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Sometimes in our quest for what is perfect we forget what has been achieved

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, October 3rd, 2022 - 36 comments
Categories: labour, political parties, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

I did a quick summary of worker’s rights enacted under Labour since 2017, with a help from the Greens and reluctant support (and opposition) from NZ First, who held up a lot of these:

  • 10 days sick leave (increased by 5 days)
  • 26 weeks paid parental leave
  • Restored meal and rest breaks
  • Strengthened collective bargaining
  • Extended protections for vulnerable workers to include security
  • Workers in “triangular” relationships can challenge both bosses.
  • Limited 90 day trials to small workplaces
  • Matariki holiday
  • Bereavement leave now includes miscarriage (Greens)
  • Domestic violence leave (Greens)
  • Screen workers restored rights to collectively bargain
  • Minimum wage increased from $15.75 to $21.20 per hour since 2018
  • Living Wage applies to contract workers in government departments
  • Equal Pay Amendment Act passed
  • Historic pay equity settlements – many more underway.
  • Fair Pay Agreements making their way through parliament.

Labour sets the agenda for NZ, (and yes it could be more perfect with criticism from our own because we want them to go further, faster), but ignore the opposition who inevitably return to their own pathetic programme of tax cuts, 90 day trials, attacking unions etc.

We need to take stock and while of course there is more to do, and I for one will continue to push Labour on this, the election of a National/ACT government could see us go backwards pretty quickly.

36 comments on “Sometimes in our quest for what is perfect we forget what has been achieved ”

  1. weka 1

    Nice one Darien!

  2. Stuart Munro 2

    The core Labour issue remains economic justice.

    No laundry list of small positives suffices to reset the injustices Labour brought in with Rogergnomics. The recent rises in cost of living have already eroded most of the above to the point of meaninglessness.

    Housing remains out of reach of the working poor, we still have mass low-wage immigration in spite of some promising but now broken promises around the median wage.

    Things are a little better than they would have been under National – but Savage would not speak to any of you.

    The people's flag is bloody red, as Wattie's sauce on cheap white bread.

    • lprent 2.1

      The problem is that Rogernomics was effectively ended by Labour in 1988 when Roger Douglas was dumped as Finance Minister – roughly 32 years ago.

      There was a lot of in-fighting about it inside Labour in the 1990s, but it certainly wasn't resumed in the Labour-led government that came to power in 1999 – ie 23 years ago.

      When I'm looking at your points you choose to raise about Rogernomics, I simply suspect you don't know what you're talking about. Because you do seem to be pulling everything out of your arse for your specific points.

      For instance, what in the hell do housing prices have to do with it? The 1984-1990 government didn't do much change in housing policy. If anything, it moved closer to the principles Savage postulated and for much the same reasons. There had been a tight finance system before 1984, and the numbers of state houses had been diminished by sales.

      The changes to housing policy were mainly done by the National governments in the announcements of the the 1991 budget (for instance see this thesis from 1999).

      I don't have any issues looking at the inequities created with the 1984-1990 government, however I think that attributing National party housing policies as being their fault is just you being an idiot myth-maker and a damn fool.

      • Stuart Munro 2.1.1

        Those who do not own their own dwelling are ruthlessly impoverished by those that possess a surplus. Labour's responsibility to the working people is to prevent such systematic wrongs developing.

        Working people generally entrust matters of policy to those that claim expertise. The kindest interpretation of policy over the period concerned is that those involved did not know what they were doing.

        The truth is more that those that knew, did not care.

        (your link seems to be down, btw)

        • lprent

          Fixed the link.

          Labour’s responsibility to the working people is to prevent such systematic wrongs developing.

          A somewhat disingenuous answer.

          In effect, what you appear to be arguing (based on housing) is that Labour is responsible for National/Act's policies and for everyone who voted for a National/Act government.

          Surely you can see how damn stupid that idea is.

