Wee gripes: work stoppage stats

Written By: - Date published: 2:06 pm, January 22nd, 2010 - 6 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags:

NZPA is reporting that there were only four work stoppages in the last September quarter, making eighteen for the 2009 year to September. They then repeat the Stats NZ line that this figure is down on 2008.

So good news eh? Fewer strikes means a more contented workforce surely.

Except for the fact that the stats are a joke. In the period they are talking about there were stoppages due to strike action or lockouts involving Telecom workers, Open Country Cheese workers, Polytech workers, Bridgeman Concrete workers and Auckland Bus Drivers.

And those are just the ones I can name off the top of my head.

They also claim the total days of lost wages was 80. I’d say that the national strike by Telecom workers alone would run to at least five hundred days.

Part of the problem is there is no legal requirement to notify industrial action unless it’s in an essential industry so there’s no way Stats or the department of Labour can find out about most industrial action unless it comes up in the media. But each of these disputes was high-profile so you’d think they’d realise the numbers don’t hold water.

Mind you NZPA covered all of these disputes too. And now they’ve published stats that prove the disputes they covered must never have existed. How very postmodern.

6 comments on “Wee gripes: work stoppage stats”

  1. Con 1

    Even if the stats were accurate (which they clearly aren’t), fewer strikes doesn’t necessarily mean a more contented workforce at all. It might mean a more straitened and cautious workforce; a less organised and less militant workforce, etc.

    • IrishBill 1.1

      Yeah, I was being a little facetious. The “happy workers” argument used to be run by the last tory government every time the stoppage stats dropped.

  2. Michael Wood 2

    I’m not sure if this is the explanation, but the fineprint of the data does state that the measurement includes work stoppages that finished in the quarter. This may mean that a stoppage won’t be registered until a dispute is formally over, with the qualification possibly being that an Agreement is settled. I know for example that the Polytech dispute is ongoing, so it would not be included under these criteria.

    Not sure on this, but it might be the explanation. I think Stats NZ are generally pretty sound.

    • IrishBill 2.1

      Even if that’s the case I can think of several disputes involving industrial action that settled in that period including the Air New Zealand cabin crew dispute.

      That one included a couple of hundred workers taking several days of strike action. That would be a few more days lost than 80 I reckon.

      I think the problem isn’t Stats NZ but the department of labour.

  3. Bill 3

    They’re just counting smokos right?

    I mean, by rounding out the figures, if 1000 people = 80 lost days, then each person was responsible for 0.08 working days lost. There are 480 minutes to one working day. One tenth of that ( judicious rounding) = 48 minutes.

    Smoko breaks = 30 minutes of a working day.

    So if the 1000 workers were 9 seconds late coming back from each of their 120 smoko breaks over a three month period…we get the missing 18 minutes.

  4. Peter 4

    “How very postmodern.”

    Or how very Orwellian. Me thinks there might be a fiery memory hole burning away at the heart of government, gleefully stoked by the likes of Bully Bennett, Bulldozer Brownlee, and Double Dipton, while John Key relaxes himself in it.

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