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Work – its precarious

Written By: - Date published: 10:51 am, August 9th, 2013 - 50 comments
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The Governments attack on workers pay seems even more nasty given the stats released this week that show wages stagnating as prices increase especially those prices that workers spend their money on – housing, power, food etc. But the changes to the ERA going through the house will also increase insecurity.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in a “think group” at the Whitlam Institute in Sydney with a group of very interesting people from NZ and OZ who are thinking about the issue of precarious work and various options for legal solutions to address it.

Actually one of the conclusions was that most workers these days are precarious. Traditionally we have used the definition to discuss casual, fixed term, labour hire, dependent contracting type work, but in reality because of the continual culture of restructuring in both countries, coupled with reductions of protections against dismissals and the impact on life choices of low wages, the term applies to a group much wider than those employed on non permanent contracts. Insecure work seems more appropriate.

The changes to employment security shift the risks of employment from the business to workers. Mainzeal was a very good example of this. The sight of the immediate resurrection of fences and posting of security guards to protect the incomplete building sites Mainzeal abandoned, for the banks, while the workers peered through the fences for their tools was typical. Many have not been paid for the labour they gave to Mainzeal and to the ultimate building owners that benefited from their work. They never will – what a risk they took accepting that work! These workers were contractors or employees of contractors.

There is a big stink at the moment with zero hours contracts in the UK. These are contracts that bind workers to an employer but without any guarantee of hours of work. They often contain restraints on the worker doing other work. We have a variety of these types of agreements in NZ.

Labour Hire I guess is the classic zero hour contract. You sign up with the company and are restricted from picking up work with the companies they deal with – which can exclude many of the natural employers a worker may preference. The wages paid are often below what the worker would receive if directly employed and the work offers no guaranteed hours.

However there are also many direct employees in employment agreements with no guaranteed hours – some do guarantee you the work when it is doable (e.g forestry – you get the work when it is on, but you are not paid for example if work is called off for bad weather). Others have casual hours with no guarantees. They may say something like “up to a maximum 30 hours per week” for example but have no guarantee. The First Union is reporting that some supermarkets, workers are being made more and more part-time as things slow down under these type agreements. Shifts are not regular in many of these jobs so even if you are only getting a few shifts a week, you can’t take on other work because you need to be available. Fast food work is a big offender.

I recently blogged on the Elderslea rest home in the Hutt that determined to remove all the permanent shifts and make workers casual – an example of how wide the precarious definition extends.

I don’t know the numbers but hundreds of teachers are now employed on fixed term agreements particularly new teachers – lots of it is illegal I expect (in breach of fixed term restrictions in the Employment Relations Act), and it is very damaging to new teachers effectively finishing off their training leading to registration – they are the first to go or have their hours reduced if the school role drops. This also represents a productivity loss to NZ. We train these teachers on the one hand with state money then exploit them on the other hand (with state money) putting the value of the training at risk. It is bad economics. A waste. A loss. Mr Joyce?

At the seminar I attended we discussed the massive impact all this insecure work has. We also agreed much of it is completely unnecessary and not only shifts the risk to the worker but is a cost to the community. These workers move in and out of work and on and off benefits creating huge administrative and other costs. Much of their work is subsidised by grants from the State to keep them afloat. They miss out on any training or development leaving NZ with an under-qualified workforce and poor productivity, and these are just the economic costs. There lives are dominated by work. Waiting for it, looking for it, meeting WINZ demands when they don’t have it. They don’t have paid holidays meaning they don’t have holidays at all, costing them family time. They often don’t have sick leave. They are vulnerable if asserting any rights or raising any concerns – they are having accidents and accepting low wages. They can’t make commitments – family time, own time, mortgages etc. The list goes on.

We then discussed the solutions – there are solutions and they are legitimate in regards the entitlement people should have to employment security when it is simply being denied to shift risk. Insecure work is a hazard (moral, economic and social). Hazards should be either eliminated where possible or if not isolated and minimised. This is the sort of approach needed here. Young people in particular are losing the concept that time is theirs. Some of it they use for work, some for other things.

Insecure work leaves the idea that they are not wanted, not valued, not really needed. It is corrosive. The idea that the change to the model of business in the service sector to a 24/7 model has resulted in less secure rather than more secure work is actually counter-intuitive but widely accepted. The changes to the ERA make work more insecure, create more of this, allowing more domination and removing further the concept of life beyond work.

