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.