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The casualisation of work

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, November 14th, 2014 - 147 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy, john key, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

This is a trend that has been happening for years. The security of a full time job is becoming more difficult to find. Employment contracts are being designed and drawn up so that workers are at the whim of their boss about how many hours they actually work.

The potential repercussions for the Union movement are clear. Who would even join a Union if the possible result was less or no work.  And who would be prepared to be a Union delegate or even active in trade union activities if the consequence was no work.

And so we have zero hour contracts becoming more and more prevalent.  These are contracts where the amount of work a worker receives is entirely at the whim of the employer.  They are popular amongst fast food chains but are appearing in other industries.  Employment is being increasingly dominated by contracts where the security is minimal.

This issue was made personal for me recently.  A friend of mine’s son secured a job at Farmers for a guaranteed 28 hours a week. He was regularly working full weeks but the extra hours were handed out by his boss at their discretion.  The need to be compliant and non controversial would be obvious to anyone in my friend’s son’s position.

Is the Government worried?  Radio New Zealand reported John Key as follows:

Mr Key said workers should get advice before signing contracts which said their employer was under no obligation to provide work, and that people should be careful to understand what they were signing up for.

“We have a very open and flexible labour market, so obviously people would want to be absolutely sure, if they were engaging in those contracts, that there’s a particular reason why and that they understand the consequences of those,” he said.

“I’m not the expert in them but obviously we always encourage people to get advice.”

Get that?  It is just a matter of getting advice.  Obviously Merchant Bankers and burger flippers can with  the right advice get the contractual terms they want.

Increased casualisation has occurred at the same time as the weakening of the trade union movement and the flow of resources to the rich away from the poor.  They are clearly related phenomena.  Under this current Government things are only going to get worse.

147 comments on “The casualisation of work ”

  1. RedBaronCV 1

    So go to a lawyer at $300 per hour not that it makes any difference , there goes a few weeks pay – arrogant tosser

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      You don’t have to get *legal* advice.

      All Key is really saying is “talk to someone about it”. For many people this would be their parents, partner, or other family member. But for some, no such appropriate person will exist, or any advice they gave would be useless.

      Of course ‘advice’ isn’t somehow a magic bullet, either.

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        hes using smoke and mirrors to avoid the reality of the increasing like it or lump it attitude of employers to low wage employees.

        I know many young people and not so young on casual contracts… they know they are at the mercy of tge employer but cant find other work. regardless of whether the employer needs them tomorrow or next week… they still have rent and bills to pay… cant afford insurances cos they dont know how long they can meet the payments.

        all the advice in the world doesnt change that.

        for them the alternative is welfare… but wait… they turned down “employment”. imo key is being disingenous. factually correct but ignorung the real world.

        • Draco T Bastard

          for them the alternative is welfare… but wait… they turned down “employment”.

          Yep and as soon as they do that they’re off welfare. The unemployment benefit becomes another state subsidy to businesses and the rich and powerful while also being a weapon against rising wages.

      • b waghorn 1.1.2

        I’m would think if you go for a jod interview for a Job in fast food or retail there is likely to be lots of competition , so people who suggest to there possible employer that they are going to seek advise would have there CV dumped in the bin first.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          wait until you start asking about joining the union at the job interview

          • b waghorn

            I bet I went on a tour through a meat works recently and the owners were very proud of the fact they’d got rid of the unions.

          • adam

            #1 way to not get a job C.V. – up it a bit, ask if they have a union? And when they ask that stupid question – where do you see yourself in five years – answer Union delegate of a heavily unionised workforce going for better wages and conditions. Did that once at Wickliffe press, the boss lady almost blew a gasket and threw me out. Laugh, damn near wet myself.

        • Lanthanide

          ” so people who suggest to there possible employer that they are going to seek advise would have there CV dumped in the bin first.”

          Actually the stage at which this happens is when you’ve been given the employment contract. IIRC the law says the prospective employee is allowed to seek advice on the contract, and you’d be a stupid employer that tried to get everything signed and done quickly and thereby prevented the prospective employee from getting advice – they’d likely have room for a PG against you.

          Employers can of course retract an offer of employment.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3

        For many people this would be their parents, partner, or other family member.

        Who for many, probably most, would be no better informed than they are.

  2. Whateva next? 2

    Like the Ritz, justice is available to all

  3. Bill 3

    ms,zero hour contracts are where no hours of work are guaranteed. 28 hours guaranteed is not a zero hour contract. Further, unless there have been changes in the ERA I’m unaware of (fairly likely) then a pattern of work that establishes reasonable expectation of work = the hours an employer must provide, – unless they have good reason to reduce hours and/or consult with the employee.

    Just because fast food places act unlawfully and reduce hours for no reason doesn’t make much of a basis for your post and claims you are making imo

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Thanks Bill I agree that a 28 hour a week is not a zero hour contract. I mentioned this particular contract because it was strange that what should be a full time job was not and the pressure on the employee to comply is the same.

      There are the flexible work provisions in the ERA (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2000/0024/latest/whole.html?search=sw_096be8ed80f0153f_expectation_25_se&p=1#DLM1398200) but who is going to enforce their rights under the threat they will receive no more work?

      • The holy grail for many employers from one man bands, SMEs to corporates is full labour flexibility which just happens to put downward pressure on wages as well. When everyone is a temp (“seagull”) there is even less pushback.

        This is at root of union busting, anti freedom of association legislation (which Nats latest labour reforms essentially are) and an increasingly authoritarian surveillance state. The recent proposed “48 hr sneak & peak” surveilling without warrant is the latest in a long series, including Auckland Transports traffic light cams that will photograph front seat occupants and vehicle ids.

        Labour flexibility and compliance as Micky alludes to can only be achieved in a high and constant un and under employment situation; combined with a compliant and or alienated population.

        Workers are squished from all sides–hard to get regular work, hard to organise for fair treatment, WINZ an absolute last resort if no work and on it goes.
        Productivity increases and regular commensurate wage increases parted company in NZ in 1991 with the advent of the Employment Contracts Act.

        Fightback is the only way as Unite, First Union and Teachers and even some sections of the PSA in particular are doing. Beneficiaries constantly need more advocates too as the degeneration of WINZ from social security to cruel bureaucratic lockdown continues apace.

      • greywarshark 3.1.2

        It is interesting if people are being employed on a part-time 28 hour basis (I think that in employment stats only 30 hours is regarded as full-time, handy to make empl. stats look good, eg thousands of full time jobs have been created this year, more than Labour.)

        If you were on a list of part-time employees who were guaranteed those 28 hours, but had the option of reducing the hours a little, then you would have the option of finding another job to dovetail in to your work week. Then you would be able to get a full working week even beyond 40 hours. Which would be likely, if the time travelling to the jobs was added in to the work period, as in effect it is time you would have to apply to having the jobs. And additionally, there would be no secondary tax grabbing back those extra earnings as if you were a plutocrat double dipping or such.

        Also with guaranteed part-time work would go the option of choosing to have time off either as holiday, sick leave, or unpaid days. This would give the employee some flexibility to attend to personal needs or events which enhance family ties or just social or further educational involvement.

        This sort of treatment would make life more bearable, and allow time for personal life and participation in human community. At present for many, the situation is probably like being in an open prison without ankle rings.

  4. Colonial Rawshark 4

    UK: landlords start turning away those employed on zero hour contracts:


    • Tiger Mountain 4.1

      Well thats interesting. Mortgage applications or various insurances would be out of the question then…

      Any regular financial commitment people have such as eating let alone servicing debt becomes very tenuous under this compliance model.

