Workers, unions and the Labour party

Written By: - Date published: 9:16 am, October 23rd, 2016 - 198 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, labour, Unions - Tags: , ,

Convincing workers not to organise in their own best interests is one of the great successes of right-wing politics. Bryce Edwards looks at some of the issues – The future of the unions

Unions are struggling to survive amid public perceptions that they are irrelevant, backward and belong to the past.

Not sure why a supposed leftie like Edwards buys in to this framing so easily.

The public isn’t necessarily convinced about unions. According to UMR’s 2016 Mood of the Nation report, unions are the second least trusted institution – with only 30 per cent of those surveyed having confidence. This is more than the media (26%), but less than big business (31%), churches (33%), and banks (44%).

So unions are within margin of error of media, big business, and churches? How awful.

Kelly was a talented leader but the hard reality of union health remains grim. The movement she led has been barely holding its own after a catastrophic collapse in the 1990s.

While the economic reforms took their toll, there is no doubt the Employment Contracts Act of 1991 had a massive direct impact.

Yes, the undermining of the unions was a deliberate act, part of the neoliberal gutting of NZ. The political right hate unions because they protect working conditions, and raise wages – even today.
Do collective agreements give bigger pay rises?
2.1 Times More Likely to get a pay rise…
Public education workers benefit from union membership
Why the Right wants to deny that unions increase wages

The failure of the union movement to engage with younger workers may be the biggest problem.

Well we agree on that at least. Edwards then goes on to list many successful union campaigns.

The Unite union has successfully organised fast food and other “precarious” groups of workers and managed to not only unionise them, but to negotiate collective agreements which rebuild some of the conditions eroded over the past 25 years.

Their 2005 “Supersize my Pay” campaign mobilised young workers to successfully end youth rates, their 2010 “$15 an hour” campaign helped push a National government to give substantial minimum wage increases every year.

And last year their “End Zero Hours” campaign not only achieved guaranteed hours for workers at the main fast food chains, but also forced the National government to change the law to improve security of employment for all workers.

The Living Wage is another high profile international campaign that has had real success.

That on top of higher pay for members is not bad for organisations that are supposedly “irrelevant, backward and belong to the past”.

Part of union bashing, of course, is bashing the party that represents workers. Here’s a fine specimen – Look, there goes the Labour Party – sliding towards oblivion. Wilson basis his rant on Labour “faultlines” over Auckland – do National Party faultlines prove the same?. He then bizarrely concludes –

Actually, there is a point to Labour and it’s a really important one. They’re there to win elections. Labour is the main party of opposition and therefore is likely to be the majority party in any centre-left government. So they have to look credible. They have to be credible.

If they’re not, the whole centre-left suffers. A vote for the Greens is a vote for a Labour-led government. Votes for NZ First and the Maori Party are also votes for the possibility of such a government.

Not bad for a party supposedly “sliding to oblivion” you might think. Labour’s Future of Work planning is essential, Labour is leading the way on housing and poverty, Labour will work with The Greens on climate change – while National drags its heals on all of these issues (A surplus of cash and a deficit of concern for people). Like unions, the Labour Party is needed today more than ever.

198 comments on “Workers, unions and the Labour party ”

  1. gsays 1

    i get that unions faced huge challenges stemming from the early ’90s.

    i was heartened by the articles about the efforts of helen kelly and her way of dealing with people, especially following the death of Charanpreet Dhaliwal, a non union security guard, killed on his first night at work.

    there must be a way that is inclusive of all, ensuring no-one is left out or disadvantaged by another’s greed.

    we have been shown the way and given a few pointers, including being kinder to others.

    as an aside:
    my slightly different experience of a union was after my father died.
    he had a massive stroke.

    a knock on my mothers door and two men were there.

    they introduced themselves, passed on their condolences and gave an envelope to mum.

    it was a cheque that covered all funeral expenses and then a lttle more.

  2. red-blooded 2

    Helen Kelly was really keen to reach out to young people, with ideas like family rights to benefits like health insurance and associate membership status. I really hope the CTU continues to think outside the box like this. Unions continue to have relevance, although they face real challenges.

    • Chris 2.1

      Yes, and unions need to realise that changes to the nature of work must be reflected in what unions do and who they represent. Unions’ continued focus on people in employment only will secure their demise. For the same reasons we need a UBI, so too should unions be widening their reach to include unemployed workers. They too are part of the precariat, not just those lucky (or unlucky) to be employed. We do have groups representing the unemployed, and they do a good job. I’m thinking particularly about the AAAP in Auckland who seem fantastic. But groups like this are largely run by volunteers which necessarily means they’ll always be under-resourced. My guess too is that they’d only see a pretty tiny percentage of unemployed people. The clinic the AAAP put on in Auckland earlier in the year attests to that – hundreds and hundreds of people coming to an event run by volunteers so that they can access government help they wouldn’t otherwise be able too.