          Working people generally entrust matters of policy to those that claim expertise.

          Of course. That is the basis of a representative democratic system. That hardly divorces you or any other voter from the responsibility of whom they vote for and implicitly the bundle of policies that they vote for.

          However have you considered that the majority of voters have also been known to vote for governments other than a Labour led one.

          Now you're sounding like you'd wish for democracy to be be dumped in favour of a technocratic dictatorship. Basically you appear to be arguing in support for the effective basis for all autocratic governments from fascism, national socialism, and the party states like the USSR or the CCP. ie That the party knows all and will fix things so that the voters will be happy (or else there is a alternative at gulag).

          Working people have been known to vote for National/Act. The number of people who vote for a National-led government, who are working and therefore repeatably voted for their slant of 18 years of housing policies is probably well over 80%.

          Much the same as the percentage of working people who vote for Labour-led governments and who have voted for a different slant on housing policies.

      • Descendant Of Smith 2.1.2

        Depends I guess as to whether you see lowering taxes for high earners and regressively taxing workers through GST plus user pays plus adding profit and fake competition to electricity markets – mainly paid for by the working class as a means of increasing the wealth of the well off and allowing them to build up capital and buy houses competing against each other to drive up house prices as part of housing policy.

        Making the rich richer and the working class poorer can only lead to capital ownership of housing by the well off. It is what happened the world over post industrial revolution.

        That's without all the other direct incentives such as claiming interest, offsetting against other income, removing stamp duty. Certainly no intention to raise all boats on the incoming tide.

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          On the plus side, I've just heard an 'expert' (Dr Michael Rehm), being interviewed on RNZ's 'The Panel', suggest that NZ house prices/values could fall by up to 70%, although I’ve probably misinterpreted.

          https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/thepanel/audio/2018861138/the-panel-with-dr-claire-robinson-and-mark-knoff-thomas [@1:50 minutes]

          Since the only (humble) home I've owned was built in the 50's, and I''ve lived there over half my life, it really doesn't matter (to me) if its value plummets. I do feel for anyone who has bought their home in the last 4 years or so, particularly young families. Still, ladders and snakes.

          NZ housing: snakes and ladders [27 August 2018]
          New Zealand and Australia have much in common, including high property prices.

          Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

        • lprent

          I wasn't really arguing any of that.

          I was pointing out (with a sharp stick) that the 3rd Labour government wasn't responsible for changing the housing policy that Stuart was pointing to.

          The inequities probably helped to bubble the high-end property values.

          However a more direct cause for most housing prices rises can be easily found in the long-term simply not building sufficient residential housing since the 1980s in NZin line with the increase in population.

          That in turn pushes the massive increase in the input prices of building materials which increases the cost of building. Tracking that in NZ is interesting because it is classic demonstration about how a boom-bust cycle forces manufacturer consolidation and monopolistic pricing. It is also a clear case of market failure in a area of infrastructure (because that is what housing is to an economy) .

          What National failed and still fails to understand is that the market is a failure at maintaining a viable building industry and at providing the mix of housing that NZ needs.

          State housing for a large chunk of the last 90 years provided the sustainable backbone of the local building industry. It provided a large customer who pushed down building costs, allowed some certainty for the builders and smaller manufacturers, and kept the price of overall housing down.

          • Descendant Of Smith

            In the same way that government work with local plumbers, electricians, etc created consistent cash flow which allowed local firms in small towns to thrive and also created circulation of money.

            The lowest cost contracting model exacerbated by Steven Joyce's centralised contracting everything under the sun model means much of that work went to outside firms rather than local. Some towns now have no plumbers, carpet layers etc and have to pay a fortune to get things done – particularly if it is more than a one day job with travel and accommodation costs. It got so bad that MOE were having trouble getting locals to repair buildings built by out of town firms. The locals just told them to get the wankers from Auckland who built it to come and fix it.

