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Rich attacks unions

Written By: - Date published: 6:56 pm, December 27th, 2011 - 98 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, Unions - Tags:

Katherine Rich writes in the Herald:

The Ports of Auckland strike action this Christmas period, the busiest time of year for the grocery sector, brings back bad good memories of how regularly New Zealanders were held to ransom by strike action at critical times. had first world terms and conditions and didn’t have to move to Australia to own their own home.

There, I fixed that for you, Katherine.

In a similar vein, here’s a graph from the guardian mapping union membership against the proportion of wealth the top 1% have in Britain – I doubt it’s much different in New Zealand.

As the byline in the Herald says: Katherine Rich is chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council

That’s a 1% sounding title if ever I heard one…

98 comments on “Rich attacks unions ”

  1. IrishBill 1

    To be fair to Rich, her heart really doesn’t seem in her opinion piece.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      That’s entirely too generous of you.

    • newsense 1.2

      I felt that as well Irish-

      “At one point I recall the classic joke to anyone intending to cross on the ferry during holiday time was to wish them luck!”

      Um- err neither classic nor joke I would have thought.

      A fair whack of us can’t remember the 70s…

      Waiting for the article calling for the sacking of the CEO of Auckland Ports, as despite earning upwards of xxx,000 he has allowed there to be an industrial dispute that has run into a crucial time of the year, lost a major contract and has a lower productivity than than the Port of Tauranga.

      • Lanthanide 1.2.1

        My uncle who is an investor in the Lyttleton port company and attends all of their general shareholder meeting, was telling my sister and I about their tangles with the unions. You may remember some years ago there was a picket line and a woman got killed by a car that was driving through it. He said that was basically the result of the CEO who was very combative towards the unions. He was replaced with someone who understands that actually the best way to be productive is to have a constructive relationship with the unions, get them onside: they haven’t had any problems since.

        So yes, sounds like the CEO of Auckland Ports should lose his job.

  2. mik e 2

    Rich by name rich by inheritance filthy rich .I had to laugh at her spin on the prices of groceries in New Zealand earlier this year saying that we should be prepared to pay more as the manurfactures weren’t making enough money.BOO hoo most other countries have much more competition in their grocery retail sectors.So rich bitch says we shouldn’t stock up on groceries when they are discounted.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      If supermarkets don’t like people stocking up on groceries when they’re on sale, then it’s obvious the power to solve the problem lies with the supermarkets. You can’t expect the shoppers to deliberately decide to act irrationally. Supermarkets could easily put limits on their sales (pak ‘n sav routinely does) or just not discount as much.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Your suggestion is not going to help NZ communities.

        • Lanthanide

          I never said it would. Some rich idiot asking consumers not to stock up on things on special is quite simply delusional. The supermarkets are fully in control of this behaviour and so far they have chosen not to nip it in the bud. So we must assume that they aren’t too worried about it.

      • aerobubble 2.1.2

        pns is consistently lower price than the other supermarket, why? Surely in any competitive market managers would be being fired for not keeping pace with pns. unless you realize what pns do. they buy long sitting shelf product ceap and then sell it. Quality, consistency, choice, price stability, variability all ignored whereas countdown has the same poor range but sells on these qualities. So we really we have two monopolies in food retaiil, the other second rate world standard. And why? Well simple we have too many cars, retailers place their stores out of the way and once you get there, parked, etc your pretty much too lazy to go to the next one. not like in competitive markets where stores are near each other or a minute away by car.

        There is no culture of innovation except in individuals desperate to earn a million and more to a oz beach bach. Thats the effect of no cgt, of no gst off fresh food and books+kids stuff, no tax threshold, and a fleet of noisy old baggers.

    • tc 2.2

      Rich also needs a lesson in logistics, most goods consumed over this period landed by December to be able to be make it to shelves via freight then warehouse then distribution chains.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Hmmm, wonder what she thinks about this union.

    • Zetetic 3.1

      and what is the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council but a form of union?

      of course, most top-pay professions are more than unionised, they’re guilds. You can’t become a lawyer unless an existing lawyer vouchs for you and you pass their moral (class) tests. De-unionisation is for the working class.

  4. McFlock 4

    “Before the latest strike, one company with a large operation in the middle of Auckland switched to the Port of Tauranga as its main distribution port simply because it was more cost effective and more reliable. Many would assume that bypassing the closest port would be illogical, but for that business Tauranga’s productivity levels mean it’s still competitive even with additional land transport costs.”
    Closest port? Because as we all know, the only place in NZ people need logistics to and from is downtown Auckland. But then, I’m a hypersensitive mainlander.