      The point about the unions couldn’t have been highlighted more strongly after Guy Standing made his brilliant case for a UBI at Labour’s Future of Work conference. Following that wholly fresh and enlightening account, Richard Wagstaff got up and said that for unions the future of work is about ‘strengthening collective bargaining leading to strong unions’. He just missed the point completely. If that’s all unions are going to aim for in the future then they’ll be ignoring a significant portion of the ever-increasing precariat. And if that happens they’ll be fucked.

  3. BM 3

    Unions need to be politically neutral if they want to survive.

    • Incognito 3.1

      Like charities?

      • BM 3.1.1

        Absolutely, I wouldn’t donate to any charity that’s pushing a political agenda, that’s not their job.

        It’s the same with unions, why would I pay money to a union that was going to take a portion(don’t know if it’s a large or small portion) of my sub and use that to campaign against the government I voted for, in an attempt to get another political party into power that I don’t want?

        • RJL


          Which union are you a member of?

          If you are worried about your union supporting a political party that you don’t like, then you should engage with the democratic processes within your union and convince the membership that it would be in their best interest to support another political party.

          • BM

            I don’t belong to a union, but if I did I wouldn’t want them supporting any political party.

          • Lanthanide

            “and convince the membership that it would be in their best interest to support another political party.”

            Reading comprehension fail? BM wants unions to be neutral, and not support any political party.

        • Stuart Munro

          There is a valid point among your confusion – that union membership should not automatically entail support for a political party. This was a problem with compulsory unions back in the day.

          Unions may reasonably promote parties that support their members’ interests however, including promoting membership, but funding should remain an individual choice.

          Now if only you RWNJ were as principled about corruption and tax evasion.

          • red-blooded

            Let’s remember that a lot of unions DON’T endorse any political party. Mine doesn’t; it scrutinises all parties’ policies and does its own research and policy work, both in response to party policies and as a way of setting the agenda. And BTW, Chris (above) – I was saying at (2) that the CTU had been strategising about how to extend the benefits of union membership beyond the individual worker. Having said that, the core purpose of a union Is collective bargaining, and by keeping that focus they help to protect and serve not only their members but also other workers who exist in a regulatory environment which has been shaped by union bargaining. Something to cogitate on tomorrow; Labour Day.

            • Chris

              “I was saying at (2) that the CTU had been strategising about how to extend the benefits of union membership beyond the individual worker. Having said that, the core purpose of a union Is collective bargaining, and by keeping that focus they help to protect and serve not only their members but also other workers who exist in a regulatory environment which has been shaped by union bargaining.”

              So are you saying that after “strategising” it was decided not to widen union work to include representing the interests of unemployed workers?

              That’s absolutely fine if that’s the case. My point simply is that by doing so, in an environment where the nature of work is changing so rapidly and irreversibly, unions are contributing to their own demise.

        • Gabby

          Of course you feel the same way about companies that rob their shareholders to donate to pollies.

        • Incognito

          You might be surprised that charities in NZ don’t have to be apolitical by law:

          In any case, to try and draw a line between political and apolitical with regards to charities or unions is impossible and untenable IMO. That said, some politicians are trying hard to depoliticise certain issues thereby avoiding (political) analysis and a (political) solution for what is almost without exception a political problem; measuring child poverty is too difficult …

          Lastly, why would you join a union that looks after you best interests and not support a political party that aligns or at least partially overlaps with that union’s philosophy (for want of a better word) and thus your interests!? It does not make much sense to me.

    • fender 3.2

      That could be possible if all political party’s treated unions with respect and didn’t try to undermine their efforts to improve the lot of workers.

    • RJL 3.3


      A union, by definition, is a political organisation.

      Also, are you happy with the idea that businesses (i.e. business owners) can support and donate to political parties?

      • BM 3.3.1

        I have no problem with people/businesses donating to any political party.

        • RJL

          Why do you think a business donates to / supports a political party?

          Why is it OK for a business to support a politcal party but not a union?

          • BM

            Unions are dying, I pointed out the reason why I wouldn’t join a union.

            I’m not interested in financially supporting the Labour party and I’d say there’s a lot a people out there who have the same view as me.

            • weka

              Your argument seems to be ‘unions won’t survive unless they are apolitical because I don’t like the Labour party (and I don’t belong to a union anyway). Even for a Sunday that’s pretty incoherent BM.