The NZCTU will launch a campaign on this issue specifically at its conference in October. Our campaign against the employment law change is also underway – check out the rally dates on our website. Come and see the CTU petition presentation Thursday 22 August.

50 comments on “Work – its precarious ”

  1. xtasy 1

    Dear Helen, I quote you from the above, if I may:

    “There lives are dominated by work. Waiting for it, looking for it, meeting WINZ demands when they don’t have it. They don’t have paid holidays meaning they don’t have holidays at all, costing them family time. They often don’t have sick leave.”

    “At the seminar I attended we discussed the massive impact all this insecure work has. We also agreed much of it is completely unnecessary and not only shifts the risk to the worker but is a cost to the community. These workers move in and out of work and on and off benefits creating huge administrative and other costs. Much of their work is subsidised by grants from the State to keep them afloat. They miss out on any training or development leaving NZ with an under-qualified workforce and poor productivity, and these are just the economic costs.”

    In view of that, I must sincerely ask, how and why the hell did the CTU and your name ever get associated with the following statement on the “health benefits of work”, which is an agenda taken up by this government now as part of their welfare reforms, suggesting sick and disabled will benefit being put into open employment. Sadly the medical profession has also fallen for the supposed new “evidence” presented by one Professor Mansel Aylward from the UK, who is also supported by Work and Income’s Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt, who compares “benefit dependence” as being as harmful as “drug dependence”.

    Mansel Aylward was speaking at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, same as some New Zealand GP conferences over recent years, promoting his perverted “bio psycho-social model”, upon which governments in the UK, now also Australia and New Zealand base their justifications to usher or push sick and disabled into forms of work.

    ‘The Health Benefits of Work: From Consensus to Action
    Stakeholder Update- March 2012’

    http://www.racp.org.nz/download.cfm?downloadfile=33CA5716-08D2-4F9A-73904C9EBC4B9E66&typename=dmFile&fieldname=filename

    (see Helen Kelly’s name in this document)

    http://www.racp.org.nz/page/racp-faculties/australasian-faculty-of-occupational-and-environmental-medicine/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work/may-2010-video-presentation-professor-sir-mansel-aylward/

    Aylward’s presentation held in 2010.

    My concern about the above in my comment is: Did the CTU and Helen Kelly once sign up to some “policy agenda”, that ultimately has its roots in the bizarre theories of Professor Aylward, his colleague Gordon Waddell (both from that ominous ‘Unum Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research’ at Cardiff University) and a few others, selling us poorly supported and insufficiently researched, “findings” and theories on the health benefits of work, which are now going to be implemented by WINZ here in New Zealand?

    I would welcome Helen’s position on this, as she has in her article above clearly expressed the “precariousness” of casual, part time, term limited, low paid and thus unstable, unreliable jobs, which certainly cause a lot of harms to those forced to make a living off such work.

    Remember also Dr David Bratt and his extreme position on the harm caused by “worklessness” and the benefits of work:

    http://www.gpcme.co.nz/pdf/GP%20CME/Friday/C1%201515%20Bratt-Hawker.pdf

    • Helen Kelly 1.1

      Because there are health benefits of good work and the research is irrefutable. Ofcourse this will be misused by people like Paula Bennet to force solo mums into work against the interests of thier kids or themselves but this is not what we signed up to. The reserach into the health of communities where the main provider of work has collapsed is extreme – life expectancy, suicide etc. We promote employment and this is consistent with this. We havent bought into anyones theory of it and have been very clear about the circumstances where work is a benefit.

      • xtasy 1.1.1

        Helen Kelly – Thank you for your comment.

        The concern is that Mansel Aylward has had a lot of input into all these drives to get sick and disabled back into work, and his “research” department was established with the help of US insurance corporation Unum Provident, now commonly known as Unum Insurance, who naturally had an interest in promoting the ideas that Aylward spreads.

        That insurance company was sued repeatedly in the US for illegal practices and unfairly denying claimants insurance payouts, also using medical assessments that suited their interests.

        Aylward et al are certainly abusing the “bio psycho-social model”, that was initially designed and discussed by Engel in the US, but which delivers a complex and vague approach for assessing and treating long term sick and disabled. It is clearly abused by people like Aylward and Dr Bratt of MSD and WINZ, naturally keenly adopted by Paula Bennett and the present government, to shift as many off benefits as possible, and that will largely be into precarious work.

