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Robertson / Labour on the future of work

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, January 18th, 2016 - 60 comments
Categories: capitalism, employment, human rights, thinktank, workers' rights - Tags: ,

A good summary in The Herald yesterday:

Expect radical changes to economic policy, says Robertson

Grant Robertson says New Zealanders can expect a radical shift in the Labour Party’s economic policy ahead of the 2017 election as his party looks to prepare workers for huge changes in the labour market in coming decades.

“If we look ahead two decades, there will be enormous change,” he told the Herald from Paris. “Up to half of the jobs in the economy today won’t be there.”

Mr Robertson said addressing these changes would mean a radical change of direction for his party. “I do think there will be some big shifts because that reflects the magnitude of the change that is happening,” he said.

One of the ideas he has been discussing in Paris is Denmark’s “flexisecurity” model. The Danish system has three parts. It has flexible rules for hiring and firing workers, to make it easier to cut staff in downturns and easier to hire new staff when an economy rebounds. It has a generous unemployment benefit of up to 90 per cent for low-paid workers. And it has an “active labour market” policy, which means unemployed are helped into work, given guidance or re-trained.

Mr Robertson said New Zealand already had a flexible labour market, but it needed to be balanced with greater security and income support.

“I expect big changes in the education and training system to be one of the things that comes out of the commission,” the Labour MP said. …

Well worth reading the whole piece in The Herald. It’s a good thing that one of the major parties is thinking seriously about the future…

60 comments on “Robertson / Labour on the future of work ”

  1. Paul 1

    ‘Expect radical changes to economic policy, says Robertson’

    I hope that this means a rejection of neo-liberalism.
    Not just more tinkering with the dangerous beliefs of Ayn Rand.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Yep, to get the changes needed we need to shift from the present failed financial system to a sovereign monetary system. Get rid of the interest bearing private money creation that has the poor paying the rich to be rich. Thing is, Labour used to understand that.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        it’s Grant Robertson, the last thing the man supports is anything which will put at risk his GR 2020 campaign.

        Hence all the “radical” reforms he is talking about will equate to fuck all when they are finally announced. Hot air, panel talkfests, and white papers.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          Well, I’m certainly not holding my breath. Labour have been hard capitalists for the last thirty years. It’s their reforms from the 1980s that are dragging us down and I don’t really see them doing what’s needed to start rebuilding NZ.

  2. Ad 2

    Not sure what the point of what he’s saying.

    He’s been at it for over a year.

    Isn’t it time, in policy terms, to shit or get off the pot?

    • Paul 2.1

      I hope ( yet doubt) he’ll outline some policies like this.

      Here are Corbyn’s key policies.

      Renationalise railways to bring down fares. Franchises would be managed locally;
      Locally owned energy suppliers, emulating the German model;
      Integration of health and social care;
      Creation of a lifelong education service that would help retrain and reskill workers;
      Universal childcare;
      Repeal the Tory Trade Union Act;
      Fixed pay ratios for companies to stop top management earning many multiples more than lowest paid workers;
      Restriction on dividend payments for firms that don’t pay the living wage.

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/16/jeremy-corbyn-to-confront-big-business-over-living-wage
      http://uk.businessinsider.com/jeremy-corbyns-policies-at-the-fabian-conference-2016-2016-1

    • Pat 2.2

      “The Future of Work Commission’s findings will be published in November.”

      so a year , more or less……I had the impression from a previous article there would be some detail released early this year…apparently not.

      • Ad 2.2.1

        It’s been his baby for the last two terms; he was talking about it well before the Cunliffe leadership contest.

        It’s not a media story, just an ideological burp that he’s pleased with the flavor.

        Labour have to seriously start the year better than this.
        Key’s speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce in two weeks will trump the annual Speech From The Throne because it will trump a massive series of developments and projects that are underway.

    • Lanthanide 2.3

      Apparently it was “always planned to be a 2 year project”, with the “first year to talk to New Zealanders and really understand the issues”. The first year is now complete.

      He promised that Labour would be unveiling all the new policies at the end of 2016.