              • BM

                The link at the top of the page by Byrce Edwards is about the future of unions and that it’s all looking rather bleak.

                I’d say a big part of that is because they’re far too involved in politics , lots of people vote National so they won’t have a bar of the unions as they’re seen as nothing more than an extension of the Labour party.

                If the union movement wants to survive and grow their membership base then they have to appeal and seem relevant to everyone not just the ones that vote left.

                Only way to do that is get out politics.

                • red-blooded

                  BM, many unions have no link at all with any political party. They aren’t associated and don’t donate. Do you feel happier about joining one now?

                  No? Well, presumably you’re happy about efforts to keep people safe at work, to stop children being exploited, to provide lunch breaks and toilet facilities, to require the same payment for male and female workers doing the same job, to pay for overtime or working on a public holiday..?

                  Oh well. enjoy your Labour Day.

            • RJL

              @BM “I’d say there’s a lot a people out there who have the same view as me”

              I agree. There’s certainly a lot of people who are victims of right-wing propaganda.

        • weka

          Why a problem with unions then?

        • Stuart Munro

          That’s because you’re a scoundrel.

          Democracy is about people voting, not money voting.

    • Takere 3.4

      …And businesses too?? Politically neutral bullshit is just that.
      The war on wages, conditions & a decent way of life all seems to get lost in the argument.
      Not all bosses are pricks, we usually don’t hear from the good ones. Its usually the employers who considers themselves and their businesses the victims because the bad employee/union asked a few pertinent questions at crucial times in a discussion which the employer didn’t like??

      Unions could do better too but the obligations of the employer is to develop a constructive safe work environment. Not to be then mitigated away the responsibility to the employees! Some unions get suckered into that position and agree to it in employment agreements! Forfucksake!!

      Politics is forever omnipresent ….

    • Draco T Bastard 3.5


      So you’ll be calling for all the business unions to also be neutral?

      • Takere 3.5.1

        D. My response was to BM’s “..I don’t belong to a union, but if I did I wouldn’t want them supporting any political party…” Is a BS statement.

        There is no fence you can sit on when it comes to capitalism 2.0

        • locus

          Takere – my guess is Draco is replying to BM’s comment 3 and most likely fully agrees with you

    • Craig H 3.6

      Many of them are, including my own, but given the history of the labour movement, the existence of a union is a political statement, and the decision to belong to the Labour Party (the most common) is hardly a surprise as Labour Parties were commonly f(o)unded by unions to be the political arm of the labour movement.

    • @ BM ,…

      What , so your mates the New Zealand Initiative ( the former Business Roundtable ) isn’t a union ?

      And the all the Employers and Manufacturers Associations ?

      At least in the case of the former when it was known as the Business Roundtable it certainly seemed to act like a union – a very very rich and powerful one in helping to donate vast sums of money to political groups , lobby political party’s and draw up the Employment Contracts Act during the 1990’s.

      And just what did that pernicious little piece of legislation most benefit , huh???


      Wage increases?


      Health and Safety ?…. oh yes – worm farms – did a lot for them. Too bad about Pike River.

      Shift workers working night shift and extra rates?

      Professionals , tradespeople and laborers having to work holidays and weekends away from their family’s and getting compensated with time and a half ….whats that you say about the Junior Doctors strike now , Fred?

      Wages adjusted for inflation ?

      You know what BM ?…

      You talk a lot of bullshit. Just the same as you were the other week I called you out.

      You are very boring , you know,… and because of that I think the people need to have a song break .

      • In Vino 3.7.1

        +1 WK

        I see BM and his ilk as bigoted, rabbiting rednecks. Unions are bad, but Associations are good. Yeah, right.

      • Takere 3.7.2

        @WK … this is a little bit in a different direction but when this govt is committing $100b to infrastructure builds to 2025 and more than $50b is loaded up on local govt balance sheets, rate payers. I’m kinda thinking (aside from we’re fucked) but is this why there is a move to create these “Supercity’s” to dump what should be central government spending on to rate payers??

        “…Of the 3823 projects in the 2016-2025 pipeline, 219 belong to central government and are valued at $40.5 billion, 3559 belong to local government and are valued at $51.1 billion, and 45 projects belong to the private sector at a value of $9.2 billion…”

      • mosa 3.7.3

        Not forgetting that everytime you pay for a Talleys or Sealord product in your supermarket amongst others, many we dont know about you are donating directly to the National party !

        At least with the unions and the Labour party you know who funds them and by how much unlike the National party and its Waitemata trust.

  4. Bill 4

    Would anyone serious minded person honestly argue that unions are fighting anything other than a rear guard action? The examples in the post certainly read as examples of that – successful resistance rather than progress.