        We have learned through welfare reforms in the UK that much damage can be caused if the approach is being abused.

        http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/04/18/welfare-reform-the-hidden-agenda-by-mo-stewart/

        The RACP, and also the RNZCGP and other organisations may originally have had good intentions when adopting policies to get sick and disabled into work, but also they, I fear, are at risk of being used and abused by new government and insurance business’ agendas, which amount to primarily cost cutting exercises, putting their interests before the affected.

        Employers will have an interest in keeping staff healthy, but as we know, some do not give a damn about health and safety, fair conditions and pay. Also few if any will be seriously interested in hiring sick and disabled, if they cannot perform and deliver output that some healthy may struggle to achieve for them.

        But I trust that the intentions the CTU and you had and now have, are rather different to what we get imposed on us by this government.

      • xtasy 1.1.2

        “Because there are health benefits of good work and the research is irrefutable.”

        In view of that comment, I would like to invite Helen and others to have a read and study through the following comprehensive analysis, available here:

        http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

        I would agree that “suitable” work may be of benefit, I could agree that for some sick and disabled physical and mental activity is of benefit, but we have the government focused on getting those into OPEN employment, on a highly competitive job market, where fit and healthy struggle to get jobs.

        And the “evidence” I would argue is not necessarily irrefutable for open employment, unless that means the ones affected can enforce rights and decent working conditions, which are being chipped away anyway, as Helen has written about here.

      • xtasy 1.1.3

        An important extract from that analysis I recommended (on ACC Forum):

        “A Danish Report which contradicts some of the claims by Aylward, Waddell et al., and which delivers no real surprises, naturally from a country using a more progressive, fairer welfare system:

        More relevant research showing how the Danish welfare and insurance model offers more realistic, objective unsurprising data – and apparently better outcomes: “Transitions between sickness absence, work, unemployment, and disability, in Denmark 2004–2008”; by Jacob Pedersen, MSc, Jakob Bue Bjorner, MD, Hermann Burr, PhD, Karl Bang Christensen, PhD; Scand J Work Environ Health 2012, vol 38, no 6:

        http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=h%20eriksen%20models%20of%20sickness%20and%20disability&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&ved=0CDsQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sjweh.fi%2Fdownload.php%3Fabstract_id%3D3293%26file_nro%3D1&ei=uSzmUZWWI6LuiAfo74C4Bg&usg=AFQjCNF0IAD6Lnaxv_wJXBm4_XVyM4bepg

        “One of the keystones of the Nordic economic model is the flexible labor market, which is substantiated by a social security system that acts as a safety net when an employee becomes unemployed, sick-listed, or partly or permanently work disabled. This is often referred to as the “flexicurity model”.“ (p. 516)

        “Usually individuals are likely to shift between states several times over time, but in almost all research papers only one of these shifts or transitions is investigated. A larger model that includes all states at the same time is needed to attain a better understanding of transitions between several states, and in particular, how transitions influence later outcomes (7).“ (p. 517)

        “Discussion:
        The Danish Flexicurity model is founded on the flexible labor force and the social welfare system. The approach of the present paper determines the efficiency of the Danish flexicurity model in assisting people to return to the labor force after being sick-listed and possibly unemployed. It determines the flexicurity model’s ability to include people in the job market that have a chronic disease or are pregnant.”

        “The results show that Copenhagen in particular has a relative high labor force participation, which is unsurprising as Copenhagen has the largest population and the majority of the job market. The flow of the transitions shows that the Copenhagen region has difficulties getting people to return to work and a low probability of granting disability pension.”

        In comparison, the much less populated region of North Jutland has a relatively high probability of allocating disability pension. The differences between regions demonstrate the regional labor force difficulties that Denmark faces, in which younger people in particular, travel to the larger towns to find education and work.”

        “The flow between the states of work, sickness absence, and unemployment confirms the official numbers; most people on sick leave return to work strictly afterwards, a trend that was increasing during 2004–2008 [82.2% in 2004 and 84.0% in 2006 (16)]. In addition, less people became unemployed after sick leave (7.3% in 2004 and 6.1% in 2008).”

        “The results on age groups show that young people have a high risk of becoming unemployed after sicklisting, and that people >40 years have an increased risk of becoming unemployed and attaining disability pension. The elderly becoming work disabled is probably a consequence of a long working life and physical and mental disabilities concerning the working environment. The high probability of unemployment after sickness absence is an example of one of the core elements of the Danish flexicurity model, which entails a relative easy procedure for an employer who wants to lay off a sick-listed employee (17, 2).”