      I’ll be surprised if there is any such significant policy unveiled that would suggest that the whole project couldn’t have been completed in 15-18 months instead of the 24 it will have taken them.

    • Colonial Viper 2.4

      Exactly. See my 1.1.1

    • Descendant Of Sssmith 2.5

      I managed to survive the year of the manifesto followed by the year of the policy (2nd year got cancelled) without changing my disdain for Labour and it’s current worldview.

      No doubt I’ll survive this one.

      I can’t imagine radical will involve:

      1. The right to strike
      2. Increases in benefit rates
      3. Removal of youth rates that adults get
      4. An 8 hour working day or less
      5. General wage orders
      6. A substantial increase in the minimum wage
      7. Reversal of tax cuts and esp the increase in GST
      8. Fining Talleys as a matter of principle and giving the money to their long suffering workers
      9. Finding out who all those people were who “invested” in South Canterbury Finance in the four or so weeks before the bailout when it was well known it was a dead duck – presumably knowing that interest was going to be paid

  3. b waghorn 3

    I’m willing to wait patiently ,but it better be bloody good when it gets or else!!
    Ie make it easy for people that pick up casual work to switch on and off the benefit easily , if you treat people like crooks they’ll behave that way.
    Don’t penilize couples for living in the same house.
    Don’t forget small town nz , not many votes I know but there are actual people living out here.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    “Up to half of the jobs in the economy today won’t be there.”

    This is actually wrong because it continues the belief that there will still be more work to fill in the work lost. This is incorrect. What we’ll see is a decrease in available work and so, in two decades, we’ll be looking at 50% unemployment. The best thing to do with that sort of work reduction is to shift people into R&D.

    Mr Robertson said New Zealand already had a flexible labour market, but it needed to be balanced with greater security and income support.

    Actually, due to the attacks by both Labour and National on our education system over the last few decades our labour market has become less flexible. If people can’t get the education to move out of a dead end job then they’re pretty much stuck in that dead end job and when that dead end job goes away they’re simply stuck on the unemployment benefit.

    To get a flexible labour market that ensures security we need a UBI to ensure that no one lives in poverty and a free education so that, if people can’t get a job, they can walk into education.

    Technically, there shouldn’t be any unemployed. People should either be in work or in training (and that latter is either doing the learning or doing the teaching).

  5. Ovid 5

    There’s a lot of thinking going on about this. President Obama mentioned it in his state of the union. This video is a good explainer.

    Just look at the advent of self-driving vehicles – how many people are employed in transport and logistics? If a truck can drive itself safer than a human-being, with only a need to refuel and recharge – working say 20 hours out of 24 rather than 8 – that would be a lot of jobs lost.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      Hence why trucking is likely to be one of the real first uses of self-driving vehicles. The industry is there and willing to pay the price for the vehicles / software and have significant gains to be made. The routes are well-known and (in the US) often driving through sparsely populated areas so road conditions should be fairly unchanging.

      It’s probably not really the lack of wages that will be the main benefit, but the increase in utilisation. If you can cut your fleet by 25-33%, and each vehicle is costing you $200,000, then that’s a very big saving.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        It’s probably not really the lack of wages that will be the main benefit, but the increase in utilisation. If you can cut your fleet by 25-33%, and each vehicle is costing you $200,000, then that’s a very big saving.

        Now just think if we used that logic on privately owned vehicles. It would quickly become apparent that owning a vehicle is purely uneconomic. The problem is that we only look at these things from an individual perspective which brings about uneconomic results.

        • The thing mass automation is making increasingly clear actually is that the problem is the assumption of jobs in the first place.

          We are already to the point in automation where we should have dramatically cut working hours in order to spread available work among the labour market, however, the business community has moved much of that work to marketing, and lobbied the rest of the labour market into unemployment and underemployment.

          We would do much better if we abandoned the fantasy that we can get everyone into paid work, and instead acknowledged a basic income as a right and as part of a healthy modern society, allowing people to expand into R&D, innovation, and the areas currently recognised as “unpaid work” in various forms.

      • greywarshark 5.1.2

        Gosh I remember driving through Waouru in the North Island and down from Ashburton in the south and thinking what lovely straight roads, or just slightly curved.