    As for Wilson’s piece and supporting any ‘third way’, ‘triangulating’ Labour Party that exists only to ‘win elections’ by ‘looking credible’ in the eyes of status quo cleaving chattering class types – meh. The quicker that mealy version of Labour is burned – slipped into oblivion – the better for us all.

    • red-blooded 4.1

      So you really believe that we’re better served by a right-wing government? Because that’s what you get when you take Labour out of the picture. And before you argue that a “true” left-wing party would arise and gain traction:
      1) There’ve been contenders (remember New Labour? The Alliance? Mana? The Socialist Workers’ Party?) and the reason they didn’t last is that they weren’t broad-based enough. For a party to gain a credible share of the vote they have to appeal to the voters in the middle, not just those on either end of the political spectrum.
      2) The Greens have been sitting at 10-15% for a bloody long time. That’s basically their share of the vote. People on this site might be fans, but we’re not a representative sample of NZers.
      3) Actually, Labour have (almost) always made gains for workers and other ordinary NZers. Douglas and Co were extremists (although they were also breaking free of the insanity of Muldoonism), but we can’t keep seeing Labour through that lens for ever.

      If you choose not to vote Labour, Bill, that’s fair enough, but there are plenty of us who certainly don’t want the party to “slip into oblivion”.

      • Leftie 4.1.1

        +1 Red-blooded.

      • Chris 4.1.2

        “Actually, Labour have (almost) always made gains for workers and other ordinary NZers. Douglas and Co were extremists (although they were also breaking free of the insanity of Muldoonism), but we can’t keep seeing Labour through that lens for ever.”

        It’s fair enough that we slice off what the fourth Labour government represented when looking to the future, without forgetting what happened, of course. But this is only because most have acknowledged that it was a pretty unsavoury time for the left in New Zealand.

        But the Fifth Labour government wasn’t that fantastic for a large group of New Zealanders, either. The difference is that this hasn’t even been acknowledged. In fact I’d go so far to say most on the left refuse to believe it.

        It’d be great if we could slice off 1999 to 2008 as a dark period for the poorest in New Zealand, and then learn from that when looking to the future. But we can’t do that yet, not until the left start to try to understand and then accept what happened.

        • Leftie

          “we”? Stop pretending you are of the left Chris. Why is it you never discuss National and it’s dark periods for the poorest in New Zealand? It’s easier for a troll like yourself to blame Labour for it all.

          • Chris

            Because it’s only idiots like you who need to be told the bleedin’ obvious, while at the same time accepting the neo-liberal claptrap that your precious Labour party cling so hopelessly to. It’s only when Labour rids itself of its hatred for the poor can we even begin to start sorting things out. But don’t worry, Loftie son, there’s absolutely nothing you can do because you’re simply too thick to understand. Now fuck off and get back to throwing your pathetic +1s around like fucking confetti, you pathetic little weasel.

            • Leftie

              What about your National party’s hated of the poor? You accept neo-liberal claptrap that your precious National party clings so hopelessly to, so much so, you never question it, ever.
              I or any one else of the left do not need to be told anything from patronizing Nat trolls like you, Chris. So, if anyone should fuck off, it’s you.

              BTW, it is not against site rules to show support for what another commentator posts. Tough that you don’t like it. So again you know where you can go, don’t you?

      • Bill 4.1.3

        With Corbyn as the leader of UK Labour, the UK Labour Party as it was under Blair/Brown looks set to be ashes cast on the winds of oblivion. Is that a bad thing?

        When Scottish Labour got hammered (twice) for taking the electorate for granted, (it’s now the third party in Holyrood after the Tory Party) do you think it was Labour values that were being hammered?

        Ashes. Oblivion. Phoenix.

        Obviously, NZ Labour isn’t at the same point of the renewal process as either labour values in Scotland or the UK Labour Party in a UK context. But it will be by and by 🙂

  5. Leftie 5

    “Not sure why a supposed leftie like Edwards buys in to this framing so easily.”

    Because Bryce Edwards is not really a leftie.

    A lot of companies encourage employees not to join the union. A major bus company for example, will pay drivers a bit extra as an incentive not to join.

    • RJL 5.1

      “A lot of companies encourage employees not to join the union. A major bus company for example, will pay drivers a bit extra as an incentive not to join.”

      I’m pretty certain that is illegal. Also, if true, that surely speaks to the effectiveness of the union.

      • Leftie 5.1.1

        It’s true and as far as I know, it’s not illegal.

        • RJL

          See Part 3 of the Employment Relations Act.

          esp. Section 8 on Voluntary Membership, and section 11 on Undue Influence.