        “The results cannot be transferred directly to other countries because of the high influence of Danish laws and regulations concerning the job market and social payments. In addition, the results cannot be generalized to the entire work force, as the analyses only include sick-listed persons, yet the importance of economic coverage when an employee gets sick-listed is explicit.” (Pages 524 to 525)

        Summarised conclusion:
        This paper by ‘Pedersen et al’ shows that movements onto benefits are usually not just heading into one direction, but that most who suffer sickness actually return to work and stay in work, although there is a higher risk to return to periods of ill health, if one such period has occurred. That though may simply mean that once a more serious health issue develops, this often leads to further deterioration over time.

        In Denmark movements appear quite normal and explainable, and with a fairer welfare system, good health system, where better benefits and conditions are offered, there is more participation in the work force.

        One wonders, how would things look like in the UK or New Zealand, when sick and disabled would be treated with respect, treated well and get paid benefits that allow persons to recover and return to some acceptable, suitable work, rather than being punished with low benefits, low (minimum) wages and draconian sanctions to comply with pressures to take on jobs the welfare agencies may consider “suitable”!”

    • srylands 1.2

      Insecure work is a real threat to social cohesion. Being self employed and contracting with multiple clients works well for higher income earners who welcome the flexibility. However pressuring people into such a contractual arrangement is disastrous for people who don’t want it, especially people with kids.

      • Puddleglum 1.2.1

        Agreed.

        Social cohesion requires repeated and stable interactions between people. In the past this used to be largely found in either relatively stable nomadic groups within a set region or settled villages where the same people were located for life and their ‘means of production’ was very much ‘on site’.

        Industrial towns and mining towns in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries maintained social cohesion partly because work was stable and local.

        Today, the closest situation many people have to a socially cohesive experience is the workplace, which is often a long distance from where they live. Neighbourhoods – especially in New Zealand – are increasingly transient mixes of people. We have a very high rate of residential mobility (see Census figures for 1991 through to 2006).

        But now the workplace is itself an increasingly transient site for social interaction – people coming and going rapidly and, on a day to day basis, different and unpredictable mixes of people.

        It’s therefore unsurprising that the main reason that New Zealand came out so low in the rankings on the recent Sovereign Well-Being Survey was because of New Zealand’s very low level of social connectedness.

        Production requires the successful reproduction of people and social settings. Reproduction – of anything (individuals, community, society, organisations, businesses) – requires, in turn, relatively stable and predictable conditions if it is to be reliably achieved (that’s presumably why business people always want a stable and predictable policy environment).

        Put simply, our ‘system’ prioritises production over reproduction. We organise ourselves almost completely around the former and the latter simply has to make the best out of a bad situation. That imbalance ignores the obvious inter-relationship between the two processes.

        That imbalance is also one of the main reasons why many peoples’ experiences of life in ‘developed economies’ are not particularly positive.

        • xtasy 1.2.1.1

          Puddleglum – I cherish your insight!

          “It’s therefore unsurprising that the main reason that New Zealand came out so low in the rankings on the recent Sovereign Well-Being Survey was because of New Zealand’s very low level of social connectedness.”

          “That imbalance is also one of the main reasons why many peoples’ experiences of life in ‘developed economies’ are not particularly positive.”

          Social cohesion is being destroyed all over the globe, whether here, in Europe, in China, where in the latter place masses of migrant labour are increasingly becoming alienated to their “roots” or home regions.

          Humans are increasingly becoming “commoditised”, if that is the suitable or correct word for it. Despite of all the modern technology to facilitate easier and faster communication, humans seem to get more disconnected. It is a strange phenomenon and a real worry.

      • Naturesong 1.2.2

        Logical, evidence based policy.
        You’ll be voting green in 2014 then?

        Edit: Puddlegum; nailed it.

  2. richard 2

    I am looking forward to the campaign naming and shaming all the employers who use zero hour and casualised contracts, similar to what the Guardian is doing in the UK – http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/zero-hours-contracts

  3. blue leopard 3

    It seems that our respective societies have made no attempt to make adjustment for the ‘labour saving effects’ that technology has provided.

    This has created both the problems of income disparity and high levels of unemployment. Two of the biggest problems in the Western world today*.