      • miravox 4.1.1

        There’s no reason at all that a creditor would take a risk on a zero hours employee, because in addition to signing a zero hours contract you can’t sign one with another employer even if your original employer refuses to give you any work hours at all.

        • BassGuy

          That’s not entirely dissimilar to what’s happened to one of my friends.

          This person, while employed for more than 30 hours, is being paid marginally above minimum wage and so has found a casual job for supplementary income. (Four hours in this casual job will give nearly two days wages in the other job.)

          The boss has said that “We come first, any work for your other job is irrelevant to me.”

          It always amuses me the importance placed on people by their minimum wage employers – if the roles are so important, why aren’t they paid sufficiently to ensure employee loyalty?

        • adam

          Why not? I say sign as many zero hour contracts as possible. Why should an employer have exclusivity over nothing? If I told you I have the right to tell you who you slept with or how you ate, you’d rightly tell me to bugger off – why the hell put up with it in work?

          Why are people working anyway? No it’s a serious question, in an environment where labour is treated like shit, what is driving people to get more and more into debt over work?

          It’s not a labour strike I want to see, it’s a labour withdraw.

          • goodsweat

            Lots of people enjoy their employers’ company and company. They buy into the ‘Lets build something here’. This can be a noble pursuit.

            Contracts like the one in question inhibit harmony. Good contracts induce harmony.

            • adam

              Twaddle – do you really believe that ideological twaddle?

              Harmony and noble pursuits, pull the other one – sounds like a middle class wank fest to me.

          • Lanthanide

            If it was a casual contract, then both parties have the right to decline work.

            A zero-hour contract reserves that right solely for the employer (or at least, a well-written one would).

            • Tracey

              I know of a company head officed here in auckland that has been casualising its workforce. however they started recruiting students and paid low wages. so far so good for their bottom line… until nov last year when many of the students went home… and almost none would work the christmas to new year period… full timers had all stats by right.

              if ft workers work stats… the get time and a half and a day in lieu. these were of course the kind of payments the company was trying to avoid…


              • Lanthanide

                I struggle to imagine what kind of “head office” could get by using an itinerant staff with high turnover. I would presume only menial / low-skilled work like call centre or filing or something?

                • greywarshark

                  @ Lathanide
                  And that menial stuff you mentioned, if not done right can cause problems, inefficiencies, time wasted checking and seeking where information is filed, where to get it, and loss of customers because of such inefficiency.

                  Fairfax has apparently outsourced all its customer telephone contacts to the Phillipines. They are trying to do their job well. When they haven’t been told about something and it needs action to assist the customer from within NZ it isn’t available. Fairfax haven’t arranged for an employee to attend to it promptly. Hence I am having nothing to do with Fairfax. And they are supposed to want to attract paying customers so they can get more money. Huh.

                • Tracey

                  I said they had fulltimers as well lanth… It is the AA.

                • McFlock


                  They might be low-skilled/menial jobs, but basic call centre work, filing, processing transactions and so on still need to be done. And the brighter ones were probably promoted to supervisor – so two levels of distance between most of the full-timers and the coalface they suddenly have to pitch in for.

            • adam

              Again, why be held into a contract when one side offers nothing?

          • weka

            “Why are people working anyway? No it’s a serious question, in an environment where labour is treated like shit, what is driving people to get more and more into debt over work?”

            Because most people still believe in getting ahead. Many think that being on the dole is wrong. Protestant work ethic. Kids to feed, rent to pay. Many are locked into debt already so living on the dole is a known financial disaster as opposed to casual work where there is still hope. There’s alot of social pressure to be in work, not matter how dreadful the conditions. Fear of destitution. etc etc.

            • adam

              So fear and Solipsism Weka? Ahead of what?

              • weka

                I hardly think feeding ones kids is solipsism. And yes, people fear poverty.

                • Foreign Waka

                  Have you ever heard about the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

                  LEVEL 1: Physical Survival Needs
                  LEVEL 2: Physical Safety Needs
                  LEVEL 3: Love and Belonging Needs
                  LEVEL 4: Self-esteem Needs
                  LEVEL 5: Self-fulfilled (Self-actualised)

                  level 1-2 are the very basics of survival, meaning needs not met lead to death: Water, Food, Shelter from the Elements, Energy, Security.

                  A Government that is the representation of people who elected them is obliged to cover all 5 levels and is incompetent if it cannot cover any nuance of the first 2 for 99% of the population (1% might choose not to take up any offer).

          • Ross

            I agree with Adam wholeheartedly, and would add, why do we even vote? The answer, surely, is to stop playing their stupid game. Sometime in the eighties the entire world got swallowed whole by the opposite of liberty: the market. It was a bad idea then and it has proven itself to be a bad idea ever since. We still keep applying market principles to everything anyway, and voting for the idiots who advocate it (on both sides of politics). Business (the market) is state mandated psychopathic entities that are required by law to take more than they give. By definition a good business is one that gives nothing and takes everything. If it was a person doing it, they’d be called a thief. If you head a business doing it they make you prime minister. How insane does it have to get before you walk away?

      • Tracey 4.1.2


    • Lanthanide 4.2

      Can’t blame the landlords, really.

      • Colonial Rawshark 4.2.1

        yes, the landlords are working with an economic structure which demands “prudence” and “risk management” which means that prospective tenants with uncertain ability to pay each months rent get the shaft.

        In the moral reality, it is a system where capitalists and rentiers get to plausibly disavow all moral responsibility, absolving their individual conscience with the premise that the free market demands that it is so, and that there are no alternatives.

        • Olwyn

          These two pincers – the need to have a reliable income for a landlord to accept you, and employers getting away with refusing you that, could well be the development that brings about the tipping point. You cannot expect people to acquiesce for long in such contradictory demands at such a fundamental level – people will put up with almost anything but imperatives from one angle whose fulfillment is made impossible by constraints from another.

          • Lanthanide


          • karol

            Yep. When I’ve looked for places to rent in Auckland in recent years, I’ve got relatively low rent places by word of mouth or from local newspapers. I have usually been asked for written references from past landlords.

            Recently I’ve heard that estate agents ask prospective renters for phone numbers of current and/or past landlords…. plus the phone number of their current manager at work – to check if the renter has the income they say they have.

            Oh.. and apparently the rent agreement can just be for a year, and then probably gets renewed each year. My (non-estate agent) rent agreements have always been for an indefinite period.

            So, not necessarily any right of tenure either.

            Not much chance for anyone on zero contracts and/or currently homeless then?!

            • Olwyn

              Not much chance for anyone on zero contracts and/or currently homeless then?

              That’s right Karol. And these two things, earning a living and having a place to live are the very basics – they are not merely “nice to haves.”

            • Lanthanide

              “Oh.. and apparently the rent agreement can just be for a year, and then probably gets renewed each year. My (non-estate agent) rent agreements have always been for an indefinite period.

              So, not necessarily any right of tenure either.”

              The two types of rental agreement are Fixed Tenancy and Periodic.

              Fixed Tenancy is for a set length of time, and can only be broken by mutual agreement of both parties, or in certain circumstances of great financial stress (on either the part of the landlord or the tenant). So that means if you sign up for 1 year as a tenant, you are practically guaranteed the tenancy for that time period, but re-newel is not guaranteed in any fashion, so the landlord can kick you out if they’ve taken a disliking to you for some reason (or just if they want to change plans for the property).

              Periodic tenancy has no such time frame, the tenancy can choose to move out with 21 days (3 weeks) notice, or the landlord can terminate it with 90 days (3 months) notice, or in some cases 42 days (6 weeks) notice.

