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The Right’s crocodile tears for higher pay

Written By: - Date published: 11:58 am, October 20th, 2011 - 31 comments
Categories: class war, Unions, wages - Tags:

It’s disappointing to see the Dom joining with the Right’s mouthpieces in attacking Labour’s work and wages policy. The editorial says of course “something” must be done about low and inequitable wages but opposes introducing a system modeled on the one that delivers high wages in Australia. Meanwhile bosses are putting the screws on to cut workers’ pay.

The Dom’s editorial is really odd when you think about it. Because it concedes all Labour’s reasons are justified:

In support of Labour’s policy, Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly has pointed to the growing disparity between the incomes of chief executives and workers.

She has a point. It is absurd that TVNZ chief executive Rick Ellis and the next two highest-paid employees at the state-owned broadcaster earned more between them last year than the $2 million the company reported in profit.

It is absurd that Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds’ 2009 earnings of more than $7 million were 165 times greater than the earnings of a Telecom lineman. And it is even more absurd that the bankers who caused the global financial crisis are again being rewarded for their reckless conduct with eight-figure salaries and bonuses…

…A case can be made, too, for increasing worker negotiating power. Wages have not kept pace with productivity increases since the Employment Contracts Act broke union muscle in 1991.

But then it dismisses the solution that works in Australia and, weirdly, says:

The only winners from Labour’s work and wages policy, unveiled on Tuesday, will be unions, which can expect a temporary increase in members and influence.

Um. The point is that industry standards apply to non-unionised workers. In fact, unionised workers are doing relatively well. Nearly all of us have had some form of pay rise in recent years. Most non-union workers have not. And union workers tend to be on higher pay to start with. It’s non-union workers who are missing out, and that starts a race to the bottom that hurts everyone’s pay.

The Dom continues:

The consequence of hiking the minimum wage from $13 to $15 an hour, as Labour is proposing to do, will be to deny more unskilled young job seekers the opportunity to get a foot on the job ladder.

– Even the Department of Labour admits it has no evidence of reasonable increases in the minimum wage causing unemployment. It just has a model that predicts 4,000 fewer jobs would be created if the minimum wage went to $15 an hour. There is no empirical proof of that model. Labour raised the minimum wage by 71% last time and youth unemployment fell.

The consequence of telling international film producers it is our way or the highway will be for them to pack their bags.

– bollocks. We got scammed by Warner Bros and Peter Jackson. The Dom itself has revealed many of the facts behind the scam after the fact.

And the consequence of requiring all employers in an industry to offer the same minimum set of terms and conditions will be to ship more jobs off overseas.

– Where to? Australia? Where they have those standards? Or Europe, where they have those standards? And doesn’t that logic apply to any and all wage rises? Is the Dom running the Tory line of always saying wage rises would be good but opposing any actual wage rises as unaffordable?

I note that the argument that we can’t have high wages because it will force jobs offshore is never applied to people on high pay like CEOs and newspaper editors. Funny that.

The Dom doesn’t offer any solutions, just saying:

If workers are to be given more negotiating power, it must be within enterprises, not across them.

Whatever that means. I didn’t see the Dom writing scathing editorials against National’s attacks on the bargaining power of workers within workplaces such as Fire at Will, the Hobbit law, and the attacks on unions’ ability to access sites.

Meanwhile, things are getting nasty at CMP Rangitikei. The company is trying to cut workers’ pay by 20%. The workers have refused to agree. So the company has locked them out. It calculates that it can afford the lost production more than they can afford the lost pay. It is planning to starve out its own workers so it can cut wages.

I wonder if the Dom will write an editorial about that.

31 comments on “The Right’s crocodile tears for higher pay”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    “It just has a model that predicts 4,000 fewer jobs would be created if the minimum wage went to $15 an hour. There is no empirical proof of that model. ”

    Which means that actually there could be 40,000 fewer jobs. Own goal there, Eddie.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Except that the empirical evidence is starting to show that increases in minimum wage increase employment. As you know.

    • Blighty 1.2

      that’s a bit silly, lanthe. It’s for the people making the claim to present evidence. In the absence of evidence, the null hypothesis presides.

      • Lanthanide 1.2.1

        I think the stronger argument is:

        The government department that is tasked with coming up with advice to the government, thinks that only 4,000 jobs would be lost. That’s hardly the economy-wrecking figure that some pundits would like to have you believe.

        Leave it up to others to point out the flaw in this argument.

    • Colonial Viper 1.3

      Which means that actually there could be 40,000 fewer jobs. Own goal there, Eddie.

      Or 400,000 fewer jobs. Or 4,000,000 fewer jobs.

      Fact of the matter is though, even with 4,000 fewer jobs it pumps far more money into working class neighbourhoods which need it.

      And with more discretionary income to be spent into the economy instead of hoarded by capitalist owners or invested overseas or put into unproductive property, SMEs in general will prosper.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    Whatever that means.

    What that means is that the editor at the Dom thinks that workers should remain ignorant of the actual market rate of the work they do and, thus, powerless to negotiate a proper wage.

    I wonder if the Dom will write an editorial about that.

    Probably but it’ll be in praise of the “patience” and “goodwill” of the management and scathing of the workers.

  3. The Press Editorial was no better, as I pointed out here.

    In fact, it was worse – not even an acknowledgment that something might need fixing. Just some stuff that unions ‘allege’, etc..

  4. queenstfarmer 4

    An insightful editorial by the Dom.

    “The consequence of telling international film producers it is our way or the highway will be for them to pack their bags.”

    – bollocks.

    Not bollocks. It’s true and very nearly happened.

    • felix 4.1

      Only in the game, framer. Only in the game.

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      Not bollocks. It’s true and very nearly happened.