  5. Dv 5

    One thing i have not seen discussed is that labour is mobile, but the port is not.

    • McFlock 5.1

      Are you talking the physical port, or the corporate entity that chooses to feed on it at this point in time?

      • Dv 5.1.1

        The physical part.
        The corporate entity needs somewhere to feed!

        • McFlock

          But the corporate entity isn’t concerned about where it feeds. It can go somewhere else if it needs to. So who cares if the infrastructure is immobile?

          • Colonial Viper

            The port is a strategic hard asset vital to the functioning of the real economy. As such it is far more prized than the financialised, fake, ponzi-‘assets’ that the 0.1% usually deal in.

            • McFlock

              My impression was that the point regarding the relative mobility of labour and physical assets imlied some type of advantage to labour (i.e. who can threaten to walk away). However, the real negotiating partner is not the physical port, but the corporate entity. Due to the fungibility of capital, the mobility advantage rests squarely with the corporate entity.

              • Colonial Viper

                Indeed. We need to reinstitute capital control mechanisms.

                And Workers Councils need voting representation on all major NZ boards of directors.

                • Ari

                  A guaranteed 50% of votes representing workers both union and non-union, IMO.

                • millsy

                  Sceptical at first, but the ‘common/public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange’, doesn’t seem like a bad idea after all — as in being extended across the wider economy.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    It wouldn’t even have to be that radical to create a watershed change in NZ’s political economy, IMO. A 20% community shareholding of every major capitalist corporation would do, for a start.

                    As a concrete example, in terms of Westpac’s recent $450M cash earnings: imagine if the community received $90M of that profit. It could then decide how it was to be invested and spent locally to support neighbourhood enterprises and community services.

                    • Mike

                      Wouldn’t even need to be that radical, just have company charters like they used to in the USA. A corporation needed a charter to be in business and they had to prove how they were benefiting society whilst carrying out business. If they weren’t benefiting society their charter wasn’t renewed. Simple really.

                      In regards to the banks, why not have public banks. For example, an Auckland Bank could be set up by Len which would exist not for profit in monetary terms, but for profit in the long term by it’s benefits to the Auckland region and it’s people and businesses. It would have a captive deposit base of $billions from ratepayers as all rates revenue, along with fines, license fees, etc would be deposited solely at the Auckland bank. It could then make use of the fractional reserve system to create very low interest loans to the council (who are about to borrow from overseas – OMG!) and to individuals and businesses. Imagine you’re starting up a business and you can get that loan you need at a very low fixed interest rate. You’re far more likely to go ahead with the loan and employ people if you have the security of knowing exactly what your payments will be each month and that there is no compound interest!

                      First home buyers could be given low or even no interest mortgages. Low mortgage rates with no variable interest gives young first home buyers confidence to invest the extra money they have in their pockets each month into maybe starting up a new business, or spending it into the economy rather than going into more debt. Need new infrastructure? Simple, the council can borrow from the Auckland bank. As long as the bank covers it’s costs, that’s all that matters. Profit in dollars is not part of the banks goals. It exists to benefit Auckland through funding infrastructure, business growth and home ownership.

                      All it takes is a council with balls and one which is not owned by the bankers and their corporate mates.

                      There would also be plenty of new commercial banking business through Auckland’s economic growth for the existing banks if they get stroppy about it.It is ridiculous that we allow private foreign owned banks to create and control our entire money supply, keeping us in debt servitude whilst slowly acquiring all of the real wealth.

                  • Fotran

                    How can you put the two Ports together. They are totally different animals. Auckland Council (ratepayers) own Port of Auckland.
                    Tauranga is a privately owned and stock market quoted company.
                    Auckland should sell POA and then it can merge with Tauranga. In its present form it can’t.

                    • KJT

                      Both run in the corporate style.

                      One has a competent Manager. One has incompetent Managers! Who cannot see that better management would do more for efficiency than cutting labour costs.

                      And i will give you one guess who is a major shareholder in Tauranga.

    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      One thing i have not seen discussed is that labour is mobile, but the port is not

      That’s right, time to import in cheap port workers from Fiji and around the Pacific, and fire those trouble making over priced NZ workers.

  6. RedLogix 6

    The graph in the OP yet again reinforces the idea that something very, very powerful changed in the world in 1980.

    Yes I know Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan, the rise of neo-liberalism and all that… all true. But nonetheless part of me still wonders what unseen tide was it that ebbed in that year?