              They both have their pluses and minuses for each party, but I think it’s difficult to characterise fixed-term contracts as “not having a right of tenure”, since arguably they have more right of tenure than periodic tenancies do.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                For rental accommodation “tenure” should correspond to a minimum secure term of 10 years or more. A 6, 12 month or 24 month fixed term should not be referred to as “tenure”.

              • Craig H

                A real issue I’ve noticed in Christchurch is 6 month fixed-term tenancies as standard for some agencies.

                • karol

                  The last rental place I had, the landlord stipulated I stay for a minimum of 6 months. The landlords I have had (via local newspaper ads) are people with a rental property or two, who do prefer long term tenants – it’s probably a hassle for them to advertise for, and select, reliable tenants.

                  My present landlord’s preference was for someone who would rent long term.

        • greywarshark

          @ Colonial rawshark
          It’s the ‘this is too big for me to be different’ thing. The system must be fed to meet your contract. Landlords need money to pay the bank, repairs and maintenance, themselves. Default and you don’t have your property.

          It is where government needs to act in the way they used to. Government is large enough to take societal steps required. But they don’t and we are just going back to a failed system of ignoring the poor, robbing them of their money spent on drink and letting the children go hungry, as parents fumble and fall under the stress.
          All the time gummins have acted to decrease jobs such as manufacturing where you made things that were needed in society, felt you were part of the backbone of society. That’s all been given away by government in exchange for free entry of dairy products from farms that have been sold to foreigners and which are using our precious free water in many cases, and returning brown water that costs.

          And now forcing mothers out to work which was a no-no at one time. Work was supposed to be an option for women when they had got their children to the self-reliant stage. Not be sentenced to grinding poverty if there was no job, or no work, and a callous society that our people came to NZ to get away from! We have been done like a turkey, and many will be lucky to have Christmas.

    • Tracey 4.3

      of course… and paying insurance premiums is out too cos workers dont know if they will still have work tomorlrow… car health contents all uninsured.

  5. goodsweat 5

    This style of employment contract is ultimately good for nobody. Commitment needs to be a 2 way street for the magic to happen. To insist an employee marry me while I play the field is a plan that can only end in calamity for all.

    I can understand why a landlord would be reluctant to let to a prospective tenant on one of these contracts. The applicant neither has or doesn’t have a job. An applicant dependant on a benefit is already set up, appt with Work and Income and the move in costs, auto rent payment are sorted. Someone on one of these contracts is in limbo-land. Who covers the 2 weeks rent when they’re between the ‘Can’t be counted on’ job and a benefit?

    Many of the issues that confront us will be lessened with raised productivity. When 1000’s of homes are being built Burger King won’t get 50 people respond to an ad. The opportunity for them to stack the employment conditions in their favour will be lessened. At the moment workers don’t have the luxury of stating ‘Bugger that, I’ll take the offer from KFC or Carl’s Jnr.

    I believe that’s what we need to aim for. Then employers aren’t doing the right thing because the law says they have to. They’re doing the right thing because market conditions demand it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Productivity has increased consistently for the last thirty years and the issues that confront us have worsened.

      The problem is right wing employment legislation, which I’m pretty sure you voted for.

      • goodsweat 5.1.1

        Productivity has gone up when we measure the rise in dollars.

        Where we haven’t been productive is creating meaningful positions for people that are never going to be solicitors or split atoms.

        This is a result of an inevitable tide that can’t be stopped from coming in. We can stand around and cry about it, recall the good old days, or do something about.

        Many of the labour intensive jobs are going, they have been for years. We have no tinkers or cobblers anymore. There is still one field that is highly labour intensive. Is the guy that used to squirt the oil on the Watties Baked Bean conveyor line capable of learning how to lay a bathroom of tiles? Screw on a long-run roof? Make a sandwich at the lunch-bar up the road from the subdivision? Yep, yep and yep.

        Building is one of the last areas where labour is still a huge component of all facets of the sector. The Chinese might very well make the knocked down kitchen but they can’t install it.

        Raised productivity? Yes, more money but not more roles for everyone.

        I lived for some years in Sweden. I dream of living in a society like a late 90’s Sweden, I believe it was the best arrangement of society I’ve experienced. If I need a label, I think that makes me a Democratic Socialist. It was neat living in a community where bus drivers drove new Volvos and Grandparents on the state pension could afford to take the Grandkids to Disneyland. I voted for the NZ party that I feel was most aligned with those philosophies and voted National.

        The Swedes don’t stand around crying, they get stuck in. I was amused when I first got to Sweden, without exception they described themselves as ‘Socialists’, it seemed odd. I grew to say the same thing, with pride. We have the All Blacks and Zespri, the list of these Socialists’ global businesses is huge. Here’s a few: Volvo, Scania, Ericsson, ABB, Atlas Copco, Ikea, H&M, AstraZeneca, Eletrolux, Tetrapak, Saab and MySQL.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          A muddle of rhetoric signifying nothing.

          Thanks for the “standing around and crying about it”: employing malicious smears reveals your character.

          • Coffee Connoissuer

            “A muddle of rhetoric signifying nothing.

            Thanks for the “standing around and crying about it”: employing malicious smears reveals your character.”

            Actually Goodsweat is bang on the money. Our biggest problem is our inability to acknowledge the system we have, understand how it works and make decisions that will give our society the best possible outcomes until society gets to the point where we can have the systemic change that many of us are after.

            “We have the All Blacks and Zespri, the list of these Socialists’ global businesses is huge. Here’s a few: Volvo, Scania, Ericsson, ABB, Atlas Copco, Ikea, H&M, AstraZeneca, Eletrolux, Tetrapak, Saab and MySQL.”

            It is a global economy right now and to get the very best outcomes for kiwis we actually need to start looking at everything government does as a business i.e. NZ competing with the rest of the world with the goal of delivering the best outcomes for ALL New Zealanders.

            Sounds like the rhetoric of the right? Its not. Not in the way that we should be approaching it. In fact this is where R wingers miss the mark by a country mile. Unless we are talking National security many on the right have the view that less govt is better. Less Beauracracy yes definitely but in many cases if done the right way Govt can deliver far better outcomes for kiwis than the private sector can.
            Imagine a govt that was setup not only to deliver essential services but had a mandate to make as much profit as possible. Not from its shareholders (you and me) but from overseas markets etc.

            Make enough profit and you can all of a sudden have very low taxes and or far better social outcomes across the board.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          The Swedes don’t stand around crying, they get stuck in. I was amused when I first got to Sweden, without exception they described themselves as ‘Socialists’, it seemed odd. I grew to say the same thing, with pride. We have the All Blacks and Zespri, the list of these Socialists’ global businesses is huge. Here’s a few: Volvo, Scania, Ericsson, ABB, Atlas Copco, Ikea, H&M, AstraZeneca, Eletrolux, Tetrapak, Saab and MySQL.

          Corporate giants like Toyota, Samsung, Hyundai not to mention Coca Cola and others had massive levels of government help to get established and developed. Singapore Inc, one of the most prosperous and advanced nations on the pacific rim, is nothing but a 50 year old government run economic project.

          NZ, having swallowed “free market” falsehoods holus bolus, simply no longer has any idea.

          But the building of global corporate giants is the past. Today we need to put our energies and creativity into preparing for a low carbon, highly localised economy. Because it is going to be forced upon us in the next 25 or so years any way.