          • Bill

            It’s not lawful and I know of workplaces where the practice has been ubiquitous.

            Here’s the catch. To take the employer to task, you have to have a worker who is prepared to say they were ‘bribed’. What you reckon the chances of that are?

            The problem isn’t related to a union’s effectiveness so much as it’s related to how much power employers have and how the law operates.

        • Enough is Enough

          It is certainly illegal Leftie and unless you are making shit up you should be reporting that.

          • Leftie

            I’m not making shit up Enough is Enough. It’s true and it’s happening.

            Report to who?

            • Enough is Enough

              MBIE or CTU for a start

              • Leftie

                Try and get a worker who needs the job to report on a big company. Read Bill’s comment @

                • RJL

                  @Leftie “Try and get a worker who needs the job to report on a big company. “

                  Which is the whole point of a union.

                  If the relevant union has evidence that workers are being offered inducements to not join the union, then the union should be able to take legal action.

                  • Draco T Bastard


                    • Chris

                      Yes. Loftie said the practice wasn’t illegal. Bill clarified that it was unlawful but then outlined why it was difficult to enforce because of the power imbalance. Then Loftie agreed with Bill to defend claims that he wasn’t making shit up. Problem for Loftie is that it’s still unlawful.

                      That said, the point is that the practice is not lawful, but there are significant difficulties around enforcement because a lot of people are getting fucked over to the point of deciding that it’s better to be crapped on and take the chance of being able to feed their families some of the time, instead of getting sacked and having to beg at Work and Income or at food banks or sleep in cars or all three. There’s of course no guarantee that choosing the job will prevent the need for any of these things still happening, but we’re certainly led to believe that it does. So people choose the job over complaining.

                    • Leftie

                      So why the personal abuse Chris nat fan troll?

                      The practice of taking incentives to not join the union is widespread. And clearly you know why, then you would have a pretty good idea why unions don’t act on it as well. Many drivers do not see it as being unlawful, particularly immigrants, I was corrected by RJL and Bill on the legal aspect, but it doesn’t mean that the practice of taking incentives to not join the union is not happening, becasue it is and Bill ‘s post acknowledges that and so do you Chris.

                    • Chris

                      You should consider yourself lucky you’re not called something worse than Loftie, Loftie son, especially given what you try to dish out on here, you hypocritical little weasel.

                    • Leftie

                      Dish out what, exactly Nat fan troll?
                      Rather pathetic and hypocritical coming from you Chris. I certainly didn’t go after you with a lengthy diatribe of abuse when you posted a number of wrongs and were corrected by others. You are not in a position to abuse anyone, troll.

                    • Chris

                      You still trying to deny that you were all for Labour supporting government anti-poor legislation? FFS, Loftie son. Haven’t you worked out that either way you’re fucked? The comedy returns, for which I’m of course grateful, but you’re fucked nonetheless.

                    • Leftie

                      What a load of shit Nat fan troll, you’re talking out of your butt as usual. Yet again, you give yourself away. Go back to chasing your tail, troll.

                  • Leftie

                    But the unions don’t though RJL.

                    • RJL

                      Perhaps the union doesn’t take legal action, but unclear why they would not, unless there is a lack of evidence.

                      In which case the union should be either investigating or prompting some relevant authority (MBIE?) to investigate.

                    • Leftie

                      The unions know. And it’s not a matter of a lack of evidence. Please read Bill’s post @

                    • RJL


                      I’m not sure that’s Bill’s response really explains why a union that has evidence of illegal activity by employers would refuse to attempt to take any legal action against those employers (and / or prompt MBIE et al to take appropriate actions).

                      Power imbalance and the threat of retaliation certainly does explain why individual workers might have problems taking action against their employer.

                      But the whole point of the union is to negate this problem.

                    • Leftie

                      Bill’s post does in fact explain it. You have hit on it with your own post, and the imbalance is not just with the worker. And what worker is going to testify against a large, powerful company that is giving them a bit more in pay?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Yep, it’s illegal. Was told that when a manager at Maccers where we were told that part of our job was to prevent union membership despite that being, you know, illegal.

          • Leftie

            It doesn’t stop it from happening though Draco T Bastard, and that’s the other point to be considered. As you know, the unions are well aware, but they don’t act on it.

            • Chris

              “As you know, the unions are well aware, but they don’t act on it.”

              Yes, the unions are well aware, but you said the practice wasn’t illegal when it clearly is, but have still tried to respond as if you’re correct. You’re a pathetic piece of fucking slime.

              • Leftie

                And you are not Chris?
                You agree with me and yet you continue to abuse me for an error I have already acknowledged. Get over yourself Nat fan troll. I don’t hound you over all of the errors you have made.