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      You think there is a factor(s) beyond that normally attributed to neo-liberal free market restructuring of the world economic system? Particularly in the late 1970’s through the 1980’s?

      Perhaps these two links are suggestive



      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        Now that’s … something I wouldn’t have ordinarily thought of. Thanks.

        • Colonial Viper

          You’re welcome.

          American corporations realised very early on that the opening up of China would provide them the opportunity to perform massive labour and environmental cost arbitrage in the interests of their own profitability. Walmart, Sam Walton and the Walton multi-billions are the perfect case study in how effective this was.

          So are the tens of thousands of closed US factories and workshops, with the associated economic activity and capital now relocated to China.

          Put another way, over many many years American boards of directors knowingly and deliberately impoverished nearby neighbourhoods, American towns and cities across their own nation by transferring capital and know-how to China, in order to maximise short and medium term EPS for themselves and their major shareholders.

          • RedLogix

            And not only a cost to the USA… at what cost also to China? A colleague of mine was telling me about her trip home to Beijing over the Christmas break… and how the thing she hates about home is never being able to see the sky. (Now I realise that air pollution in that city is a complex thing due to winds from the desert regions… but not most of the time.)

            In many ways China was the original pre-technology sustainable society; one from which the rest of the world still has much to learn. But it’s probably wrong to romanticise the life of villagers in rural China either. For some centuries, since at least the first corrosive impact of the opium trade, a very old and largely stable culture was progressively unravelled to the point where the Communist revolutionaries found fertile ground for change.. in a people ordinarily resistant to it.

            Yet by comparison the lives of urban workers in modern China, while demonstrably better in purely monetary terms, still seems to come at a very, very high social, environmental and personal cost to tens of millions.

            • Colonial Viper

              Yes, agree with what you have written. And coming into Chinese cities for a professional tertiary education is not necessarily what its cracked up to be either.

              All around the world we are seeing that university educations are of declining use. I believe this to be a characteristic of over financialisation and of peak oil: the classes of labour which will be in favour will undergo a slow rewind, finishing back to something akin to the 1940’s and 1950’s.


              By the way, even highly skilled Wall St MBA types are getting the shaft now.


              What this means to me: the top 0.1% are now sacrificing their former lieutenants and footsoldiers, the top 10%.

              • RedLogix

                the classes of labour which will be in favour will undergo a slow rewind, finishing back to something akin to the 1940′s and 1950′s.

                Yes.. a mate of mine who is an good trade industrial electrician was telling me at lunch last week that he invoiced out over $300k this last year…. working barely 30 hours a week.

                Competent, skilled tradespeople rarely ever go begging.

                • KJT

                  Still not that highly paid in NZ though.

                  Invoicing 300k a year would result in an income of about 50k to 90k.

                  • Mike

                    How do you figure that? If you’re invoicing 300k a year then your real income is way higher than what you’ve stated.

                    • lprent

                      Depends what the costs are made up of.

                      Most trades here would include materials at rates similar to getting them from a bulk hardware centre. Trade prices aren’t that far below so there isn’t a high profit margin. That would typically be more than half of the billing from the bills I get.

                      Businesses even trades have fixed costs of things like phones, offices, vehicles, phone answerers, insurances, etc etc…

                      KJT probably about right for trades – between a third and a sixth depending on the business. If I was still a contract programmer and was billing 300k, then it’d be different. But then there is usually there is dead time between jobs that sucks the billing down.

                  • Mike

                    All the fixed costs you mentioned are tax deductible so don’t affect after tax income. Trades shouldn’t be making a profit on materials, just meeting costs.

                    Regardless, an income of 50k + puts you in the top 25% of wage and salary earners and an income of 90k puts you in the top 10%.

                    • KJT

                      Tax deductible just means that you do not pay tax on your expenses. 28% if you are on the top tax rate. They still come out of your income.

                      Why shouldn’t trades make a profit on materials? At the very least you have to cover the costs of replacing anything that is defective. The supplier may replace the materials, but you still have to cover the costs of putting them in.

                      Happy for a customer to supply the materials if they wish. Everyone can get trade prices these days so any builders markup does not actually cover the costs of chasing up materials and guaranteeing them.

                      Building suppliers have 100% markups. Better to have a go at them if you want

                      Tradespeople are in the top 25% as far as skills go.
                      It takes years to be a good builder for instance.
                      They should be in the top 25% of earners.

                      Too many people think that a tradespersons hourly rate is what they earn.

                      In fact if they get half they are lucky.

                      Out of that comes training, tools, tool blades and spares, running vehicles, holiday and sick pay, time quoting, time chasing up bills (should be a TV programe on dodgy customers), time fixing tools, time with customers who just want the cheapest quote and time doing accounts.