          • miravox


          • Chooky

            …and we need to shun John Key’s corporate banksters TPP which will gut us

            ….and find new Trading partners like Russia which is open to dairy and agricultural exports from New Zealand …why should NZ farmers go to the dogs and be forced into debt and selling their land…

            ….Russia is a future long term trading partner which could set New Zealand up to be a much wealthier country ……it is a no brainer!…we should be getting into this new market opportunity fast….like Latin America




            (…we need to think smart and think independent and think flexible or NZers and their land will be dog tucker for the corporate robbers)

            we must first retain what we have and then work towards a new diversified low carbon, highly localised economy…. a high tech export economy

            • greywarshark

              @ Chooky
              I agree we should be looking at Russia and seeing what we can do with it in trade. I referred in an earlier post to the arrangements that we made in the past so we could trade with Russia during the cold war times. This was strongly in dairy produce, and I noted the book that had been written about dealing with them and the difficulties, triumphs, experience and success of coming to terms with them satisfactorily.

              My comments relating to Russia and trade and NZ plus other things.

              Open mike 25/03/2013

              Starving the universities

              • Chooky

                thanks greyshark…seems a no brainer to me…to trade with Russia…. rather than go bankrupt and have to sell off your land to the banksters

              • Colonial Rawshark

                I agree we should be looking at Russia and seeing what we can do with it in trade. I referred in an earlier post to the arrangements that we made in the past so we could trade with Russia during the cold war times.

                We keep one foot in the US/UK/Australia/Canada camp. And the other in the Brazil/Russia/India/China camp.

                • Chooky

                  yes well if the Russian’s are willing to pay a high price for NZ dairy …it would be madness for NZ dairy farmers to go to the wall and have to sell up their land to bankster robbers because they cant get enough for their dairy

                  imo…..put your foot in the highest price shoe ie go with the best trading partner…especially if your farm is at stake

        • tc

          MySQL is owned by Oracle so it’s about as swedish as a kebab

        • Draco T Bastard

          I voted for the NZ party that I feel was most aligned with those philosophies and voted National.

          Then you obviously have NFI as to what National actually stands for. The only people they want going to Disneyland are the rich and grandparents should be working in mind-numbing jobs and neither have the time nor the resources to see the grandchildren.

        • Murray Rawshark

          The top Swedish income tax rate is about 46% and the state plays a much greater role in health, education, and business than National would ever want to do. You’re really starting to come across as a bit simple.

      • Coffee Connoissuer 5.1.2

        “The problem is right wing employment legislation”
        Add to that the Profit Motive and the Capitalist system
        a relatively relaxed immigration policy (from the Left too),
        Exorbitant CEO wages designed to incentivize them to increase profit through
        Restructuring to remove middle management
        Automation to remove high paid roles in favour of automated solutions
        Offshoring of business operations that do require labour to overseas countries where the cost of labour is far less.

        All of these are designed to and do put continuous downward pressure on wages.

    • greywarshark 5.2

      @ goodsweat
      When the sun shines in the right strength, the moon is lined up, the economy is thriving and the economic system is working well with supply and demand, then employers will be forced by the principles of the free market economy, to offer better conditions for their workers.

      Yeah right. This doesn’t apply in reality as shown by the wages of care workers in rest homes for which there is great demand to do physical real work – intimate, important work looking after people with needs from age or disability.

      What’s the fairy tale you go to bed with? Little Red Riding Hood got pulled from the stomach of the wicked wolf who had swallowed her with one gulp, by her caring father rushing to her assistance. Workers need unions to do the same for them. Your lot with your petty falsifications and fancies won’t try.

      • goodsweat 5.2.1

        Do you believe in an indirect and self fulfilling manner we get what we ask for? I do.

        You’ve got 265,000 hungry children, I’m flat-out finding one. I’m ideally placed to meet heaps, I don’t meet one. I do speak with lots of mothers and fathers on low incomes that speak from their hearts when they state ‘The most important thing in my life will always be the wellbeing of my children.’

        Raise your hand if your kids are hungry? NZ’s poverty is a whole lot more insidious. Just enough rope to not quite hang ourselves is often worse than being hungry.

        I’m dragging this off subject, my apologies MS.

        Yep, I might of got caught with a lick of the Nat brush but I’m still able to see that employment contracts of this type undermine a society.

        • Chooky

          @goodsweat….re “You’ve got 265,000 hungry children, I’m flat-out finding one”…..well maybe you are not looking in the right places!!!…or maybe you are just blind…or maybe you are stuck in John Key’s multi million dollar suburb….

          ….this was a very important issue for Hone Harawira and Mana/Int…and now Metiria Turei and the Greens… who have taken over the issue of school breakfasts/lunches from him ( are you saying they are liars and whipping up a nonexistent problem?!…shame on you!)

          ….My mother , a former teacher, often had to feed kids who came to school without lunch and probably had no breakfast….the school had weetbix and milk in the fridge and she bought bread and made extra lunch at school or paid for them …the situation must have got far worse since she retired 20 years ago

          • goodsweat

            Chooky, I fear I’m steering Mickey’s post off track. If you’d like to cut and paste your comment to Open Mike I’ll pick it up.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          “I’m flat out finding one”.

          Don’t mention it.

          • goodsweat

            Thanks, its an expensive and comprehensive report written by people that are obliged to find that we are in fact knee deep in starving children.

            As I said earlier, without exception, the scores of low income families I’m familiar with, their kids always come first. The family with hungry kids have a problem that an extra $40 a week or school lunches isn’t going to fix.

            • One Anonymous Bloke


              [citation needed]

              Is The Lancet similarly “obliged”?

              • greywarshark

                This from gsweat
                Thanks, its an expensive and comprehensive report written by people that are obliged to find that we are in fact knee deep in starving children.
                This must be how NACTs view all reports and information that they feel may present them with problems that should be addressed. Sneer at the findings, that makes the problem seem trivial, and hopefully interest in it will die. That;s how they kill off difficulties, and eventually kiwis large and small.

            • McFlock

              Thanks, its an expensive and comprehensive report written by people that are obliged to find that we are in fact knee deep in starving children.

              please cite the conflict of interest that you have alleged exists.
              Otherwise, feel free to go fuck yourself.

              I mean, what the fuck is your logic: that if a problem is studied by professionals, they have an interest in identifying a problem?
              What next: a particular disease is a myth prolonged by people paid to treat it, you haven’t seen a case therefore it must not exist?

            • greywarshark

              @ Gsweat
              Prissy little stories about the people you know. If you want to find people to back up the stories we hear go straight to Hone. Do proper research in a way that won’t result in hurting the people you talk to.

              And you saying that if people are so badly off then school lunches aren’t going to fix the problem. I can’t believe you come here with your tripe like this pretending that you have some rational point to make. You are a Uriah Heep wiping your hands together with a phony sanctimonious speech. The food helps that child that day. It apparently takes over two months to starve to death but it soon starts to gnaw at you.

              In the Jewish ghettos as they ran out of food in WW2 people were dying and couldn’t feed themselves and put their children out on the pavement in the hope that someone would give them some food. Your attitude is the same as the people who brought this about. Don’t care about the parents and their difficulties and how lost they are, and don’t care about the children, it’s the parents’ fault not yours, or anyone else’s, and having established who is at fault is what’s most important.

    • framu 5.3

      “To insist an employee marry me while I play the field is a plan that can only end in calamity for all.”

      thats actually a very good metaphor for zero hours contracts – one that easily understood by pretty much everyone

    • Tracey 5.4

      This is one flaw in your grow the pie and wages grow too theory.

      The pie and productivity have been growing for decades BUT what we see today areforty hour jobs cut in half and called progress, omitting that twenty hours a week on minimum wage is crippling.

      I dont advocate for unions or employers to hold each other to ransom but the intentional attack on union power to act as a collective for the less powerful is a major reason theabove state of affairs has arisen. Those in unions tend in low skill low wage jobs to have higher wages than their non union counterparts.