      • Leftie 5.1.2

        Believe me RJL, drivers being paid a bit extra as an incentive not to join the union don’t see it as being unlawful. The unions know.

        • dukeofurl

          is it written in their contracts?
          You cant prevent someone from joining what they like.

          • Leftie

            Of course it is not written in the contract to not join the union, and of course if someone wants to join the union they can, I am not saying they can’t. What I am saying is, and I know it for a fact, is that drivers are offered a bit extra as an incentive to not to join the union. It is up to the individual driver whether they accept or not. Remember too, many of these new drivers are immigrants.

        • Chris

          Sure, but it’s still unlawful.

          • Leftie

            But it doesn’t stop it from happening though.

            • Chris

              Your point was that it was lawful. You defended that position in every greasy, slimy way possible to try to deflect that. You’re even still trying to deny you got it wrong. You’re the most hypocritical piece of filth I’ve encountered anywhere for a very long time.

              • Leftie

                And the same can be said of you Chris, Nat fan troll.
                And my point is, is that it doesn’t stop it from happening. For fucks sake Chris, you actually agree with me, I made an error about the legality and have acknowledged that.
                Shall we spend the next year going through all of your mistakes and ramming it down your throat at every opportunity? Get over yourself troll.

                • Chris

                  That’s precisely what you continuously try to do, you little fuckwit, and you’ve been wrong every fucking time.

                  • Leftie

                    Obviously not every time. Lol you say I’m wrong, yet you agree with me, whose really the little fuckwit here?

    • joe90 5.2

      A lot of companies encourage employees not to join the union

      Divide and rule via the puku – a recently refurbished works has brought in a large group of workers from another facility, who, in agreement to signing an individual contract, will be provided with a heavily subsidised canteen where other unionised workers will be able purchase unsubsidised meals.

    • Skinny 5.3

      I agree about Edwards, the guy is not Left at all and I don’t rate him as Left friendly. Not sure why his article has been given oxygen.

      The CTU are weak gutted and many unions too PC. Not enough time put into grassroot activism by most apart from Unite & First, Utu have been a major disappointment IMO.

      As far as political donations go the combined figure given to political party’s is loose change in the pocket compared to the greedy corporations/business bribes.

  6. Observer Tokoroa 6

    . Hi BM
    . Hi Bill
    The problem with throwing mud at Unions, is that you two guys wanted the Corporations to take over the issues of Worker’s Fairness and Equity.

    You love Zero Hours … because your global Corporations tell you it is good for you.

    Never do you or Hoskings or Garner, Fran or Key, or Billy or any newspaper talk of what Nurses and Doctors, Teachers and Scientists and Plasterers and Roofing Men et al .. do for the community.

    You actually despise helping anyone but yourselves. A technique you picked up from Thatcher and Rand.

    Take a look in the mirror …and see how hollow you look. And for pete’s sake stop licking the arses of the wealthy Corporates 24/7.


    • Bill 6.1

      Well seeing you have no idea of the work I’ve done or of the energy I’ve expended in the service of union causes there Observor Tokoroa. (Hint: more than most)

  7. Observer Tokoroa 7

    . Well – If you have done heaps of work for the Employees of New Zealand – I have to say I admire that Bill. Immensely.

    But now, around the world Corporates hold the cat of nine tails.

    They don’t give tuppence about conditions; living wage, health and safety or quality. So I am hoping we can teach everyone what evil Corporates do. And the way to do that is to embarrass the Government. Over and Over and Over.

    O T

    • BM 7.1

      Still haven’t mastered the complexities of the reply button I see.

      Or do you just think your stuff is just so important and amazing that it needs to be stand alone?

      • fender 7.1.1

        “Why don’t you just fuck off, you are useless and serve no purpose”

      • Paul 7.1.2

        People who don’t support unions deserve society’s contempt.
        “No man is an island.”

        • In Vino

          Quite right, Paul. But BM thinks his right-wing ideas are continents, and their truth is global. Individuals and islands don’t really count if they don’t comply.

  8. Wayne 8

    Why are unions less relevant today? Largely because the nature of work has changed.

    New Zealand is no longer dominated by a few large scale employers on large worksites. In those places unions still are active, along with the public sector. But are teacher unions or doctors unions really unions in the traditional sense?

    Much more work is done in small scale enterprises or by contract. Unions, at least of the traditional type, are irrelevant to workers in these jobs.

    So fundamentally unions are declining force in society. This implies they should have a less significant role in political parties, specifically Labour.