    That there seems to be a veritable war on those without jobs, and an active attempt to degenerate conditions for those with jobs, this omission to address the issues that labour-saving technology is creating is making what was utter incompetence on the part of successive governments really quite evil; entirely unacceptable.

    It is time that the goons in western governments faced this problem head on, when this is done a lot of other problems we have been struggling with may well disappear.

    *(Had this problem been addressed, there may well have been less problem with pollution and human effects on climate. These have been caused by some people having too much political power, due too their vast stores of wealth, leading to ‘big money’ interests being pursued and other more important interests that our societies have – like livelihoods and healthy non-toxic environments – being shafted)

  4. Populuxe1 4

    Fair enough, but there has to also be a balance with the desire of younger people, freelancers especially, to still have the flexibility to move around from position to position picking up skills and experiences along the way. Newer generations typically want diversity and feel less attatchment to particular employers or places. I would not support any move that woukld eliminate that sort of short contract altogether.

  5. tracey 5

    a friend of mine is with an agency. she has a masters degree. she is currently working in a large firm. she receives 17.5 per hour. the agency gets 30 plus gst per hour.

    • BM 5.1

      Whats the problem with that?
      Do you think these agencies should do it for free? .

      An issue I do have with agencies is if your friend got offered a full time position by this firm, the firm would have to shell out a 3-4k finders fee to the agency.

      Unless you’re particularly spectacular most companies really aren’t willing to fork over this sort of dosh.

      • Naturesong 5.1.1

        It’s now clear to me why some folks on this site fire abuse your way;

        Employee gets $17.50 p/h
        Ticket clipper gets ($30.00 p/h × 0.+15%) $34.50 p/h
        and is often contractually restrained from offering employment to the person performing the work.

        So the firm ends up paying 3-4k of dosh 4 to 6 weeks.

        Money for jam, as we used say in the business.

      • Foreign Waka 5.1.2

        You are missing the point. Essentially, someone is making money on the efforts, skills and knowledge of another person in such way that it can be seen as exploitation and a breach of human rights. There is in effect no difference to a diamond mine where the exploitation is taken a few notches higher. If the employer is happy to pay $30 why not pay the employee $ 25.00? Ohh yes, ACC, employer levy, sick and holiday leave. Greed has no bounds and it seems that the immoral and unethical behavior, the disregard for life and people is becoming en vogue everywhere.

        • BM 5.1.2.1

          Total bull shit.
          You have no idea what you’re talking about, go start a business and see how it really works.
          Can tell you now you’d soon change your tune and you wouldn’t be writing such crap.

          Employees have no idea what’s involved or how much works required to keep a business a float.

          • Foreign Waka 5.1.2.1.1

            You are a bit presumptuous – and yes, I know about running a business with a number of employees. Working 80 hours or more is the norm. But this was a choice about my life and not others. The issue at hand is about personal conduct and integrity. I am not saying that you exploit this person in question but the agency and the employer sure do. At no point can one justify that there is a need for a middleman who essentially costs the same as if you employ the person yourself. BS all the same on that account.
            The human side is that the person is hired like equipment, cost is seemingly not the subject but “flexibility” is. So there would be even more ground to offer a term contract at fair pay. Considering that the Lady has a masters degree she should get paid accordingly. No matter at what angle, it is exploitation.

            • BM 5.1.2.1.1.1

              It’s irrelevant if she’s got a masters or not.

              What ever she’s doing, could be just receptionist work, the facts are, people are only willing to pay $30.00 an hour for this particular service.

              What do you think of tradesmen getting charged out at $60.00 an hour and getting paid $30.00 are they getting ripped off?

              • Foreign Waka

                “What ever she’s doing, could be just receptionist work, the facts are, people are only willing to pay $30.00 an hour for this particular service.”
                Yes, indeed, to a third party in the same way you would like a hire a piece of equipment.The person actually working sees $17.50. This is more about contacting obligations of ACC etc out.
                “It’s irrelevant if she’s got a masters or not.”
                This is precisely the reason NZ is in such a state, the attitude towards higher learning, better ideas and design, conversion into practical applications (i.e engineering) and production. Ahh, yes the cost, there is no quick return and so its worthless. Yeah right.

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.1.2

            You have no idea what you’re talking about, go start a business and see how it really works.

            Many sectors of the economy are being starved of money at the moment.

            A few at the top creaming it, often the same wealthy corporations getting multi-million dollar bailouts. Why don’t ordinary people get bailouts?

      • xtasy 5.1.3

        BM –

        This is part of the problem with that!

