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Written By: - Date published: 9:17 am, May 13th, 2018 - 40 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, cost of living, Economy, employment, labour, unemployment, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

This is as good a year as it is going to get to squeeze your employer.

We in New Zealand have grown to expect that the only remaining squeeze against capital resides with the state. And sure, left and right always expect a Labour-led state to always do more.

But it’s also time to recognize our own agency.

How? The state is shifting substantial levers to address poverty, but it’s never going to be enough. This 2018 budget is going to be the biggest we have seen in several decades.

The state is proposing to ‘future-proof‘ the economy. But they define that term to mean ensure they retain enough cash to keep the country out of trouble.

Yet ‘Future-proofing’ for actual worker-citizens really means: we have terrific wages and salaries to get our own selves out. That won’t be achieved with increased Working For Families subsidies.

The scale of Budget 2018’s spending ambition means even greater capacity constraints than there already are. Some worry about whether this scale of public funding will ‘crowd out’ the private sector.

But this government is clearly targeting this expenditure at services that are already public in great majority (education and health), or almost completely (transport). So it is hard to see private sector investment directly displaced.

Wage and salary increases do not appear to be effectively achieved with income tax cuts. Under the previous government, there were income tax cuts in 2010. But 70% of people surveyed said they had made no difference.

So tax cuts don’t do the trick. The harder thing to shift is greed. We know the historical patterns about wealth redistribution over the last 30 years.

We remain a low-wage and commodity based economy, and we know that drags us all down.

Still within that economy, still too many industries fail to plan, then fail, then complain about it and still try to pay nothing much more than the minimum wage.

Both the public and private sectors need us, and as labour resources continue to shrink, they need us more and more.

We have not yet seen the government’s changes to workplace negotiation really lift wages.

But all the pressures are all here.  This is an excellent confluence to act against Generation Wealth.

To carry out their businesses, and to carry out such enormous budgeted public programmes, both the state and business need us more than ever. There just aren’t enough of us to do it all.

The 2018 budgetary surge, the persistently low headline unemployment with seasonal capacity crises, and a persistently low wage economy, point to a really exploitable moment.

So my simple urge to you today is this: if you are working, this month either join a union, or bargain really hard this Performance Review season. This is your moment.

Don’t bemoan the loss of egalitarianism.

This year you deserve a higher wage or salary, so go get it.

Both the state and the businesses know the only alternative to paying handsomely for your loyalty is to import lower-skilled people at a higher cost from overseas.

Make them show you the money.

Workers of New Zealand, squeeze.

40 comments on “Squeeze ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    My employer just spent four months trying to recruit another person with a skillset suitable for our consultancy team.

    They failed.

    I am planning on asking for 20% as the starting point for my payrise negotiations this year.

    As the saying goes, when you’ve got them by the balls all you have to do is squeeze.

    • Ad 1.1

      Squeeze nice and hard; it helps them move their contract-signing hand.

      • Sanctuary 1.1.1

        Actually I don’t fancy my chances, I earn a good salary and a 20% increase would be a huge amount of money. Also, the pot of money is limited and there a some family people doing it tough in other parts of the business.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Re: skills shortage. How many of us are wasted on empty PR and fluff jobs for the artificially created “free” “market” in services that used to be provided by public servants?

    • Anne 2.1

      Sheesh… I could write a small book on the crap that went down inside the Public Service I worked for in the late 80s and early 90s.

      First there was the appearance of an expensive monthly magazine called “Konections” (K instead of C – clever eh?) and we all received our own copy. It was full of words like ‘mission’ and ‘motivation’ and ‘being proud of our product’. Product? We were a Public Service for god’s sake. Then came the memes of the day which encouraged us to “fight them on the beaches”. (Uggh?) And of course there were the “well being” courses offered which nobody attended. Finally there was the arrival of the Human Resources manager which made us feel like a bunch of cows and steers.

      The Bolger government turned it into an SOE and the management was given its marching orders. In this instance, it was the best thing that could have happened.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      At a guess, tens of thousands and quite a few of them probably have degrees that have nothing to do with what they’re doing. What they’re doing probably doesn’t need a degree.