    No doubt some on this site will mention increased inequality over the last twenty-five years. In fact income inequality has not changed during that time, notwithstanding the unions have become weaker during this time. So unions are not that relevant to that issue. People have been able to negotiate effectively without unions.

    I would concede wealth inequality has increased, but that is largely due the fact there property prices, especially in housing, have increased faster than income growth. Unions are not relevant to this trend.

    Grant Robertson clearly understands these trends. Whether he will come up with a new model remains to be seen.

    Youthful leftist entrepreneurs (Chloe Swarbrick for instance) also do not see unions as being the path to the new economy and social relations within it. They are looking for new forms of organisation of collective work, perhaps more akin to partnerships where everyone has an equity stake within the business.

    • BM 8.1

      They are looking for new forms of organisation of collective work, perhaps more akin to partnerships where everyone has an equity stake within the business.

      That’s the way of the modern world.

      The shouty in your face aggressive us vs them approach of some unions just doesn’t resonate with younger people.

      Which is hardly surprising since being accepting of others and working together is now drummed into people through out their formative years.

      • dukeofurl 8.1.1

        That might make some sense if there werent ’employer unions’ too. Federated farmers is really a type of employer union as well. Same goes for NZ Law Society

        • Wayne


          All of which are weaker than they used to be, for much the same reason as for unions.

      • RedLogix 8.1.2

        I suppose I wouldn’t mind your rule about unions not being allowed to donate to the Labour Party so much, if there was a similar rule about corporates and their rich shareholders not being allowed to fund the National Party.

        After all I do object to buying goods or services of a commercial entity when it’s entirely possible they are supporting a right-wing political philosophy I do not like.

      • Incognito 8.1.3

        The shouty in your face aggressive us vs them approach of some unions …

        You do realise that industrial action is the last resort when good-faith negotiations have broken down, for example?

        Do I detect a hint (?) of disdain towards any kind of demonstration or activism? Or is it simply a dislike of loud & obnoxious people? If the latter, you may not like politicians shouting at each other debating in the House either.

        • In Vino

          You are right to call BM on this. He doesn’t like ‘loud, shouty’ unions, but approves no doubt the NZ Initiative etc because they are on his side. In fact, I myself find his anti-union statements pretty ‘loud and shouty’.

      • Lloyd 8.1.4

        An equity stake?

        Sounds like a co-operative to me. Equity means there is some equality in there somewhere. Seen any co-operatives formed lately that involve more than half a dozen people? Only co-op that is working is Fonterra and the management are working very hard to dismember that success.

        Bloody difficult for a single worker getting any equality with a multi-national.
        A union is a a little bit of equality insurance for almost all workers.

        Any group of more than 3 persons involves politics. Saying unions shouldn’t be involved in politics is like saying politics shouldn’t be involved in sport and we all know that is a load of bollocks – seen any apartheid sport lately?

    • Stuart Munro 8.2

      Yep – you’ve casualised unskilled labour to an unprecedented degree, and being cheap and foreign it mostly isn’t unionised.

      This is not the future however, but the past.

      The Gnats are a conservative, backward-looking party. They bet the farm on milk powder, not biotechnology, because their imagination died in the 1960s.

      They are among the last supporters of the TPPA because they think they can lie to the NZ public with impunity.

      Our national debt has increased, our cost of living has increased, suicide is through the roof and Nick Smith’s crowning achievement is 18 houses in 8 years.

      The Gnats are ambulant dog tucker – a waste of feed.

    • Paul 8.3

      Your lack of care for unions that protect the rights of the vulnerable says so much about you.
      Solidarity means nothing to you.
      Selfish greedy individualism.
      A repulsive ideology.

      • Red 8.3.1

        Grow up Paul, does your condescending only I care bull shit have no end, what a boorish twat you are

    • Chris 8.4

      “Why are unions less relevant today? Largely because the nature of work has changed.”

      Yes, but your suggested response isn’t going to work because of your fundamental error about wealth distribution. You can cleverly talk as if there’s a relevant difference between income inequality and wealth inequality, which must assume that one doesn’t follow the other. Tell that to families sleeping in vehicles. The result’s the same.

      The changing nature of work means that more and more people are getting left behind. This means that the unions, if they’re going to stay relevant, need to represent all workers, employed and unemployed. Unions get their strength in numbers, so when numbers drop, so too does the power of the unions.

      Individuals within unions are very effective at what they do, but they can’t be effective if the group they represent is a dwindling breed. Imagine how exciting it’d be if unions decided to widen their net and begin speaking on behalf of all workers, employed or unemployed? Imagine how strong and effective the voice for the growing precariat could be?