                      Everyone accepts $400 hourly rates from marginal competent managers, lawyers and accountants, but they all moan about paying a 10th of that to someone who builds their house. The builder has higher overheads than any of them.

                      Plenty of DIY’ers reckon they could do a tradesmens job. Most I would not even employ as a Labourer.

    • Pete 6.2

      The peak of the baby boom was in 1957, so by the late 70s/early 80s the boomers were a powerful voting bloc that had just come on the scene. Few of them knew the genuine deprivation that their parents had shielded them from. They’d never known the food riots of the Depression, or the rationing of World War 2 – what use had they for safety nets, they asked themselves. So they started dismantling the welfare state. It was death by a thousand tax cuts.

      • Carol 6.2.1


        I’m a boomer, born into fairly austere times, growing up in the 50s/ early 60s. My friends and I had thrift and saving drummed into us. We valued the welfare state, and were appalled when the neolibs started dismantling it. Many of us protested against it. The neolib mantra of spend for the country, easy debt, and rampant sonsumerism seemed like a craziness to us.

        Read the likes of David Harvey on the right wing think tanks etc, that had been beavering away for years. It all came to fruition with Thatcher etc in power (not boomers by the way). It wasn’t the boomers per se, but the rightwingers of various generations with power and a desire to turn back the popularity of the welfare state.

        • Zola

          + 1 My experiences are similiar.

          • Vicky32

            + 1 My experiences are similiar.

            And mine! My mother was an ‘elderly primigravida’, she and my father had both experienced the Depression – and I was brought up to be a real miser! (I still am, to the surprise of my sons..) 🙂 even though I am technically a boomer!

        • Colonial Viper

          Read the likes of David Harvey on the right wing think tanks etc, that had been beavering away for years. It all came to fruition with Thatcher etc in power (not boomers by the way).

          This is what the Left is still missing to a larger extent. A cohesive academic framework of theory and plans pre-prepared and ready to be implemented rapidly and widely when given the opportunity in a new political environment.

          • Carol

            This is what the Left is still missing to a larger extent. A cohesive academic framework of theory and plans pre-prepared and ready to be implemented rapidly and widely when given the opportunity in a new political environment.

            Yes, CV, agreed. But it is developing. And within that there needs to be aclear understanding of how POWER works and can be best counteracted by the left.

            It wasn’t just that the right had think tanks etc, but they staged a multi-pronged attack on welfare states and socialism through various institutions in which they had a powerful stake: eg. I was living in London in the late 70s and in the 80s. I recall Brian Gould, then an MP for the UK Labour Party, saying he had been working in the financial centre in the City of London during the time of the UK Labour government in the 70s. While there, Gould saw how the financial types, money traders, bankers etc, were manipulating the system to undermine the Labour Government.

            Once in power, Thatcher set out to end the popularity of socialism and/or welfare state provisions in the big metroplitan areas in the UK. Councils like the Greater London Council were dominated by left-wing elected members. So, ultimately she broke up those big metropolitan councils like the GLC, into smaller autonomous boroughs.

            Then there was the move to get sympathetic editiors and producers in chanrge of the MSM, the attacks on union (the miners, the teaching unions)…. and on and on.

            There was so much anger at Thatcher’s government amongst most people I knew, many protests, strikes etc, yet the Tories still kept getting re-elected. The pro-Tory messages via the MSM were enough to swing enough voters to the Tories – under FPP when far less than 50% of the electorate voted for Thatcher’s government.

            The only way to combat such ruthless, widespread power, is by collective action by the less powerful – that’s the reasoning behind workers’ unions. And we have seen a different way of collective action more recently by the Occupy movement – this movement that has given as a powerful slogan of the 1% versus te 99%, and that advocates widespread discussions and collective consultations on new ways forward.

            These OWS style forums and actions are the kind of “think tanks” the left and the less powerful can work through to counter the power of wealth, and institutional power.

        • deuto

          +2, Carol. Well said.

        • Frank Macskasy

          Oh yes, Carol, very much “Really!”.

          Do you know how many tax cuts have been renacted since (and including) 1986?

          Answer: six.

          Do you know when User Pays in Tertiary Education was implemented?

          Answer: 1992.

          Those little facts, plus others, led me to add it all up; http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/greed-is-good/

          There will also be individuals who stand apart from the general cohort. But I think in this case it’s fairly clear to Boomers voted tax cut after tax cut for themselves – whilst continuing to re-elect neo-liberal governments.