      So dickhead, where was Jackson and the studios going to move the movie too? Fully unionised Australia? Fully unionised North America? Fully unionised UK?

      Frankly, you are defending a crowd who wants our workers to get LESS than every other successful film centre in the world, and lackeys like you SUPPORT THAT.

      • queenstfarmer 4.2.1

        where was Jackson and the studios going to move the movie too? Fully unionised Australia? Fully unionised North America? Fully unionised UK?

        Quite possibly, yes. I am glad we actually didn’t have to find out, even though you may not be.

        • Colonial Viper

          being fully unionised seems like a real competitive advantage in that case.

          That’s why I support full unionisation of the NZ entertainment and film industry.

          You know what I’m not glad of? That Key and Jackson colluded to send millions of extra tax payers dollars to a Hollywood studio.

          Bet you Jackson will get a nice big bonus from that Hollywood studio for his efforts.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      It never came close to happening. The Hobbit was never going anywhere else.

      Besides, why are we subsidising international film producers who so obviously don’t need it. I’d much prefer it if we just subsidised our own film producers who do need it.

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.1

        Jackson has asserted a very high level of control over the NZ film industry and giving his projects even more subsidies only consolidates his position as the five hundred pound gorilla setting the standards and norms for everyone else.

      • queenstfarmer 4.3.2

        Besides, why are we subsidising international film producers who so obviously don’t need it.

        Missing the point. It’s not about what they need (or don’t need). It’s about what the country needs. Sticking it to the studios, which is what the union thought it could do, was not what the country needed.

        • Colonial Viper

          bullshit. Sticking it to the studios was exactly what was needed, especially since that traitor Jackson engineered a situation to guarantee that NZ workers would be paid less and treated to inferior working conditions compared to foreign (unionised) crew and actors.

          Keep pushing for capitalist profits at the expense of workers wages mate.

          • King Kong

            Too right CV.

            If some NZ actors cant have higher pay and conditions then no one in the NZ film industry should get any pay. Shut the lot down.

          • queenstfarmer

            I love that conspiracy theory. So, was Jackson and the studio in cahoots with the union? Or was the union so stupid that it got perfectly manipulated into doing the dastardly Jackson’s bidding?

        • Draco T Bastard

          If the country needs to make films that much then giving the money to NZ firms to do the entire job with all the proceeds from the sale/viewing of those films coming to NZ would have been better than giving it to foreign film companies with the proceeds going to those companies.

          • mik e

            Even Jackson got ripped off by these studios to the tune of $360million in royalties no he’s telling the unions to suck eggs

    • McFlock 4.4


  5. Back in June, I randomly checked out the profits of a cross-section of New Zealand businesses and discovered that there was an average increase in profits of around 20% http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.com/2011/06/median-wage-drops-while-company-profits.html

    This percentage was also reflected in the increase in wealth of our wealthiest New Zealanders. http://www.3news.co.nz/NBR-Rich-List-2011—NZs-wealthy-doing-just-fine/tabid/423/articleID/220356/Default.aspx

    To deny New Zealand workers wage increases that keep up with inflation and living costs is verging on criminal. When many low waged workers need to have their wages supplemented by benefits we are subsidising large businesses who can actually afford to to pay more.

    Some say we need to keep wages down to support small business who aren’t doing as well as the corporates and yet if wages increased there would be more spending domestically and small businesses will have increased profits. We appear to desperately follow the US economic model, but I would have thought huge warning bells would be ringing in the ears of our local decision makers given the current crisis over there.

  6. Blue 6

    You will never find a Kiwi newspaper with a positive thing to say about unions and/or anything designed to have a similar effect.

    Why? Because journalism is a highly unionised profession.

    Those who write the editorials loathe having to deal with their unionised staff.

  7. Irascible 7

    I notice the Herald has editorialised the opinion that Labour’s policy would be a return to the “bad old days”. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10760282
    With each hysterical editorial I’m reminded of the response in a Bruce the Barbarian cartoon. to an outpouring of hysterical response to a Labour Party policy… The Times hates it! The Mail reckons it is terrible.. etc.. IT MUST BE GOOD!!!!

  8. marsman 8

    EDDIE the Dom IS one of the Right’s mouthpieces, it’s proved that time and time again. They have the gall to call themselves fair and balanced!

  9. lprent 9

    The DomPost simply aren’t that good a newspaper these days. As soon as it gets down to details they get confused.

    Case in point – they don’t know their left from their right as a sharp eyed reader points out….

    With a confusion about left and right like that, I guess they may have been calling the election for Labour rather than National all year. We just didn’t pick up on how severe their confusion was.


  10. hemebond 10

    Where to? Australia? Where they have those standards? Or Europe, where they have those standards?

    I would assume China, where our manufacturing jobs tend to go.

  11. Rodel 11

    Christchurch Press- Front page -big headlines (on Wednesday I think).. National will make Kiwi saver compulsory… actually they might make it temporarily compulsory…. well if they get to a surplus….. well actually maybe in 2014 or sometime..maybe.. Front page headlines!!!

    Same paper, same day Labour announces an employment/ wages policy of huge significance… buried on page 8.
    The media’s playing field is not level.

    • RobM 11.1

      I only read the papers online and Stuff led with the Kiwi saver surplus and the Labour policy was buried down the page.

      Couldn’t even find the Labour announcement on NZ Herald. Kiwi Saver conscription at the top. Appeared a couple of hours later.

    • Puddleglum 11.2

      Yes, I noticed (and noted) that too.

      The Labour announcement was page 8, top left, small article, above a large ad and outside the automatic perceptual ‘scan’ area – you had to systematically scan the entire page to even see it.

      Given the scathing editorial that followed, today, it makes you wonder why the original announcement had such low billing.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.3

      The MSM is Nationals propaganda channel.

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