re moving to full employment because you’re bringing in less productivity workers”

    And it improves when unemployment increases rapidly because you’re shedding low capital intensity jobs. Productivity growth has to be evened out over the business cycle if it’s to be a meaningful indicator.

  18. Leftie 18

    And I’ve said this before too…..Sure, we will get a tax cut whatever party wins the next election, but what if that same party in Government is tweaking employment laws to directly remove money from worker’s pockets? Union or non-union, this is a SERIOUS issue and could result in less money in our pockets.
    Do we as workers of NZ, take the political party that will give us more money in our pockets or less?
    National foolishly believes that there are enough employers in NZ to decide the next Government

  19. Felix 19

    Nick C:

    My knowledge of economics tells me that the best way to improve wages is to have (shock horror) less government intervention in the economy.

    Care to show some data to back this up?

  20. Swampy 20

    “Some of our rightwing commentators are rejecting the argument that National’s ‘workplace policy’ strips workers of their rights. Problem is, every workers’ rights organisation thinks that it does”

    Why don’t you tell the full story about these “workers rights” organisations? They are all trade unions, Labour Party lackeys.

  21. Swampy 22

    National sees the opinion polls trend clearly indicating the public’s mood for change.

    I work in the compulsory education sector, one of the very early moves by this government was to stitch up union control of this sector with various deals resulting in unnecessary politicisation.

    The fact that Labour will move the unions into such positions of power is one of the most negative aspects of their policy. Almost every new candidate these days has a union background which is quite nonsensical when it comes to representing a cross section of NZ society.

    Huge $$$ amounts have been lavished on favoured union sector pay settlements e.g. nurses, teachers which is all paid for by the taxpayers so Labour can afford to be generous especially in an election year. The rail buyback rewards a key affiliate union of the Labour Party.

    If you read some of the rhetoric coming out of these unions it is pure communism and old school Labour movement in some parts.

    Remember the winter of discontent early in Labour’s term with some parts of the proposed Employment Relations Act being dropped to satisfy employer concerns, these clauses were later quietly reintroduced in another bill and became law regardless.

    Someone claimed disempowering unions would result in more strikes, in my experience when unions had huge power prior to the ECA, that was the period when strikes were most prevalent so I do not accept such claims.

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