          And the last evidence to convict my generation of naked greed? Despite 66% proclaiming to disagree with asset sales – voters still re-elected John Key’s government.

          Sez it all, really.

      • RedLogix 6.2.2

        Yes the boomers changed everything as they passed through their lives; but I’m in two minds about the cause and effect you mention. It’s sort of compelling, but like Carol I’m in that exact age group too… and neo-liberalism is as baffling to me as it is to her.

        Moreover we were only in our mid 20’s in 1980… hardly at the peak of our socio-economic power or political influence. That wouldn’t come for another few decades. It seems to me the high priests of neo-liberalism, like Friedman were of a generation wholly older than us.

        Besides; the boomer generation was spread over the period 1945-1960 almost 15 years. It hardly correlates with the sharp inflexion point that the very year 1980 was.

        • Ari

          I imagine like all generations, Boomers came in the annoying, self-entitled, bratty version and the awesome kick-ass community-focused and intelligent version. It’s possible that there’s some statistical difference among the boomers, but that’s not really the kind of thing that can be proven. All we know is that around the time when boomers started getting into politics in western countries, there were several rightward swings.

          • RedLogix

            I’m still not so sure Ari. In 1980 the oldest of us was still only 35… hardly a dominant force in a game where most politicians don’t really get to some actual influence until at least their mid-40’s.

            Yes we became more of a solid voting block by then, but really it wasn’t the boomer generation who was selling the snake oil.

          • KJT


            Look at the ages of most of the first wave of RWNJ neo-lib politicians.

            Most were born pre baby boomers.

            Look who is voting for them now. Gen x and y.
            Because JK is so cute!

            Making it a generational thing is just the usual RWNJ tactics of setting us against each other while they run away with the loot.

            • Carol

              Making it a generational thing is just the usual RWNJ tactics of setting us against each other while they run away with the loot.

              Exactly, KJT.

              As I sid in my comment above at, the wealthy elite used the positions of power and influence to undermine the popularity of left wing provisions in the late 70s and 80s.

              I was teaching in London when Thatcher came to power, and, at that time, I was so hopeful of the way the Inner London Education Authority (part of the GLC – Greater London Council) was working to develop an education system that would enable the majority of children, from all classes and cultures, to lead a good life. And Thatcher set out to demolish both the ILEA and the GLC because of their left leaning policies. And she took on the teachers’ unions. We protested, went on endless strikes against her new policies for education. In the end Thatcher put through a law to make the industrial actions of teacher unions illegal.

              And there were large numbers of boomers amongst those active in the teaching unions.

              Then we saw how so many young children and young adults were being seduced by the promise of all the shiny new consumerist things, especially those with expensive designer labels. And this was what seemed to be a big motivator…. the whole aspiration thing, for too many of the younger generations. But also the young needed to work and study hard to chase these aspirations, and, as a consequence, mostly seemed to be too busy to be bothered with politics and political action.

              The whole shift from the dominance of left-wing ideals, to neoliberalism was heart-breaking. But also a lesson in the need to find ways to counteract the power of the right-wing elite. Collective actions through unions is one method -which is why the political Right aim to weaken them, if they possibly can.

      • lprent 6.2.3

        I was born in 1959. In the late 70’s and early 80’s I was going through university for the first time in my late teens and early 20’s.

        We didn’t have much deprivation, but we surely knew about it. My parents were 40 when I was 20. They grew up during the war. I had grandparents who grew up during the depression, and great grand parents who grew up in the 1890’s depression all alive.

        And at age 20 you have about as much political power as kids have now because we were about as reliable about getting on the roll and voting as they are now.

        I think that your timing is off and it rather screws up your theory. Do you really think that kids don’t listen to their families? That they don’t learn their prudences from them as well?

  7. anne 7

    When it comes to workers rights the nats and act and that rich woman (no pun intended) could not give a rats ass for the rest of the population.
    Golman Sach’s before the bailout in the US were paying 34% tax now they are paying 1%,this is the crux of the inequality world wide and happens in nz also,most business use accountants to lessen their tax liability,most corporation and off-shore business as well are bleeding nz dry,the
    sad fact is that we have a national govt full of sleezy behaviour where our finances are concerned
    and there is not a damn thing nz tax payers can do about it,the authorities wont act,the police wont act,the media wont act,looks like american style politics is alive and well in nz.

  8. millsy 8

    Rich has no right to lecture the wharfies unions about productivity when, in the supermarkets she represents, the management have only 2 or 3 checkouts running at one time with long lines of people waiting 5-10 minutes to be served. Especially when a supervisor has to come round and OK booze and fag purchases – AND, when a certain product runs out, you have to wait till tomorrow for more to come – hard luck if you need it that day.