  3. savenz 3

    “Both the state and the businesses know the only alternative to paying handsomely for your loyalty is to import lower-skilled people at a higher cost from overseas’…. that is why wages is so low, if you are a crap employer who can’t keep staff and want to pay under that people are worth and certainly not bother to train them for our industry (why would you apparently someone else’s problem) you can easily just pick up someone from overseas… plenty of reports that you don’t even have to pay the overseas resident seeking employment the correct NZ minimum wages, in some cases the employers expect the employee’s to pay them for the privilege! Has anyone gone to jail for this and received huge fines. Apparently not.

    Employers don’t have to pay handsomely because the state tops them up with various working forms of welfare aka WFF so your workers can actually survive and keep working for you.

    That’s when you get a housing crisis with all the new people coming into NZ who need more welfare than they earn to keep the Ponzi going … infrastructure crisis…. welfare crisis… low wage crisis, left unchecked you are going to have major social issues on top of the above and you are purposely sinking the country from 1st world backwards… how far, who knows.

  4. savenz 4

    Time to raise minimum wages to $20p/h, raising immigration criteria to $100k with a lot more conditions to be met, time for government to tell all the industries that expect the government to solve and pay for all their training problems of staff for them to F off and do it themselves like they used to, time to think about link between highest wage being within 20 times the lowest wage (including subcontractors)(Fonterra/banks comes to mind), time to understand private sector and COO’s and SOE’s have been made into nasty monster’s that are being told again and again short term profits beat long term fair and well run businesses and disasters like Pike River and dysfunction is coming out of it, time to try to keep skilled workers in NZ because our cheap is best approach is making NZ fall lower and lower in practically even direction in OECD rankings from previous places…

    So I don’t like the chances of many workers in NZ to be able to ask their employer for a pay rise…. many employers are so stuck in the cost cutting of worker culture as an easy way to save money, they don’t even understand the concept.

    Look at retail and food. Costs of premises to leases and council rates are sky rocketing. How often do you here about the industry complaining about that instead of the worker wages?

    Instead the focus in always on the ‘worker shortage’ which as most of their staff are already paid below living levels and wages don’t seem to go up with experience, what do they want, bringing back slavery to help keep themselves in business? You have to wonder!

    Many of these businesses just seem to exist to scam more workers into NZ. Someone was commenting that a hairdressers had changed hands about 3 times in the past year in central Auckland where the premises costs are easily over $100,000 a year for the lease and then the refit each time.. does not add up.

  5. Antoine 5

    > This is as good a year as it is going to get to squeeze your employer.

    Is this a good year to get squeezed by your employees?


    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Yes. Businesses that aren’t resilient will fail, leaving gaps in the market for the more competent among us.

      • Antoine 5.1.1

        Can’t the same argument apply in reverse to employees?

        Ones that can’t manage on a low wage will fail, leaving jobs open for more resilient workers.

        [scratches head]


        • One Anonymous Bloke

          I’d stick with that argument if I were you. People will be amazed.

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          “Fail” = ?

          “Resilient” = productive?

          Too Darwinian, and nothing ‘natural’ about it.

        • SpaceMonkey

          Wow… those words are devoid of any humanity.

      • alwyn 5.1.2

        How many people do you employ in the business you own and operate?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          None of your business.

          Also, I’m not relying on personal anecdotes for my opinion, I’m relying on the robust and extensive real world evidence which demonstrates that wage rises do not cause business failure, nor even increases in unemployment.

          • alwyn

            I must admit that when I read a statement like
            “Businesses that aren’t resilient will fail, leaving gaps in the market for the more competent among us”
            I took it to mean that you did own and operate a business and considered yourself to be competent at it. Otherwise why would you say “us”?.
            I was apparently mistaken. You don’t and you aren’t.

        • Incognito

          Fallacy alert!