        I can’t see safety from self driving trucks on most of our roads. I think there would be more cyclists drawn into the vacuum at the sides, and even if they had some cow catcher thing that meant they weren’t run over, it would be extremely frightening that there was a machine driving a machine, and being programmed by someone who had trained his mind to the extent that he thought like the machine he worked on. Would they pull off the road where provided and let cars behind pass? The professional truck drivers do this. (I don’t notice the old double toot of thanks now though as cars stream by the behemoth. Have the prissy driver controls thought up by the PTB banned such communicating toots?)

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2.1

          I can’t see safety from self driving trucks on most of our roads.

          I can. Or this.

          The problem with self-drive vehicles is still the humans. What we need to do is get the human drivers off of the road. And once we do that trains and buses become obviously more economical than cars and trucks anyway.

      • Wainwright 5.1.3

        Putting all that freight on trains would be far too logical and cost-effective.

  6. Wairua 6

    Sexism in Silicon Valley !

    http://elephantinthevalley.com/

  7. Katipo 7

    From Wikipedia….
    In sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare as well as being a member of a proletariat class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labour to live. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of lack of job security, in other words intermittent employment or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence. The emergence of this class has been ascribed to the entrenchment of neoliberal capitalism…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precariat

    Guy Standing has written on the subject and was interviewed on RNZ earlier this year…
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/sunday/audio/20168199/guy-standing-the-precariat-charter

  8. Michael 8

    From what I’ve seen of the “Future of Work”, the only “radical” bits are those that create even more risk and insecurity for workers. Capitalists OTOH, and the politicians who serve their interests, are well protected by any adversity in the Brave New World. Labour will have to do much better if it really wants to become a popular, and legitimate, democratic government again (I’m unsure whether it does want to attain this end; the easy way seems to be to say and do nothing, let a few fickle middle voters decide they’re sick of John Key, and decide to tick the box next to the B team at the next election).

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Capitalists OTOH, and the politicians who serve their interests, are well protected by any adversity in the Brave New World.

      QFT

    • Olwyn 8.2

      From what I’ve seen of the “Future of Work”, the only “radical” bits are those that create even more risk and insecurity for workers.

      I see potential in the flexisecurity idea, but only if the deal includes the infrastructure to make it work as claimed. Labour cannot afford to mess their voters around anymore. What is needed is real commitment to making moves that actually make people’s lives more secure. There has to be more to it than a PR pitch and the repetition of a catchy word.

  9. tory 9

    what i want to know where is the john key plan what has john key been doing the last 8 years he is the pm he should be leading john key has to deliver the brighter future he has promised

  10. acrophobic 10

    It’s no wonder so few people take Labour seriously.

    First they decide they need to study the future of work, and so they give it a big name, ‘commission’, just to make it sound important.

    Then they get Robertson, who is a life-long trougher with zero practical experience of actual work, to conduct said study. Robertson wouldn’t now what work is if it jumped up and bit him on the arse.

    Is Labour really that devoid of ideas that this is the best they can do?

    • AmaKiwi 10.1

      “Is Labour really that devoid of ideas that this is the best they can do?”

      They are devoid of serious thinkers on the ABC front benches.

      If the clowns running their caucus were running a business, the competition would swamp them. Oh, I forgot. That’s what’s been happening.

    • Incognito 10.2

      If I can execute any little commission for you [Dickens, 1853] and since you seem to struggle with the English language please let me aid you by pointing out that the noun “commission” has multiple meanings, one of which is:

      An order to undertake a particular task or duty; (now freq.) a request, instruction, or order to produce a particular (esp. artistic, musical, or literary work) work, now esp. in return for payment. Also: the task or duty itself.

      [OED]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.3

      …character assassination is a common ploy of those with no other way to debate.

      Perhaps the Gosman Rule needs a name change.

    • Colonial Viper 10.4

      Dude, it’s already all over for Labour. The thing is, it means that National is basically winning by default, not by performance.

  11. Craig H 11

    Gee, a bit harsh on Labour there… Policy is the purview of the Labour Policy Council based on remits provided from local branches, LECs etc via Regional and National Conferences.