    Just have to get that off my chest.

    As for wages and conditions, the ultimate aim, IMO is to have the workers at PoA working insecure casual hours (preferably for labour hire companies such as AWF) for minimum wage.

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      ‘Efficiency’ and convenience of profitability is for us and our shareholders; extra costs, waiting and delays are for you. Didn’t you know?

      • newsense 8.1.1

        haven’t you seen the new self service with fewer workers supermarkets?

        the answer has already been given…and it’s not good news for unemployment

        • millsy

          But if they break down, there doesnt seem to me much effort made to get it fixed. Just like the toasting oven in a local Subway outlet, and the hot food heater at a local woolworths last year.

        • Colonial Viper

          Yeah I refuse to use those things. Essentially we have an economy know where companies become more profitable for capital by getting rid of labour. This is an economy where workers are not wanted.

          As an aside:


          • Bob Stanforth

            I get your point CV, but where is your line? Do you use cash machines? Drink vending machines? Online banking?

            Gartner produced an interesting report earlier this year, about the rise of online jobs and the impact on more ‘traditional’ employment. The assumption was that online jobs were killing communities, shops, bricks ‘n mortor etc etc. The Gartner study showed that for every job that the ‘web killed, it created two other jobs. Bloody interesting study.

            The world has, is now and will always change. I find the convienience of self serve aisles, cash machines, online banking etc etc brilliant – but I also find supporting local businesses and the continued rise of artisan style businesses – butchers, fish shops, local boutique breweries, etc etc – wonderful – leads to a vibrant and sustainable community. The smart business owners know they have to evolve, and the unions must recognise that change, or die. The chart suggests to me that unions dont quite get it – yet.

            • KJT

              MUNZ gets it. The other unions who rolled over and got “modern” got fucked. Including the one I was in.

              We should have had a general strike when the ECA was first mooted.

              • Bob Stanforth

                Maybe, but others will pass judgement on whether MUNZ gets it or not. There is a role for unions, but that role has and will continue to change.

                For me, the interesting bit about all of this is the ownership of POAL. With an overtly left wing mayor, and a strong union, this has trouble writ large 🙂

                • Colonial Viper

                  Yeah lots of trouble if senior port hierarchy decides to forget about world class collaborative management approaches.

                • KJT

                  The role of Unions hasn’t changed. Neither has the attacks on them.

                  The cowed and acquiescent (new age) Unions of the last three decades have achieved exactly nothing.
                  Not helped by the draconian laws which have removed the right to withdraw labour except in very limited circumstances. Similar limitations on employers rights to withdraw capital are, of course, Unthinkable!

                  As Warren Buffet said. “there is a class war, and my class, the rich class, are winning”.

              • Mike

                Yep couldn’t agree more. The modern unions seem to be dominated by self interest rather than looking after the interests of members. The unions should have brought the entire country to a standstill to prevent the ECA and it’s other corresponding changes to employment laws from being enacted.

            • Colonial Viper

              The Gartner study showed that for every job that the ‘web killed, it created two other jobs. Bloody interesting study.

              Ah yes Gartner BULLSHIT.
              Unless you are talking about two jobs created in China of course, for every American job destroyed. Because if what you say is true, the tens of thousands of jobs which will be lost with the recently announced closures of Sears and KMart stores in the US will bounce back rather quickly and easily.
              Of course, they won’t, will they.
              Did you also notice all the Gartner BS on how tech startups and web stores were going to be so scalable that they were all going to the moon in a raft of new billion dollar companies? That was just before the tech crash when 94% of online firms went to zero; the NASDAQ has never recovered to the highs of early 2000.
              Come now, you and I aren’t so gullible as to believe more of this shit from the same crew, are we?
              PS I’ll tell you where I draw the line, in fact I already told you. Although you raise a good point. Remember – foreign capitalists always assume that once they can take a dollar from your community they can take a grand, and will always try and do so.

    • Mehere 8.2

      Oh my giddy aunt, you have to wait 5-10 minutes to be served when it’s very busy in the supermarket?!?

      And then there’s the interminable wait until tomorrow to purchase an item that’s out of stock??

      My god, the humanity. That’s atrocious, the government must do something about this now!!

      Legislation must be introduced to ensure every supermarket has enough staff to ensure waiting times are kept to a 1 minute maximum! And supermarkets must carry enough stock to guarantee that every shopper is able to buy every item on their shopping list without undue delay! Particularly Chardonnay!!