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10893823

        We have WINZ outsource the difficult job, and pay fees, and that for performance of course, that is the agency, to get people into jobs, sick, disabled or sole parent, whomsoever.

        Now the “motivator” to the agents will be that honey dripping nice FEE, watched with glee, to get their bloody slimy hands on, no matter what.

        If the job does not match the abilities and needs of the “client”, short cuts will be made, “strong arm” tactics used, to get that much desired “fee”!

        Why the hell is WINZ not able to do the job? Because no employer is damned interested to hire a person with serious illness or disability, and the only incentive is a subsidy PLUS such agencies (like “The Wise Group” and their “Workwise” brigade for instance) get paid, AND the employer will also get paid. So once that has been sucked up, and the undeperforming sick or disabled is not “profitable” enough, she or he will be shifted back to the WINZ office, to face another recycling of the same!

        Without law changes, culture changes and more, nothing will be achieved!

        So stuff the “middle man” and “middle woman”, thank you.

    • muzza 5.2

      Tracey if that is correct, your friend needs to manage this situation, as running at close to 100% to the agency, is not on.

      Is your friend an experienced contract worker? By that I mean used to dealing with agencies trying to rip you off, and knowing how to handle them?

      For non preferred supplier list agencies, I would say that anything over 20%, has the worker is being taken for a ride, big time.

  6. tracey 6

    populuxe. do you base that on your own experience cos mine is that younger folks first want regular work, fair pay first and foremost

  7. Papa Tuanuku 7

    precarious is a great word. I would suggest another word though as precarious isn’t really high frequency enough, great for academics but not really something many 18 year olds would use. unstable?

    • Naturesong 7.1

      It is in common usage these days.

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precariat

      School leavers with a brain, or connected to the social media hive are well aware of the meaning and implications.

    • bad12 7.2

      Should call it for what it is, ‘Rotational employment’, the Neo-Liberal agenda still hard and fast at work in our lives,

      Labour, as in unskilled, without the degree from university, which is how the divide has been decided, simply gets rotated, the lower down the ‘food-chain’ of employment the more ‘rotational’ that employment will become…

      • xtasy 7.2.1

        bad12

        “Should call it for what it is, ‘Rotational employment’..”

        Yes, you got it, hit right at target!

  8. “Insecure work is a hazard (moral, economic and social). Hazards should be either eliminated where possible or if not isolated and minimised.”

    Exactly. There are plenty of ways insecure work is getting ingrained in the system, for instance I am a tour guide, employed when they need a tour at minimum remuneration so that is insecure, this winter they closed shop and I have had to find other work, that is also insecure, which has proven difficult, so I get a part-time role driving taxis in a rural area and that is insecure. That whole scenario has no security and no guarantee of income. It is insecure work and a hazard not just to me and my whānau but to society.

  9. johnm 9

    Workers’ rights including safety:
    “No justice for New Zealand mine disaster victims’ families”
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/08/pike-a08.html

    Quite horrifying Greed killed these miners if only someone could have said; ” Whoa! Stop! let’s get the safety right first then we do the production!”
    Another NeoLiberal obscenity: shareholders are more important than workers complete arse about face.:-(

    The Privatisation madness continues against the people’s express protests:

    “Billion-pound NHS contract offered to private health care providers” In the U$K
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/08/camb-a08.html

  10. johnm 10

    Zero hours – another weapon in the bosses’ arsenal
    “Bosses can employ agency workers on lower pay and worse conditions than other workers—then sack them before they’re entitled to any rights.”

    “Zero hours contracts are making life a misery for hundreds of thousands of workers in Britain.
    The contracts don’t guarantee workers a set number of hours. Instead they give bosses power to alter hours on a daily or weekly basis. This means workers never know how much money they will have coming in from one week to the next.

    A Resolution Foundation report on zero hours contracts published in June detailed the ways in which they make workers’ lives more stressful.

    “You have to be really careful with money,” said one worker in Brighton. “I try to save to cover the possibility that my hours will be low one week but it’s hard as the pay isn’t fantastic to start with.”

    http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/34050/Does+zero+hours+mean+zero+power%3F

  11. Lefty 11

    The solution is not to pretend we can go back in time to when we all had a job for life, or to try to continue to perpetrate the myth that there is such a thing as a ‘good’ employer (outside a cemetery that is), or that there can be a capitalism that serves workers.