      The disempoering of this group of workers for decades exactly coincides with the treatment of workers as a pesky hinderance to the ability to make profits.

      • goodsweat 5.4.1

        Hi Tracey, I agree. We are seeing less demand and fewer roles for those that make a living with their hands.

        There will always be a demand for these people but we do need to fertilise areas for them just now because it is here that there is a glut of capable people and seeds of exploitation can germinate.

        There are so many hands-on skills associated with the building game. Good truck drivers with pin-point Hiab skills should be on $35 an hour. A shortage of them is the best way to make that come about. Lets build 1000’s of houses and teach our kids how to do it. International skill that one.

        • Tracey

          The problem is gsweaty that, like the mining game, where big truck driving is bigger money, anyone pushing employers for safety or other conditions get relegated off said trucks… Until they toe the line and accept safety compromise. Younger, inexperienced drivers are cheaper, so the older folk, who also know the engine inside out disappear and so does their experience.

          Its false economy of couse but many employers focus on short term gain, espesh where they have shareholders or backers.

          I think you hit the nail on the head earlier. Somehow we have to make the notion of a fair go sexy and trendy again. Ideology that makes this kind of behaviour (above) laudable takes us further from the fairness goal, not closer.

          • goodsweat

            I’m generally for less government. I am all for a government having flexible, reasonable and consequently respected, regulators. Pike River was an appalling failure that we must ensure never happens again.

            I’d like to see an environment where it isn’t a worker’s role to point out ‘Ummm, isn’t that odour methane?’ or for that matter ‘I can’t get a mortgage because of the contract my boss has got me on.’ Apparently our need for unions has been superseded by employment law. If so, great, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be expecting a man from the government to be approaching BK with a “This ain’t on buddy.” letter.

            • lprent

              Methane is odourless.if you think that through with who was meant to keep track of the sensor, it makes it worse.

            • Lanthanide

              “I’d like to see an environment where it isn’t a worker’s role to point out ‘Ummm, isn’t that odour methane?’ ”

              Well you’ll be upset about the new health and safety bill that has been created as a direct result of Pike River. The new bill places the responsibility for H&S on *all staff*, not just the directors / owners as the current law does.

            • Tracey

              Then odd you voted national, altho they say want less govt they like govt to bail and subsidise business with little recipricocity

              The movement of employment law is ideologically driven. It is probably the most regularly altered legislation depending on who is on the treasury benches. For the last twenty to thirty years each time nats have moved it to favour their profit driven ideology, the left only move it slightly when they are back in. Accordingly it is now lopsided and unrelated to the everyman ideal of a fair go you believe exists in every kiwi.

              Employment law changes are one example of why your everyman fair go idea is flawed.

            • greywarshark

              I don’t know what you are on about.
              I’m generally for less government. I am all for a government having flexible, reasonable and consequently respected, regulators. Pike River was an appalling failure that we must ensure never happens again…..
              Apparently our need for unions has been superseded by employment law. If so, great,

              You seem to be talking at cross purposes.

              It’s good that you have some ideas for rational skill provision and training and building houses that are fit for the need of lower income people. That is what we are wanting, it’s not a new idea and like you we believe it should be done.
              If you vote National perhaps you could apply some pressure to this do-nothing government who are afraid to take action in case some friend of theirs wants to start in business in that line. It is so difficult for National to run government efficiently so that the best opportunities are provided for their connections. It is finding that balance of private/public which as a rule of thumb should probably be 80/20 optimally, for them.

  6. hunter 6

    I first heard this seemingly innocuous phrase “flexible” from the manager of my work place 6 years ago . In the previous few years our union had been out manoeuvred by fair means and foul so I had been waiting for the axe to fall. Correctly I interpreted flexible work place practice to mean “a foot firmly planted on our throats” and luckily for me, was in the position where I could pull the pin and get out. Unfortunately for many of my co workers they were not at liberty ( excuse the pun ) to follow me and subsequently suffered from the draconian management practices that transpired. Such a small seemingly throw away word camouflaging such ill intent.

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      And this is the bizarre thing: businesses which treat workers badly are at huge financial threat from those same workers. A key worker, disgruntled, can cause a permanent or lengthy shut down at most any work place. In other words, the place of business becomes not unlike a cold war zone. The only kinds of managers and business owners who enjoy this kind of environment are sociopaths.

      • Lanthanide 6.1.1

        1. Keep kicking the can down the road, hoping that it won’t blow up on your watch.
        2. If the ship does sink on your watch, the previous X years skimming the cream from everyone’s wages will insulate you from any real loss, and you can go onto your next venture toot-sweet.

      • Foreign Waka 6.1.2

        Don’t mention it, lots of those around. Their major game is called “restructure” as this guaranties their multimillion income. New Ideas etc…. but really its a race to the bottom and no one want’s to be the last when the doors are shut. Many companies have operated this way and outsources consequently to Thailand, China etc…

  7. Chooky 7

    Andrew Little for Prime Minister! ( with co -leader the great Nanaia Mahuta! )

  8. Chooky 8

    How much of this is due to overseas companies and corporates pushing this casualisation onto NZ workers….and paying them the absolute minimum? (less than they would get overseas in exactly the same jobs)

  9. Coffee Connoissuer 9

    Whist not ideal those that do take up such an opportunity and show good work ethic are likely to reap the rewards either by their employer or through the experience they gain which may provide a path to bigger and better things with their next employer.

    I was on this sort of contract 20 years ago working at Hallensteins. I even got the job simply because I wore a suit and beat the feet with my (very limited at the time) CV in hand. That experience did indeed lead onto bigger and better things.
    Sometimes people need to take the opportunities that life presents them and make their own luck.

    In my view this is a minor problem now compared to the automation that is already here. The automation is accelerating as a result of app based, cloud based solutions making far cheaper or zero cost alternatives available to everyone.
    apps such as ‘Yes Drill Sargent’. This one in particular has the ability to do away with the personal trainer as we know it.

    As the pace of this technology picks up more and more zero hour contracts will likely be on offer as businesses seek to fill peaks in their business that can’t be adequately handled by new technology.
    That is of course until such time as technology becomes available to deliver the businesses desired outcomes in those peak times too.

    This is the problem and it is not a problem that the current system is set up to handle. The politicians haven’t got the knowledge or the will to deal with what is coming either.

    the zero hour contract issue and focusing on that is like putting a band aid on a paper cut when workers are going to go through what is likely to be a slow motion train wreck.

    In short without major systemic change things are going to get much much worse to the point where a zero hour contract will be welcomed by many as the alternative is much more dire by comparison.

    The good news is that change will come. It will have to.
    The question is how painful do we want that change be?

    • Ergo Robertina 9.1

      Tech boosterism is being used to justify TINA exploitation of workers and it’s utterly disingenuous. Take sectors like home social care, automation is nowhere near having an effect (and yep, healthcare bots, but we’re a long way from them going house to house dealing with the needs of complex elderly people). Those workers are some of the most exploited of all. Automation is real but it’s also being spun to justify not paying a living wage.

      • Coffee Connoissuer 9.1.1

        Its not being spun. It is market forces at work but then in this case you are getting the system that has been paid for. If you want to fix the problem then the time has come to look at system change.

        even a living wage will only prolong the inevitable and even increase the drive towards automation.

        • Ergo Robertina

          It is being spun and your TINA response is a case in point.
          What do you mean by: ‘even a living wage will only prolong the inevitable’?
          If as you claim paying living wage increases the drive to automation, what is it prolonging?