            It always surprised me that local businessmen were so vocal in their support of mainly the national governments who did this. Once locals stopped getting the work they soon realised the direct/indirect impact – many are no longer around. That coupled with the withdrawl of services to call centres, etc cost many in the private sector their livelihoods.

            Ironically technology means many jobs can be done from anywhere and there is great potential to have people working from rural areas and small towns again but this is getting stifled across both private and public sectors by an inability of management (especially the management as a profession type managers who just go from one job to another to adjust and change.

            NZ productivity could be so much higher with just an acceptance that you don't need centralised groups of people sitting in Auckland or Wellington or Christchurch.

    • How has 5 sick days turned to 10 now meaningless? Plus the other permanent gains.

      Lack of facts Stuart, and too much hyperbole.

      Don't forget "The Contracts Act". That really robbed workers of all of the above protections and literally lowered wages and contract payments in a rush to the lowest bid!! That was National and Bill Birch. Look up your history.

      • Stuart Munro 2.2.1

        Sick days don't house the victims of neoliberalism.

        Where is the rising tide that was going to lift all boats? The only one in the offing seems to be the one that will inundate low-lying land areas.

        Economic justice remains the core issue upon which Labour will judged by those that used to be their natural supporters.

        • Stuart, that is your invention. Nowhere were promises made to "Lift all boats"

          The understanding was they would (in spite of setbacks) work towards improving lives. That doesn't mean all the “anti bods will lie down and accept changes" No way, they gathered their big money (Act) and put their war chest to adding to the dis information battle. As they ever have. If you think there is no difference in direction just read Act Policy. It is alarming, as National don't seem to have much…so…. Are they Act in drag?
          That would be a huge change for the worse.

          • Stuart Munro

            The premise underwriting Rogergnomics was some kind of mystical market fairies producing more growth that somehow relieved the Left of responsibility for removing the protections that had made NZ workers reasonably well off by global standards – the rising tide is merely a concise rendering of those fictions.

            Absent those fictions, and an ostensible good faith belief in them, Roger's colleagues, and those that failed to run them out of the party, are simple sell-outs.

            The prevailing pattern of the current party – pretty Blair or Starmerite, suggests that they still largely embrace these damaging and ineffectual economic fictions. Would that it were not so.

            But Blair-or-Starmerites don’t deserve either respect or support.

          • Stuart Munro

            National don't seem to have much…so…. Are they Act in drag?

            I don't think so. National (once upon a time, in decades far far away) actually had a reasonably coherent set of beliefs or values, which they had not entirely sold out to foreign banks and dodgy ethnic funders. The wholesale wrecking of critical public services and infrastructure we associate with contemporary National would have been resisted, and the likes of Marilyn Waring demonstrated an intellectual and moral heft now entirely absent from the party.

            ACT seems to be the current vehicle of the logrolling far right conspiracy – getting a lot more funding and media life support than it had as the member for the rotten borough of Epsom. Though it is clearly more coherent than National, fascism and Trumpism are on the outer with our major political influencer nations at present, and their policies (courtesy of a bunch of windfall MPs with no more heft than Sharma) are likely to annoy median voters. Labour can defeat them in detail if they have the opportunity to address them individually.

      • 1991 Employment Contracts Act managed to divide and conquer our workforce.

        Market driven, the introduced 'business model' is not suited to our public health system. Our hospitals became referred to as silo's, our charge nurses became Init Managers and wore a corporate uniform, our documentation included logging data as units of output of staff ratio per patient, who were to be called a consumer of health service rather than a patient. Health was to be run as a business. PM Bulger, MP English MP Shipley introduced the part payment scheme for hospital services in 1993. Cash registers were placed in ED and wards, in an attempt to get people requiring care to part pay, ie hospital in-patient could expect a bill for $500. There was an outcry and backlash. Within National had to U-turn this attempt to privatise patient care. However public hospital services like Laundry, kitchen/food cleaners and maintenance became sub contracted.(essentially privatised) Extra layers of administrators were employed and paid huge salaries.Nurses and allied staff were not replaced, it took nurses union years to get back to back a national collective for members. Wages and conditions for qualified staff has fallen behind. That 1991Emplyments Contact Act was Nationals doings, determined to break the unions with individual contracts and job security gone with introduction of casual contracts. Neo-liberal models are not good for social welfare nor Primary Health initiatives suited to promote health..