      Ha ha, I’m sorry, but your comment reminds me very much of this


      • Colonial Viper 8.2.1

        Hmmm. Why should I be inconvenienced by being delayed in my weekday activities to assist the profitability of a large corporate?

        Your take on this seems to be that its OK for corporates to inconvenience people if they can make profit out of doing so.

        Is that your point?

        By the way, the Government shouldn’t legislate for higher performance from supermarket queues. It should just start KiwiMart – an SOE focussing on delivering best value high quality food produce to NZers in a modern, efficient and convenient way.

  9. QoT 9

    But Bill, if the top 1% don’t own everything, how will the rest of us pathetic slackers be incentivised to work harder and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps?

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      For the 1% to be incentivised to work harder and to create more wealth, they must be higher paid, receive large bonuses and have less taxes.

      For everyone else to be incentivised to work harder and be more productive, they must be more lowly paid, have working conditions stripped away and be burdened with more costs.

      See how it works? 😛

      Anyways…its the top 0.1% who are the real problem in modern society IMO. The rest of the top 10% are just well paid sheeple who are next in line to be slaughtered after they’ve finished helping out with impoverishing the middle classes.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1

        The rest of the 10% are the middle classes and the people that they’re helping to impoverish for their masters are the other 90%.

  10. Jenny 10

    As Winston Churchill once said, “Truth is the first casualty of war.”

    It is quite possible that Rich’s attack is not an isolated event, but heralds (no pun intended) the beginning of a general onslaught in a wider war on unions.

    We are the 99%

  11. Tigger 11

    Look at Rich’s bosses. Coca Cola. Nestlé. Palmolive. It’s like a who’s who of anti-union companies. Clearly she’s been ordered to put the boot in.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    Irish, the graph fails because it cherry-picks the variables. Why only include the incomes of the top 1%? I suspect that if other incomes had been included they would have shown similar increases, since it coincides with a period of growth like the world has never seen.

    • IrishBill 12.1

      The graph marks the proportion of total wealth in the hands of the 1%. Not their incomes.

      • tsmithfield 12.1.1

        Fair enough.

        But why arbitrarily draw the line at the top 1%. I suspect there would be a similar trend for the top 10%. That being the case, the watersiders would probably fall into that group, as I understand they earn 90k plus pa. But that would be rather inconvenient for your argument I suspect.

        IrishBill: I didn’t make the graph, the Guardian did. Now take a week off for implying I engage in sophistry.

        • RedLogix

          That being the case, the watersiders would probably fall into that group, as I understand they earn 90k plus pa

          I wish you’d quit repeating that without qualification. I’m not sure of their award details (maybe it’s been outlined elsewhere?)… but I’m fairly sure that’s not their base rate. They’d likely have to work some considerable overtime and night shifts to get that kind of money.

          Besides I’ve no problem at all with skilled workers, undertaking job that can be very dangerous if you get it wrong, and working long hours getting that kind of money. I know for example that Kiwirail locomotive engineers can easily earn substantially more. In my view it’s perfectly fair pay for the job.

          The only reason why 90k feels like good money is because most jobs are so miserably paid these days, having fallen well behind inflation and productivity gains for several decades now.

          • IrishBill

            This is just TSmithfield engaging in the politics of envy. Like other right wingers he doesn’t think people deserve to better their situations through collective effort.

          • Tangled up in blue

            Besides I’ve no problem at all with skilled workers, undertaking job that can be very dangerous if you get it wrong, and working long hours getting that kind of money

            No problem? So these workers on 90k plus do receive first world terms and conditions?

            • RedLogix

              And I’ve no problem with them collectively negotiating to keep them that way either. What problem do you have with workers doing better for themselves?

              • Tangled up in blue

                I have no problem with workers collectively negotiating or doing better for themselves.

                I’m just pointing out that IF Cactus Kate’s information about pay and conditions is right; then IMO, strike action during the xmas period seems a bit extreme.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Its all to do with commercial leverage. Why strike at a time you have less commercial leverage? Doesn’t make capitalistic sense.
                  Just like the CMP meatworks lock out. They locked the workers out during low season. That was to the capitalistic advantage of the employers – who of course wouldn’t want to lock their staff out during peak season, would they.
                  Works both ways, its a free market after all.

                  • Tangled up in blue

                    Yep that’s all true.