          • Coffee Connoissuer

            Got any concrete evidence of spin because right now your arguing 20 years experience of automating systems.

            As for living wage prolonging the inevitable…
            World population http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/
            so 7+billion and increasing world population vs Automation of roles at a faster pace now than at any other time in history.

            We have a system that is well past its used by date and isn’t designed (capable is a better word) for this. Living wage will prolong the slide towards total societal and system collapse.
            That’s one option.

            The second is a much much more totalitarian society with more and more personal freedoms having been removed (although that will be a smaller problem than trying to feed your family)

            The third is system change to a system designed for everyone. That would be the most preferable option but will take a generation (more like two) to implement. And yes we have the capability, knowledge and skills to now design such a system and determine how to transition too it.

            A living wage will be required but if it is not used to buy time to change the system and avoid major social upheaval then it is going to be a very sad world to live in.
            Especially when alternatives like transitioning to a Resource Based Economy would provide a far better standard of living for everyone everywhere and use far less resources than we do today.

            • ghostwhowalksnz

              What a load of techno babble. vitually all the zero hours type contracts are in customer service. I suppose u think a drone will be replacing those jobs soon.

              • Coffee Connoissuer

                Techno babble to you it may be but customer service roles have been replaced in the past and will continue to be.
                tell your drone story to the checkout employees that have been replaced by self serve checkouts. Or to the retail sales assistant who lost his/her job when the business that they were working for went under because of online shopping (or because the business owner decided to take their business online to eliminate the costs associated with running a bricks and mortar operation.

            • Coffee Connoissuer

              Sorry reread your post. If your example is healthcare workers fair enough. On that I couldn’t comment. But the system we have is driven by the profit motive for all businesses. Wages are always going to cost more in the long run than automation, therefore their will always be a financial driver to automate and on the other end there will be a supplier to provide a solution that whilst good for the business will put workers out of a job and in doing so improve the businesses ability to compete against other businesses in the same industry.

              The profit motive has also of course created a system where poor design and planned obsolescence cause us as a society to outstrip the available resources. Unless you are prepared to get rid of the profit motive then things will continue on a downward slide for workers.

              • Foreign Waka

                The issue with that philosophy is not the living wage per se but the impertinence of some to belief that their profit motive justifies that people are being driven into poverty and ending up in despair.
                This in itself is a very dangerous proposition in terms of civil peace. It is historically not the first time waves of unrest happen due to change in the way we work, so where are all the “clever” and “savvy” people with their grand ideas and “solutions”? So far I only see a lot of them being greedy, nothing learned, nothing gained.
                To just hope for the invisible hand to arrange the deck chairs will not be enough. A new concept of citizenship is needed. A balance of obligations and rights for people to live in dignity. If we cannot manage that it will take generations to rectify what this current idiot lot of humans have not been able to do.

        • greywarshark

          Coffee Con
          Your name says it all. Airy fairy talk about changing the system. But not to improve things for the workers I think. Just to rationalise away the need for three meals a day, in this brave new world you only need two, adapt or die. Keep up with the machines, this is how it is these days, its market forces blah blah.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oj7ZuNaHPI Affirmative.

    • JeevesPOnzi 9.2

      “This one in particular has the ability to do away with the personal trainer as we know it. ”

      Its the end of the world as we know it- who’s next ? feng shuei practitioners and stylists?

    • McFlock 9.3

      Without getting into the tech debate again, I’d like to look at your opening comment:

      Whist not ideal those that do take up such an opportunity and show good work ethic are likely to reap the rewards either by their employer or through the experience they gain which may provide a path to bigger and better things with their next employer.

      “likely”. Not “guaranteed”. “May provide”. Similarly vague.
      Basically, your comment seems to be along the lines that the employee should be grateful that they are being expected to invest income insecurity in exchange for the possibility of future direct or indirect rewards.

      Entrepreneurs do this all the time.
      But entrepreneurs have the choice.
      Most employees do not have that choice.

      A zero-hour contract is the situation where the employer forces their employee to mitigate the risks that the employer faces, but the employer reaps the rewards of that risk, and “may” choose to share those rewards with the employee.

      We have the sort of society now where people epmployed in the same industry for 30 years are being killed on the job that was still only paying them $16/hr. Twenty years ago employers were only just getting to grips with the employment contracts act, and unions were still fairly strong. Not any more.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.4

      Whist not ideal those that do take up such an opportunity and show good work ethic are likely to reap the rewards either by their employer or through the experience they gain which may provide a path to bigger and better things with their next employer.


      Or, to be more precise, the sociopaths in positions of power will choose the sociopaths to succeed them resulting in an ever more sociopathic society. The people not chosen by the sociopaths will remain in the ever increasing poverty.

      This is the problem and it is not a problem that the current system is set up to handle.

      That’s because the present system is designed to produce and protect a very few rich people at everyone else’s expense. To change that, and we do need to, we need to get rid of the rich people and the influence that they have over our politics.

  10. gsays 10

    i cant help feeling there are some other ripples that will flow from this.

    after a generation or less of these kinds of conditions, we will get a hardened attitude akin to the smacking children defence: “i was on a zero hour contract and i turned out alright”

    it also seems to be another step away from what old school labour party was about.
    i have many friends who belong to the precariat ( i forget who coined the term but it refers to the self-employed, working/middle class, who live on a contract to contract basis). all they saw in labours’ policies was a lot less in my wallet (cgt and kiwi saver contributions going up) and i aint voting for that.

    i do not know the way forward for the labour party- whether the turning back of recent labour legislation or a new path is the way. there are brighter, better paid people than me who can solve that problem.

    • miravox 10.1

      ” i forget who coined the term but it refers to the self-employed, working/middle class, who live on a contract to contract basis”

      Guy Standing

      Crazily, he’s an economist. You’d think the righties would listen to him. But then a few economists are saying some weirdly un-conservative stuff right now (queue Picketty, Stiglitz and even our own Gareth Morgan). Standing (like others) calls for governments to ensure financial security is available to all – including an unconditional basic income. If this were the case, zero hours contracts would be a smaller problem.

  11. The word contract is an issue as well. Unions in recent times negotiate agreements or Collective Employment Agreements, or too rarely, and not at all if Nats have their way–MECAs–Multi Employer Collective Agreements.

    ‘Agreement’ and ‘Contract’ generally describe different processes and power relationships.

    Another favourite concept of bucket head marketeers is reducing all human behaviour to that of a transaction. Language is bought into service too, approx 400 people per year have been ‘trespassed’ ie banned from WINZ offices every year since Key was elected. “fit for purpose”, “going forward” what the fuck does that really mean?

    “Zero hours” is just meant to make waiting for a phone call and brown nosing acceptable, like “internship” makes unpaid often forced labour (you’ll never work in this industry again etc) ok for some.

    • Skinny 11.1

      MECAs–Multi Employer Collective Agreements is a great way to level things out for unionised workers. Similar to awards, benchmark terms and condition, standardise in other words.

      Of course the bosses/rightwing prefer a market approach, dog eat dog, some workers will always be prepared to except crumbs, helped by importing slave labour which benefits the rich elite.

      This is how Zero Hours surfaced in the UK, once the boarders were opened up to former east europeans the poms were sunk. That prick Tory PM Cameron has kicked the crap out of the working class in England, with the effect of a flow on down here and OZ. Just like Thatcher’s employment policies did here all those years ago.

  12. goodsweat 12

    There are some aspects of being a New Zealander that straddle political allegiances.

    We are a nation that was founded by adventurers and ordinary people in search of a better life. Both times. Out of a heritage like that some principles stand taller than others. Our longest running TV programs reflect our culture rather than fads or fashion. Country Calendar and Fair Go.