      • Market driven, the introduced 'business model' is not suited to our public health system. Our hospitals became referred to as silo's, our charge nurses became Init Managers and wore a corporate uniform, our documentation included logging data as units of output of staff ratio per patient, who were to be called a consumer of health service rather than a patient. Health was to be run as a business. PM Bulger, MP English MP Shipley introduced the part payment scheme for hospital services in 1993. Cash registers were placed in ED and wards, in an attempt to get people requiring care to part pay, ie hospital in-patient could expect a bill for $500. There was an outcry and backlash. Within National had to U-turn this attempt to privatise patient care. However public hospital services like Laundry, kitchen/food cleaners and maintenance became sub contracted.(essentially privatised) Extra layers of administrators were employed and paid huge salaries.Nurses and allied staff were not replaced, it took nurses union years to get back to back a national collective for members. Wages and conditions for qualified staff has fallen behind. That 1991Emplyments Contact Act was Nationals doings, determined to break the unions with individual contracts and job security gone with introduction of casual contracts. Neo-liberal models are not good for social welfare nor Primary Health initiatives suited to promote health.. 1991 Employment Contracts Act managed to divide and conquer our workforce.

    • Have to agree with you … neo-liberalism was started by Roger Douglas and Co who essentially stripped the heartland of NZ and gifted it to the bankers in the form of debt. It was continued by Shipley and Co, because it was the brave new market-led economy … and now we have a bunch of socialists who think private capital is theirs to control … until it runs out. But you are right I personally also will never forgive Rogernomics … it cost me my career. The people in the photo so happy about Labour remind me of Stalin's useful idiots. They need to understand how they are perceived by Ardern, Hipkins, Robertson and Co, as just useful idiots to be used on their march towards socialist globalism.

  3. observer 3

    Anyone who suggests "they're all pretty much the same" should read what is coming …


    That's not John Key throwing a bone to Rodney Hide, that's ACT pushing the agenda and Luxon pretending to "reluctantly" accept it.

    • Ad 3.1

      I get the point we could be grateful. Especially for sick leave, and Matariki.

      But on wages we are treading water against inflation.

      I'm not aware of a successful MECA, happy to be corrected.

      Union membership outside core public service is even weaker than Arderns 2017.

      Low-end income increases without low-end tax reform is a cruel joke.

      Good on the fighters like Darien who get us there. But the point of government is to leave the place better than you started.

      • Mac1 3.1.1

        "But on wages we are treading water against inflation." The rise in the minimum wage since 2017 is 34%; the cumulative rise in inflation is 20.83%.

        • Ad

          So far. Inflation continues to accelerate.

          Don't forget the extra 1.5% we're going to get charged every payday for this ACC unemployment scheme.

          • Mac1

            Yes, the rate has jumped. I put the figures into the debate because the original post from Darien Fenton was from 2017 onwards.

            I'd say that the government is aware of the inflation jump and will factor that into minimum wage assessments as I understand they are supposed.

            There is a report from the Salvation Army that will spark some debate and reaction on the state of society's wealth and distribution.

            My home area is not well off and has been so for the 25 years that I have monitored figures on the low wage economy.

            The achievements and ongoing issues both around housing, wages, poor upward mobility in job promotion, RSE worker treatment, seasonal employment are still there. This area has lower unemployment, below 3%, than the national but still low average of about 3.2%. Yet wages etc still are low.

            Let's honour the work and improvement that has been made and then work for more.

        • yes Thanks Mac1, good to know.