    The truth is that even in times of high employment and award wages, going to work was simply wage slavery disguised as something better simply because the slaves were better looked after than in some other times and places in history.

    To move forward we need to become much clearer on the difference between work which is necessary (and not always paid for at present), and jobs, which are about generating profit for someone.

    We can then sever the connection between jobs and income by paying everyone a Universal Basic Income freeing them up to do socially necessary work, creative activities and leisure activities according to their needs and abilities.

    Once workers are freed from having to do a job to survive they can make employers who want to profit from them bid for the privilige of their labour , the same as they have to for any other commodity.

    They would pretty soon start having to pay a lot more as people would demand it be made it worth their while to allow any surplus labour to be extracted from them.

    The employing class would end up unnecessary and become redundant and the jobs now done by employees would be done by workers who up their own enterprises and set their own rates of pay.

    The challenge for the left, including unions ,is to start building the forces to bring about this sort of change rather than desperately trying to keep the failed social democrat experiment alive.

    • Mike S 11.1

      +1

      A universal basic income, which is enough to live on, is a surefire way to raise wages,lower inequality, reduce poverty, reduce stress and allow people to be more in control of their lives. It’s just impossible to get most people to open their heads and see that.

    • halfcrown 11.2

      I agree with you Lefty, but can you honestly see the Neo Liberals and shit on the right agreeing with that?

      Guy Standing in his book “The Precariat The New Dangerous Class” also said this is something that has to be done.

      I cannot see that happening in my life time,unless we have a modern French type Revolution because it is all about “control” the right love. “Do as I say or you will starve etc etc”. The right would hate to lose control, after working so hard to get us in this position over the last few decades.

      • Lefty 11.2.1

        Yep.

        It will take a revolution.

        Thats ok with me.

      • Mike S 11.2.2

        I reckon one of the reasons they don’t like the idea is that it puts everyone on an equal start out footing. (Every person would get the universal basic income, including the well off). This means they couldn’t blame the beneficiaries for all of our economic woes as they do at the moment because they’d be getting exactly the same UBI as everyone else. With no more bene bashing they’d have to look at their own failed economic policies and ass kissing of rent seekers.

  12. BLiP 12

    Surely as well as work being precarious so too is the theological theoretical models which under pin the functioning of the economy. The deaths, injuries, and overt exploitation of workers speaks to the physical and financial precariousness of providing one’s labour, but don’t the beliefs which result in such danger seem equally exposed to sudden and violent end because they are without logic and bereft of on-going evidence-based analysis and reconsideration? It amazes me that every time the economy does collapse, those in political and economic leadership positions stumble around picking up the pieces and reassembling a similar set of circumstances doomed to result in another collapse. Einstein said such behaviour defined insanity.

    Of concern is a new development in the beliefs which drive this bust-boom-bust cycle: the overt, widespread, even celebrated (in some circles), process of dehumanisation. This dehumanisation was made abundantly apparent, I suggest, the day when the “Personnel Department” became the “Human Resources Division”. The fact that word “Human” is right next door to the word “Resources” carries all sorts of unexamined assumptions and linguistic chicanery, “work will set you free”, and all that. The resulting exposure of the philosophy contained in the new label highlights that workers are fit only for placement into contrived bully-boy no-win confrontational take-it or leave-it situations, and, even worse, reduced in status to that, for example, of a pile of sand in a cement factory, or a forklift in a warehouse. Actually, probably lower in status to a forklift because a forklift has more chance of working every day than those who operate it. True fact.

    While there are many people as skilled and as principled as Helen Kelly working to change, or at least mitigate, our current circumstances, its quite possible their work will be completed by the sudden arrival of an economic or environmental or societal catastrophe. Pike River, Fonterra, filthy rivers, Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae, a return to endmic poverty in a land of plenty, the pillorying of the unemployed, and the systematic application of mendacity in government are a few of the warning signs. Perhaps a real catastrophe is actually what’s needed to generate that edge of chaos, critical mass required inform those New Zealanders who have swapped their citizen status for the comfort of pampered consumers with “choice”: white iPhone case, or blue, clean water in Aotearoa or a billion tonnes of baby formula delivered to China. You choose.

    /flu medicine imbued rant.

    • Mike S 12.1

      Yep, quite often change, in particular drastic change such as that which is required for the world’s economic and monetary system, is only brought about due to some sort of catastrophe.