    Regardless of where an individual sits on the political, ethical, age, income compass we all feel passionately about seeing a fair go done. Casual contracts that demand plenty and offer little in return are not a fair go.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      we all feel passionately about seeing a fair go done

      Is that true? I can’t see how it can be, or else who enforces the zero hours contracts and destroys collective bargaining rights?

    • Tracey 12.2

      So how do you explain the proliferation of casual contracts? Down to employing ceos from overseas who dont get that all kiwis want a fair go…

      Mamy kiwis believe a fair go is getting whztever they can for themselves anyway possible. I think that may not be thefair go you are describing.

  13. Fahrenheit 451 13

    Be a good slave and just shut up all of you, or alternatively read this:


    Guy Standing (Prof economic security Britain’s Bath University) 2011 book

    “The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class outlined his case for why an increasingly insecure workforce poses a threat to social stability.

    “having more young and relatively well-educated people pushed into insecure jobs — if they have jobs at all — that provide little prospect of building a meaningful career could lead to growing intolerance, stress, and a breakdown of social cohesion and community.

    He says the increase in employment that lacks security has helped fuel the growth of various forms of extremism, as “the precariat” loses faith in conventional centre-left and centre-right political parties and agendas. He points to the drift to the far right in Europe and the United States, with former working-class people being lured by populist sirens playing on the fears of an anxious and insecure workforce.”


    f course, there has always been casual labour. This in itself does not distinguish the precariat. The key point is that the precariat is subjected to what I call precariatisation – habituation to expecting a life of unstable labour and unstable living. Breman claims I say men are experiencing precariatisation (although he misquotes the word) as loss of status. But precariatisation refers not to loss of status, but to the opposite of proletarianisation – an habituation to stable wage labour – a much-used concept deployed by historians in analysing what happened in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Precariatisation is about loss of control over time and the development and use of one’s capabilities.

    In addition, the modal member of the precariat is unlike the old proletarian in having a level of formal schooling that is well above the level of the job he or she is expected to do. This is historically unique. Unlike the classic proletarian, who at best learned a craft or skill at an early age and if successful could rise from journeyman to artisan to master craftsman or supervisor, the precariat is expected to learn and relearn myriad tricks and develop social, emotional and communication skills that exceed anything demanded of the proletarian.

    This is precariat skilling, fleeting, costly to acquire, easy to lose. It goes with lack of any occupational narrative members of the precariat can give to their working lives. Some do not have any occupational identity. Possibly even worse is the situation of those initially set on a course to acquire an occupational identity only to have it snatched away, again and again.”

    “Do you understand now why books are hated and feared? Because they reveal the pores on the face of life. The comfortable people want only the faces of the full moon, wax, faces without pores, hairless, expressionless.”

    ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

  14. Darien Fenton 14

    There’s been zero hours contracts in NZ around for ages. They just have different names here. There’s casual contracts : if the boss wants, they call you. No guarantees. There’s temporary work agency contracts : if the boss wants, they call you. No guarantees. There’s independent contract work : if you are lucky, you will get a job for a fixed price, but don’t expect more. The Employment Relations Act doesn’t even require that hours of work are stipulated in an agreement : let alone wages in collective agreements. Hours of work are frequently reduced to meet business profit objectives. Take cleaners for example, where the hours worked to deliver a cleaning contract are cut to allow business profit. I put together a bill for 2013 Labour Day that would require at least the hours of work in a collective agreement; which they are not. And what’s worse, wages don’t have to be mentioned either.


    Oh and if you are talking about language, let’s start calling workers workers again, not employees.

    • miravox 14.1

      The problem with unclear terminology.

      As you know Darien, and just to spell it out, because your comment doesn’t make clear why variable hours contracts have become an issue, that casual contracts that we’ve had around for ages were not exclusive one employer and most often were an agreement to cover for staff shortages e.g. peak tourist times, events e.g. stadiums), or someone who employers could call in when other staff were sick. Flexible casual staff contracts, with agreement on both sides to offer and decline work (some even including a retainer). Workers could get these changed to ‘part-time’ or ‘full-time’ contracts if the hours they worked became regular, claiming all the legal protections that entailed.

      Enforced Zero hours contracts, on the other hand, are for when an employer doesn’t want to pay staff during fluctuations e.g. a week gets ‘slow’ so they can send staff home without consequence to themselves and where the employer can avoid some worker protection/pay legislation. Moreover, zero hours contracts are exclusive – where the employee may only sign with one employer, instead of being able to call another employer/contractor if work is not available with the first.

      It doesn’t help to buy into the lines the right use – that we’ve always had zero contract hours. We haven’t. We had casual contracts, we now have zero hours contracts. This is a desperation contract for the employee, not a flexible contract.

      Anyway is your bill still in the current, or it a legacy of 2013? It’s definitely needed.

  15. politikiwi 15

    The underlying assumption here is that working is just an option; that people looking for work have choice. There’s an implication that the worker maintains the right to say “no, thanks” to a job simply because the contract isn’t to their liking.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, especially in low-paid work. If someone’s looking at minimum wage work and they’ve got bills to pay or mouths to feed, then in a market where jobs are scarce, they are forced to take what’s offered (or go hungry or into debt). There is no choice for those people – it doesn’t matter how much advice they get.

    Does the PM really think that someone offered a zero-hour contract by BK can consult a lawyer (if they can afford it…) and then have BK strike-out the zero hour clause in the contract on the basis of the legal advice? No fucking chance: In a labour market where jobs are scarce, BK will just hire somebody else.

    The workers at the lower end of the employment food chain have no power individually and anyone who suggests otherwise is a liar or a fool. Workers who are perceived as being “easily replaced” need collectivism or they have no power, and the demise of unions is no beginning to prove exactly that.

    • goodsweat 15.1

      Forcing an employer to do the right thing by workers is a plan with it’s ethos in the same place as bosses forcing workers to jump through hoops.

      In the ideal scenario businesses would be doing the right thing by workers because it is the attractive and profitable path to walk. It would be good if market forces brought a good result about. This could happen when we see things like the employees at Burger X enjoying a profit share arrangement and burger buyers frequent Burger X because it’s always so clean and the staff seem genuinely friendly.

      For us to have a chance of generating a climate like that we need the current competition for jobs to flop over the other way to competition for workers. Lets raise productivity.

      We are currently shipping huge pieces of 25,000 year old Kauri that we excavate from Northland peat swamps to China. It is made into furniture for the mega wealthy. The timber’s age is important. It is about then that the Chinese Civilisation started. It is an important time for all Chinese people. There are now 1000’s of Chinese people that buy $10,000 sideboards. There are millions of people with $30 to spare.

      Lets make presentation gift sets of 25,000 year old chop-sticks, package them, promote the legend and wholesale them to retailers in China.

      • Chooky 15.1.1

        Swamp kauri belongs to the Maori actually . It is a Taonga, Maori cultural treasure like pounamu …and is used for Maori carving and art…it should not be exported to China by the likes of Judith Collin’s husband..out for a fast buck

        …especially from the Far North ….where Maori are very poor….Hone Harawira’s country

        ….cultural sensitivity?….Not!



      • joe90 15.1.2

        We are currently shipping huge pieces of 25,000 year old Kauri that we excavate from Northland peat swamps to China.

        No, we’re not doing anything of the sort. People with friends are willfully defying the law to pillage a natural resource with no concern for the rightful owners.

        “We export probably about 1000 cube a year,” says Mr Beckham. “There’s roughly 25 cube in a container, so it’s 40 containers. [It is] probably [worth] closer to $2 million [annually]. That price is increasing every day.”