  4. Ad, Don't forget how much more secure workers will feel. smiley Very cheap insurance.
    Further if ACT/ Nat Policy to reverse all this and replace it with 90 day trials plus a two dollar tax cut Wow!!! People will be worse off.

  5. Darien Fenton 5

    As I said ; always more to do. That's why some of us keep on organising. And on the Social Insurance : please ; I tried to introduce a simple redundancy entitlements bill when I was an MP and Sue Moroney did so again. Both times National / Act voted it down. I can tell you what was proposed was minimal but you would have thought the world had frigging ended in proposing it. The Social Insurance proposal includes the things in my bill such as 4 weeks notice and 4 weeks pay paid for by the employer etc. but is a hell of a lot better for people who are laid off through no fault of their own and gives protection far beyond what the few workers who have redundancy entitlements in their collective agreements have.

    • weka 5.1

      it's hard not to see it as an intentional policy to save people from falling into the underclass (good), without doing anything substantial about the underclass and why it exists (terrible). It will create two welfare systems, one for the better off, and one for the poor bastards.

  6. Anker 6

    I am afraid that don’t count for much in my book

    i really think people are or feel no better off than they were.

    I would say Labour have tinkered around the edges and they have in many areas made things worse eg housing. Credit Susie recently reported NZders had seen the biggest increase in wealth in the world last year. So govt policies have made the wealthy much wealthier.

    they have grown govt bureaucracy and their wages significantly while doing f all for beneficiaries.

    labours identity politics have made NZ a far more decisive place.

    top released their tax policy on the weekend . It’s the sort of policy which I believe will re balance things nicely. It’s bold and I will be voting for it

    • roy cartland 6.1

      Yes, I never understood why Labour was so afraid to promise tax cuts all over the place, conveniently leaving out (or at least hardly mentioning) the tax rises on the very wealthy. How many of us really care what the extreme richies think, who would not vote Labour anyway?

      Both Gordon Campbell and NRT have interesting takes on tax today.

      • observer 6.1.1

        I don't know where you got your news, but Labour raising the top tax rate was all over where I get mine. They didn't leave it out or hardly mention it.

        I could give a hundred links or you could just Google in 5 seconds.

    • observer 6.2

      I really think people are or feel no better off than they were.

      That may well be true. There's been some things happening in the world. I'd like to hear about all the countries where people do feel better off. Suggestions?

      while doing f all for beneficiaries.

      It's fine to say "should have done more". It's simply false to say "done nothing".


      Of course you can vote for whoever you want, but I'd only ask one thing. If the Right get in next year and the inevitable happens, please don't say you didn't know and couldn't stop it. We all know.

      • Anne 6.2.1

        If and when the Right get in – and that includes the local body elections – then when reality hits, those who voted for them will suffer a sudden and devastating attack of memory loss that paralyses their ability to accept it was actually their own fault.

    • Labour have not put their Policy out for the 3rd term yet, and a vote for Top currently is a vote for the Right. The old “Bird in the hand or the mythical one in the Bush” A.. mazing!!!

    • Drowsy M. Kram 6.4

      i really think people are or feel no better off than they were.

      Some people expecting to be better off than they were don't understand the situation.

      The certainty of ever-growing living standards we grew up with under Queen Elizabeth is at an end [13 Sept 2022]

      The end of certainty
      How long did that “long 20th century” last? DeLong thinks it ended in 2010, making it a long century of 140 years. Since the global financial crisis, we have been unable to return economic growth to anything like the pace of those 140 glorious years.

      Today, DeLong says material wealth remains criminally” unevenly distributed. And even for those who have enough, it doesn’t seem to make us happy – at least “not in a world where politicians and others prosper mightily from finding new ways to make and keep people unhappy”.

      DeLong sees “large system-destabilizing waves of political and cultural anger from masses of citizens, all upset in different ways at the failure of the system of the twentieth century to work for them as they thought that it should”.

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