      I reckon dehumanisation began with whichever arsehole back in the day came up with the idea that you have to “earn a living” . As if somehow slaving away making money for someone else is required just so you can live. What a c**t.

      • Walt 12.1.1

        so you would rather have others pay your way in life. That’s what the left love, others paying for there way in life.

        Don’t worry the tax payer will pay to house and feed you, as we do for a lot of lazy dropkicks.
        Most people are poor and unemployed because they want to be and have made choices to be that way.

        • xtasy 12.1.1.1

          Welcome “Walt” Disney from Nethergrounds –

          “Most people are poor and unemployed because they want to be and have made choices to be that way.”

          This is the most idiotic comment in this thread, I award you with the “John Key Happy Muppet Award” for 2013!

        • BLiP 12.1.1.2

          so you would rather have others pay your way in life. That’s what the left love, others paying for there way in life.

          Don’t worry the tax payer will pay to house and feed you, as we do for a lot of lazy dropkicks. Most people are poor and unemployed because they want to be and have made choices to be that way.

          The poor and the unemployed are also tax payers and, in New Zealand, generally speaking, most people are not poor or unemployed. Also, Mike S didn’t mention his own employment situation or financial circumstances.

          The unconscious inventing of facts in order to feel justified in dishing out abuse and unwarranted blame seems a tad odd, but, alas, not at all surprising in 2013 New Zealand. Just the other day, John Key did, pretty much, what you just did in response to someone with the temerity to publicly oppose one of his policies. I can’t see what it is about discussing the precarious nature of work which caused the spontaneous exposure of your inner turmoil, but, hey, if you ever want to talk or just have an internet cuddle, I’m here for you, Walt. Your pain is my pain.

        • halfcrown 12.1.1.3

          “so you would rather have others pay your way in life. That’s what the left love, others paying for there way in life.”

          What’s new, The right have always had the attitude that they had the right to everything. Preach “stand on your own two feet, rugged individualism”, but always first at the tax payer trough with all feet in when there is something going.
          Like 30 mil for Rio, Warner Brothers and Jackson, Thatchers funeral, wedding of the well heeled couple William & Kate, bail out of GM who have paid little or no tax, bail out of the overfat banksters, That’s just a few that come to mind without really trying.

          I was also wondering how long it would be before we had someone from the right answer with the same tired hackneyed slogans like it is life style choices. Typical and so predictable, nothing new to add, no practical solutions to the worlds problems, just the typical stuff you Jack I’m alright, and as usual the lazy left are after my hard earned (debatable) dollars.

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.2

        If you think that an apocalyptic event is going to successfully spur the apathetic sheeple to save themselves from the slaughter, think again. That kind of belief is the same kind of hope that the “end times” will bring its own salvation.

        65% youth unemployment in Greece. Same old austerity and kowtowing to the banksters continues, even after all the years of riots and strikes. Starve the poor to feed the rich.

  13. johnm 14

    “Work without dignity”
    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/136336

    ” Quite simply a zero-hours contract is the perfect exploitative relationship for an employer to have towards an employee.

    The employee has no notion of their likely income and is unable to plan their life in any way or take any other work.

    If they rely on benefits they face the nightmare of having to claim a different amount every week.

    The employee also has no rights. Thanks to the Con-Dems workers have to be employed for two years before they can take an unfair dismissal case to an employment tribunal, but whether zero-hours staff can even do this is unclear, since their legal status – employee, worker or self-employed – is often murky.

    These conditions are the scourge of our age. It is a crying shame that while the last Parliament did manage to regulate employment agencies to some extent and introduced the gangmasters legislation, it did nothing to outlaw zero-hours contracts or give trade unions in Britain the same level of protection they enjoy elsewhere in Europe. ”

    “We are joining the “race to the bottom” in terms of rights at work and the “flexible labour force” so beloved of Peter Mandelson and his new Labour acolytes. ”

    “This is a sort of dreamland for Chancellor George Osborne, whose ideal is an economy in which workers’ insecurity boosts profits for business. “

    • xtasy 14.1

      Extract from that article:

      “However, one person’s misery seems to be another person’s success in the new Britain.”

      Shocking, and one could easily replace the word “Britain” with “New Zealand”, as we are heading there at a fast pace under this government.

      How many more will in future develop mental illness and other health issues by applying such contracts?

      But “work is good for your health”, without qualifying that much, that is what we are now getting preached by the converted perverts like Bennett and her lackeys at MSD and WINZ.

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