                    Though I would argue that public perception of Unions are an important consideration to their effectiveness. When you’re earning as much as many doctors, lawyers, pilots etc (even if you’re doing the hard yards) then it can come across as the old negative stereotype ie, ‘greedy unions stuffing up my holiday’.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      More and more, the holidays they are stuffing up are those of the top quintile of this country.
                      My guess is that its going to happen less, not more.
                      Not saying that perception management is not important though…the right wing do better at that then the left.

                    • KJT

                      Why should Lawyers earn more than Wharfies anyway. At least Wharfies are doing something usefull.

                      We have more practicing Lawyers per capita than anywhere else but the USA.

                • Mike

                  Maybe they have high wages because they have a strong union who is prepared to strike over christmas?

            • newsense

              There has been a lot made of this 90k figure.

              I thought someone said before this includes a lot of overtime and long shifts. It is a red herring figure. It isn’t for a 40 hour week in an office in front of a computer!

              What’s the CEO on?

              • Draco T Bastard

                A hell of a lot more than $90k.

              • KJT

                Grocery sellers collaborating to keep food prices some of the highest in the world, relative to wages, are permanently damaging the economy.

                Don’t normally have that much time for wharfies, but low productivity in Auckland has as much to do with management being in permanent attack mode as anything else.

                And. Noticeably. Too many managers who do not communicate with each other. Let alone with customers.

                It was management who chose to change conditions at this time of the year after the workforce thought the contract was already settled.

                Their work rates improved markedly, (from 18 to 28, or better, per hour crane rate) in the brief period when they thought the new management might be better than the old one.

                To get 90k they have to work many double, split shifts and overtime. It is not that their wages are excessively high, it is that many NZ skilled workers wages are excessively low.

                Anyone who thinks a wharfie has an unskilled job has never tried to drive a portainer crane.

                Among other things, POAL want the advantages of a casual on call work force without having to pay for it. Not many people would want to be on 8 hours call 365 days of the year with only a certain number of hours guaranteed and no pay for being available. In Tauranga and Nelson casuals are free to take other work without penalty.

                Mearsk love Union busting.
                In any case no shipping line will permanently change a major port call without months of talking to shippers and ports.

                All this running around to please Mearsk is not in NZ’s best interest anyway. Why should our ports and workers subsidise Mearsk. I heard a rumour that Lyttelton were so desperate, to get the Mearsk calls off Timaru, that they are making a loss on Mearsk.

                Tauranga already had the Mearsk call long before the strike was called. So the only way it could have been caused by the strike is if POAL gave them advance warning.

                • Colonial Viper

                  This country is run by weak short sighted, short term managers. Many of whom have very limited people (and other practical) skills.
                  Worker co-ops are the way ahead.

  13. Adam 13

    Getting back to the port, Gibson comes from Maersk, must have known the contract was moving, but precipitates industrial trouble so he can blame the unions. It’s a credible theory.
    An Auckland firm moving their business to Tauranga makes sense. From the website:

    MetroPort’s strategic location in the heart of Auckland’s industrial belt has proved popular with shippers and road carriers. Proximity, ease of access and fast turnaround are the key features.
    Shipping lines contracted to use MetroPort Auckland call at the Port of Tauranga where import cargo destined for Auckland is offloaded at the Tauranga Container Terminal. Cargo is then railed to MetroPort Auckland before distribution to its final destination. The same process happens in reverse for Auckland sourced export cargo. It is aggregated at MetroPort Auckland, railed to Tauranga and loaded on to the vessel.

    Tauranga has cash and is investing in other logistics businesses. It also has extensive land holdings that provide revenue. Bit like Auckland Airport – it’s a parking lot and shopping mall, with a transport business on the side.
    Ports of Auckland had its “spare” land taken away, and its shareholders keep clawing out dividends. It has a crappy rail link because of historical under-investment. That’s not an argument for privatisation, but for better management.
    It’s also a different shape. You can move around the wharf at Tauranga a lot easier than at Auckland, which is essentially one huge long hazardous working area between the fence and the water. That’s why laying off shuttle operators and putting the job out to contact was such a big deal – it’s a safety issue. And paying people more to leave the collective is just deliberately provocative.

  14. “…That being the case, the watersiders would probably fall into that group, as I understand they earn 90k plus pa…”


    It’s ok for middle class voters to be aspirationist millionaires, and vote for Right Wing governments that cut taxes for the top 10%…

    But it’s NOT ok to be an aspirationist worker who wants better pay and/or conditions?

    I swear, there’s something very strange in our water supply…

  15. By the way, Irishbill – that Guardian graph seems strangely similar to this, from the New York Times;


    Funny… how the dates around late ’70s/early ’80s seem to be a common factor…

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