          • tracey

            Yup. Only those who have employed people are permitted an opinion. But employers have opinion on myriad things they have no experience or knowledge. Eg education. Health. Justice. Environment

        • Tracey


          How many minimum wagers, casual contractors etc do you employ?

          • alwyn

            That is very easy to answer.
            I do not employ anyone who earns only the minimum wage.
            I do employ a casual contractor to look after the garden. I am now past doing it myself. Does that answer the question?
            I am not quite as coy as OAB you see.

    • Tracey 5.2


      It is a rare year that employers have been genuinely squeezed by employees

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    Yet ‘Future-proofing’ for actual worker-citizens really means: we have terrific wages and salaries to get our own selves out.

    Only if you’ve bought the lies of the RWNJs about independent individuals competing against each other.

    For everyone else it means having a viable society that provides everything that you need including enough work and play without poverty anywhere.

    That won’t be achieved with increased Working For Families subsidies.

    Probably correct. We need a UBI instead.

    Some worry about whether this scale of public funding will ‘crowd out’ the private sector.

    These people seem to be concerned that their opportunities for bludging off of the rest of us diminish when we work together via government to provide what we need.

    So it is hard to see private sector investment directly displaced.

    Not hard at all. Once the government provides something efficiently and well, which they’re quite capable of doing, then people are going to question why we’re putting up with the theft by the private sector when we could have government doing it better. Telecommunications and power come to mind.

    Wage and salary increases do not appear to be effectively achieved with income tax cuts.

    They don’t. All tax cuts do is make more money available for the private sector to skim and thus make the rich richer.

    We know the historical patterns about wealth redistribution over the last 30 years.

    We know the historical patterns of wealth distribution in a capitalist society over the last 5000. It always ends in collapse as poverty always increases to the point that the society can no longer sustain itself.

    Both the public and private sectors need us, and as labour resources continue to shrink, they need us more and more.

    If labour resources are shrinking then we’re doing it wrong. Increasing productivity should result in higher availability of labour (which, historically, is why increasing productivity has resulted in lower wages if the economy hasn’t been developed).

    Increased amount of farming is not a Good Thing™ as it’s resistant to productivity increases and pays very little. A reduction in farming will allow us to properly develop our economy.

  7. fender 7

    So we all put the “squeeze” on our employers; businesses then raise the prices of their products and services to compensate; inflation rises; interest rates rise; and we’re back where we started except those in the high income bracket. (?)

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Nope. Businesses don’t set prices, the balance of supply and demand does.

      • savenz 7.1.1

        Yes but in the case of NZ, it isn’t working because the supply of workers through immigration effectively screws up the equation.

        Example, many companies are actually dropping wages every time they employ new workers they then make the experienced people either get static wages in real terms for years or in some cases make them redundant while hiring in cheap workers.

        BTW – this is not just effecting the long term Kiwi residents but also the new migrants. They can’t get a pay rise either. Just like the Kiwis the ones with real skills go overseas too.

        That is also why the quality of workmanship from construction to IT is now full of errors and so hit and miss. In a small country like NZ everyone knows everyone so it’s easy to warn against bad workmanship if the workforce is static, however in NZ that’s not the case due to immigration on steroids.

        How many countries for example think that higher paid and more experienced workers paying decent taxes prior to leaving for overseas to be replaced by someone who has little to no experience and needs to be topped up with government support on their wages, is a good strategy?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          If you ask me the balance has nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with legislation. Right Wing fantasies masquerading as economics making their way into employment law and the local government act, allowing employers too much power to undermine wages and conditions, and local government too little responsibility to maintain services.

          Immigration is only a problem because there’s been no plan, an expectation and/or cynical policy that “the market” will provide. Wage levels are only a problem because of the “high trust model”.

    • Tracey 7.2

      So you accept the market and capitalism are deeply flawed cos you are essentially saying wages must always be low

  8. greywarshark 8

    This notice may be noticed on this post but lost on Open Mike.
    On this Tuesday evening 15 May there is a talk by Dr Wayne Hope I think, in Auckland with some Celtic music too. It should be a brain sharpener talking about how time as a concept is changing and capitalism has caused much of it.
    See more details on Bowalley Road.