    After the last election, Labour effectively started again, so lots of policies were put forward at the conferences, a new Labour Policy Council was elected recently, and meanwhile the Future of Work Commission is chugging along accumulating data, ideas etc.

    Now that the Labour Policy Council has been elected, policy is being shaped, but any major policy around the Future of Work Commission will be months away from being announced, because any suggested policies have to be proposed, tweaked and agreed before they become official Labour policy.

    This confuses the MSM because they don’t get it at all, but the regulars here at the Standard are smarter than that, so I’m confident that now I’ve explained the democratic process behind Labour policy, people here will understand that it is still a work in progress, hence why nothing has been announced.

    • AmaKiwi 11.1

      @ Craig H
      Thank you for that concise explanation of why Labour is a dismal failure.

      1. NZ is an elected dictatorship. Governments ignore their election promises and do whatever they want. We all know pre-election “policies” are b.s. Since we have no control over what our government does, our elections are mere personality contests.

      2. The Labour caucus is unshakable in it opposition to democracy. The caucus ignores the general population in the service of some higher wisdom the caucus alone possess (i.e., how can they stay in control of their sinking ship?)

      3. If you want a Labour party based on policies, go into the neighborhoods and organize people to get what they want. It’s radical. It’s called democracy. Labour MPs sneeringly call it populism, implying it is a dangerous form of collective insanity.

      Having firsthand experience of Labour platform policy writing, I can assure you it is nothing more than a way to keep some members occupied between elections.

    • Colonial Viper 11.2

      Craig H – Labour’s policy development model is a 19th century, union procedure inspired molasses.

      It is the equivalent of the British Red Coats reloading, aiming and firing in ordered ranks, even as the world has moved to an age of fast, flexible special operations.

      They are completely outclassed and out of date.

      • Craig H 11.2.1

        On the fly policy is a terrible idea, and is one of our leading criticisms of the current government. Why would Labour operate in the same manner? If we want considered, high quality policy from volunteers, then it will take time. Given the result of the last election, everything is on the table, so there is a lot of policy to review.

        Also, the next election is still ages away, so there’s little point coming out with great stuff, only for it to forgotten or co-opted.

        The current model was put in place by the members to bring democracy back to Labour policy, and to try to avoid a repeat of Rogernomics.

        • Tautuhi 11.2.1.1

          NZ has suffered from seat of the pants policy since the madman Muldoon in the 1970’s when he robbed the Superannuation Fund to finance his hair brained Think Big Projects.

          NZ has been an economic basket case ever since Think Big and Rogernomics, these latest clowns are heading quickly us towards a Banana Republic?

  12. millsy 12

    You can have all the training in the world, but it is pointless if there aren’t any jobs at the end of it.

    Better off giving people a fighting chance by giving more assistance to people who want to start their own business.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      You can have all the training in the world, but it is pointless if there aren’t any jobs at the end of it.

      And at its heart, Labour endorses the neoliberal model, so while it will fund training to some extent, it will not create jobs. That is left to “the market.”

  13. tory 13

    are you asleep at the wheel automation is happening know look at local mc donalds self help stations have arrived lawyer account and middle management jobs are going to be hammered as well you hate labour so much well let see the john key solution where is it they have had 8 years

  14. Nz has a flexible job market that was never designed to help workers, just the bosses.

  15. Tautuhi 15

    National have no solutions in creating economic growth or work opportunities, their only solutions are Asset Sales and Offshore Borrowing?

    Lucky we had the Christchurch Earthquake and Asian House Buying in Auckland?

  16. Tautuhi 16

    One must create the environment for economic growth to enable jobs to be created, our workforce can not compete with $1.00 a day slave labour in Asian economies?

    Many with University degrees and many years work experience can only find casual jobs on minimum wages in NZ no wonder our young people migrate overseas for employment opportunities.

    We have had useless business managers in NZ and hopeless Government in NZ over the past 30-40 years who have decimated the economy and divested very profitable State Assets built up by taxpayers money over the past 175 years?

    The Neoliberal Experiment has failed horribly in NZ.

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