        That’s a powerful incentive for local contractors like Mr Beckham to shift as much product as they can overseas. From around 2009, Chinese interest in swamp kauri has boomed, and there is a ready market for gigantic slabs. But geologist Dr Allen says that here, too, the law is inadequate and being shamelessly exploited by exporters.

        “It’s overlooking the intent of the law and it’s subverting the law,” says Dr Allen.

        The 1949 Forestry Act specifically forbids the export of any native timber unless it is a finished product, like the swamp kauri bowls and vases from veteran wood turner Rick Taylor. But Mr Taylor says there are loopholes in the law.

        “Yes, there’s ways around it; I won’t say any more. There is ways around getting stuff out of the country that isn’t raw timber. If I was going to send this piece of wood here I would put a smooth finish in it and finish it off, and probably call it a chopping block, which it is because the guy’s going to chop on it. What he does with it after that, it’s not my problem.”


        • goodsweat

          I’m not sure what your point is?

          The low-loaders used for transporting large diggers etc. I see stumps of kauri the size of a digger going south on those. The huge ancient stumps are either stockpiled or milled into large slabs that are laughingly referred to as ‘Bread Boards’ so that they can be classified as a finished product and shipped to China.

          Half a dozen Nga Puhi families could be making a handy living and adding value to that resource. A profitable business manufacturing a consumer product for consumption in China that isn’t out of a cow would put a smile on many Northlanders’ faces.

          There’s a small boutique mine over Dover’s way. The whitest and purest clay in the world. The world’s best ceramics manufacturers buy it. A mine on Dover’s turf! Shhhhhh.

          • joe90

            The law stipulates retrieved kauri to be exported as a value added product, yet illegal wholesale export continues to benefit a few well connected individuals and the best you can do is suggest Ngāpuhi should somehow compete with mainland Chinese producers.

            • goodsweat

              No, I suggest we make the most of the exclusivity of the resource. We stop a few people making millions by exporting huge bits of it through dodgy loopholes. If we’re going to dig the kauri up, the people that have owned most of it for the last 700 years should be benefiting from making the most of the resource.

          • weka

            “Half a dozen Nga Puhi families could be making a handy living and adding value to that resource. A profitable business manufacturing a consumer product for consumption in China that isn’t out of a cow would put a smile on many Northlanders’ faces.”

            FFS, it’s a non-renewable resource. Consumption in this case = depletion. It shouldn’t be being mined for proft. Northland families can’t make a decent living because the political economy forces them into situations that are exploitation based, not community/family fostering.

            • goodsweat

              Whether we dig it up or not is a separate issue.

              I’m suggesting if we do, we make the most of it.

              • Tracey

                Kind of like legalising poaching and encouraging more to do it? To make a bob or two?

                • weka

                  May as well burn all that coal while we’re at it.

                  In the 1800s people really believed that killing birds that we’re going extinct was a good idea do we would have specimens to stuff for posterity.

                  • Tracey

                    Well its just sitting there, crying out to be made into profit…

                    I can understand doing stuff for subsistence…

                    • weka

                      I can understand doing stuff for subistence too, and shame on NZ, as wealthy as it is ,for forcing people to make those choices.

                    • Tracey


                      But to deliberately advocate extinction for profit or destruction of taonga cos it conflicts with your own nworld view, predominantly based on profit making… Sigh

      • McFlock 15.1.3

        Forcing an employer to do the right thing by workers is a plan with it’s ethos in the same place as bosses forcing workers to jump through hoops.

        Not really. The power of government regulation comes from the people, as equals. The power of the employer is the power of capital against need, essentially feudalism continued.

        In the ideal scenario businesses would be doing the right thing by workers because it is the attractive and profitable path to walk. It would be good if market forces brought a good result about. This could happen when we see things like the employees at Burger X enjoying a profit share arrangement and burger buyers frequent Burger X because it’s always so clean and the staff seem genuinely friendly.

        Not profit-share, ownership-share.

        But then getting either for workers to any reasonable degree throughout the economy will never happen under market conditions. It needs government intervention.

      • Molly 15.1.4

        … let’s take the taonga of swamp kauri with it’s fine grain and unsurpassed quality and …. make chopsticks?!? My heart sank when I read this.

        The issue regarding Oravidas exporting of the kauri stumps is more than the willingness of the Chinese to purchase, it is a failure to recognise the value of the natural resources we possess unless someone else is willing to pay.

        There is value to the treasures we have that is not defined by marketing or sales.

        • goodsweat

          Yes Molly, I hear you. There is a strong case for letting it be. But if we are going to dig it up and sell it, shouldn’t we be making the most of it?

          • Molly

            Hi goodsweat,

            “But if we are going to dig it up and sell it, shouldn’t we be making the most of it?”
            My issue is with the and sell it – as if the only way to use natural resources is to sell or market them. In many cases – value added – means to put the price up and do little else, which is what you propose for the swamp kauri.

            I’m of the mind that sharing and appreciation of natural resources can be encouraged by simply refusing to go straight to that use as a first stop.

            I can envisage a whole generation of NZer’s bombarded by the the slick and honed consumerist culture, being given an opportunity to work with and appreciate the natural world by being given a piece of swamp kauri to work with and create with. In particular, the rangitahi who are currently engaged in traditional wood carving, or local woodturning or handbuilt groups.

            The opportunity of working with quality material often inspires past the process of creation. Leave the chopsticks to pinus radiata.

            An appreciation can only be developed for our natural resources, if it is shown.

            We don’t do that very well at the moment.

            • goodsweat

              Hi Molly, no argument here, I think you make good sense.

              We could also be considering use of renewable resources that are relatively exclusive or prolific here. Flax grows like Billio here, I don’t know what the global demand for Linseed Oil or linen might be but making the most of our resources doesn’t necessarily mean kissing them goodbye forever.

              It doesn’t seem that long ago we were mowing Manuka down for farmland, now I know of several planting it and reading about bees and Manuka Honey.

              • Tracey

                Sorry, all you get is ten minutes knocked off your journey to Auckland. Thats what your preferred govt thinks of northland

  16. NZJester 16

    If they don’t like the 0 hour contract they can always turn down the offer and stay on unemployment.
    Oh yeah that right turning down an offer of employment is a reason to take away your benefit.

    Welcome to Nationals new plan to hide the real unemployment figures in New Zealand.

  17. Craig H 17

    Isn’t a 0-hour (or similar) contract classed as part-time work, not full-time work, and consequently would not cost someone’s benefit if they refused it?

    • Colonial Rawshark 17.1

      one problem is that a single week of solid work on a zero hour contract is enough to screw someone’s benefit eligibility for a long time.

    • greywarshark 17.2

      @ Craig H
      Can someone answer this query with an anecdote or definite quote of the law as applied by WINZ to beneficiaries in this situation please? My understanding is turning down anything or walking out of an untenable situation loses you your benefit. But I don’t know if that is open to review. And how long before the review takes place, is decided on? I also understand that the benefit is cut immediately, but if reinstated may take a while, meanwhile you may be thrown out of housing, and be starving or begging or both.

  18. b waghorn 18

    Can bosses avoid kiwisaver contributions buy having workers on low or 0 hour contacts

  19. When Labour finally gets its act together there will be a political and social renaissance that will see the political right in NZ out on its corrupt backside for a couple of decades. It will be 1935 all over again. The depression of our hearts and souls will see some more great social reforms. And it will be ironically the great-grandson of Sir Walter Nash at the forefront too. I hope I live to see the successes in coming years. Knighthoods should be stripped from the corrupt ones and others made answerable in court.

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