  9. Observer Tokoroa 9

    The Elites

    Workers are the Elite of humans. Their health, expertise and commitment are the essential ingredient of any good economy in any Nation.

    As such each Worker should be paid three times any Mananger recieves within an enterprise. And Ten times any Share Holder in the enterprise.

    Modern experience shows that very few managers are capable of carrying out even the simplest of duties. They spend a lot of time trying to take money off their staff, and the consumer.

    Workers are the Backbone of Society. Always have been. Always will be.

    • indiana 9.1

      Until automation replaces the workers, evidenced by airlines implementing check in kiosks, fast food outlets implementing ordering kiosks etc. Society also measure the performance of workers.

      • Incognito 9.1.1

        Society also measure the performance of workers.

        And how does Society do this?

  10. Observer Tokoroa 10

    Workers are the ongoing Elites

    Very very few Managers within enterprises would have the nous to operate or maintain Robots. Robots are highly complex machines. They require very competent Workers.

    Workers are the only beings that would have the ability to keep the right inputs operating – therby producing the right outputs.

    We already know that capitalists are not competent. The narcissistic wasteland of capitalists hinders their development. At the most, they are are autistic and very damaging and dangerous to themselves and Society.

    There are a lot of young people who think machines have brains. But that is because they are steeped in American nonsense. A brain is a LIVING rational incredibly able bio Soul.

    No machine can think. Workers can. Workers can direct machines. They always have been able to do this. They always will be able to do this.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      At the most, they are are autistic and very damaging and dangerous to themselves and Society.

      What have you got against autistic people that you’d make such an ignorant and arrogant statement?

      No machine can think. Workers can. Workers can direct machines. They always have been able to do this. They always will be able to do this.

      1. There’s no need for a human to direct a machine.
      2. Many modern machines a human simply cannot direct as they’re simply not fast enough or precise enough.
      3. At some point we will produces machines that can think.

      • Observer Tokoroa 10.1.1

        Hello Draco T Bastard

        Our Planet spins pretty fast. Has done so for billions of Years. Has it built you a home ? Or a scone or an ice cream ? And yet it spins much faster than you and I could.

        I think you will find that Living Bio Brain (soul, Nous,) – call it what you will – is required for getting a teaspoon made. Workers make spoons. Not dead machines.

        I did not mean to demean persons who are autistic. Far from it. Capitalists work in similar severe autistic patterns that excludes others who are productive. I would be hopeful that we could remedy capitalists at some point in the future.

        Please let me know if you find a mermaid on MT Ruapehu tomorrow. I enjoy winter fantasises but have no time for False science.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Our Planet spins pretty fast. Has done so for billions of Years. Has it built you a home ? Or a scone or an ice cream ? And yet it spins much faster than you and I could.

          That’s not even Planet Key.

          I think you will find that Living Bio Brain (soul, Nous,) – call it what you will – is required for getting a teaspoon made.

          Not now that we’ve made machines to do it.

          I did not mean to demean persons who are autistic.

          But you did in a purposeful manner.

          Please let me know if you find a mermaid on MT Ruapehu tomorrow. I enjoy winter fantasises but have no time for False science.

          You seem to be the one ignoring the science. And all because you, apparently, don’t like the answer.

        • greywarshark

          I would like to think as you do Observer T but you are not keeping up with what is happening in the world of science. Just hanging onto beliefs because you don’t want to face what is happening, refuse to try to understand, isn’t helpful.

          Not wanting to accept the reality is understandable. But if we can understand, keep up, perhaps we can spare ourselves the worst of the outcomes. But the outcomes will be myriad for sure, and there is the cliche’ of ‘unintended consequences’ and the result of chaos theory effects to add into the mix.

          Chaos theory seems to be a formal way of saying that you can’t predict the results of any action with total surety; the only sure thing is that it is likely that something unexpected will happen, but you can’t rely on that.

          We live in interesting times. Understatement.

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