      Imagine what would start happening in local Work and Income offices all over the country if every bureaucrat were answerable to highly skilled union officials whenever they sent a sole parent with five sick kids packing because they hadn’t filled in a form properly? Imagine the strength the unions would muster from such a widened support base, and what this could mean for introducing a UBI? Etc etc etc…

      So yes, the changing labour market is what’s affecting unions. But I see it as a call for action, not a reason to hide away and slowly die, as the right wing continue to actively work towards.

      • In Vino 8.4.1

        Partly agree. The right wing have deliberately disabled unions, and are now using ‘a modern, changed situation’ (which they created) as an excuse to say that unions are ‘no longer relevant’. Your list of what unions could do if they did as you suggest is impressive. It is partly what good unions try to do for their members now.

        But I wonder how your idea would really work. How would an unemployed tradeless person know which union to subscribe to, and how would he subscribe with very low income; each union would need a huge increase in staff, field officers etc – where would this come from when unemployed are broke, and many workers are impoverished? Would unions need to amalgamate for this, and would that not weaken individual unions already struggling to defend their paying members?

        I suspect that such a system would need Govt. legislation and support to make the idea workable, and I think you can kiss that possibility goodbye.

        • Chris

          Thanks In Vino. Yes, I’m aware that this, in a sense, is quite a challenge. But the need for unions to change in the way I’ve outlined isn’t just about widening the group unions represent. It’s also about knowing that to do this may require abandoning some aspects of how unions currently operate. The old line “we can’t represent you because you haven’t paid your fees” may have to be abandoned, I don’t know. Union fees are of course a huge part of the union movement. Perhaps, as you allude to, the funding structure of unions would, probably no doubt, have to be revisited. Again, I don’t know how exactly. But all of that would have to be worked out after unions made a decision, in terms of their values, about what was important for them to do given the changing nature of the labour market.

          What’s important is that unions make that decision. It’s then a matter of working out how that happens. It may mean fundamental changes to traditional notions of unionism. I don’t know. But the challenges unions face are very real. Those challenges may for many represent an affront to the way unions go about their work, again I know. But if unions don’t change then they’re moving towards irrelevance pretty damn swiftly. Unions must choose to remain relevant, and in my view that means choosing to represent the ever-increasing precariat. Once that decison is made then it’s a matter of working out the detail.

          Of course, in practice, this won’t occur in a vacuum. Unions may decide that they don’t want to change and remain representing only the employed. All I’m saying is that it’s a matter of values. That’s what’s important.

          If unions truly believed what I’d like unions to believe, which is that they should actively include representing all workers, whether employed or unemployed, then they’d make that decision. The rest is mere detail.

          • In Vino

            Cheers Chris. My union is PPTA. We used to be an ‘Association’, and our name still says so, but in the 1980s I think, Govt legislation pretty well forced us to register as a union. Ever since then, we have been lambasted by right-wingers for being a union. As I remember, we often made gestures of support for other unions we saw as being in a just struggle. But by and large, we have been fighting tooth and nail for basic working conditions and against policies we see as damaging for a good education system. No energy to spend on anything else. And it appears that if National get in again at next election, both PPTA and NZEI will be facing Armageddon. Unions have to look to their own sector, and I cannot see your vision getting onto their agenda.

            • Chris

              “Unions have to look to their own sector, and I cannot see your vision getting onto their agenda.”

              Absolutely, and yes, what I’m saying probably won’t become part of the agenda, for lots of reasons.

              What’s important, though, is that changes to the nature of work and the labour market are inevitable, and your observations regarding particular unions are hugely relevant. What this means in a practical sense is that the unions representing people at the sharp end could begin widening their brief first. Unions, for example, that represent workers at fast food joints and other outfits that regularly fuck workers over deal with people who constantly straddle the benefit/wages knife-edge and who get done over doubly because of the bureaucracy. This area might be an obvious start. But the teacher unions (and loads of others – teachers are just an example) aren’t immune – just look at the unbelievable virtual bloody schools proposal. Everywhere you look is up for grabs. I guess what I’m saying is that unions should be looking at preparing for the future. If they don’t, well, I don’t predict good things.

            • Wayne

              In Vino,

              Why would you say NZEI and PPTA will be “facing Armageddon” if National gets in again? In fact the relationship would be essentially the same as it is now, though I appreciate you may think it is already armageddon. National clearly has a different perspective of education choice than NZEI and PPTA (though not all all teachers).

              But that is the purpose of elections. The education unions do not have a monopoly on what happens in the sector. Parents, through their vote also have a say.

              Anyway back to my broader point, given that I don’t really think NZEI and PPTA are unions, notwithstanding their representational role on employment issues. They are never going to perform a role analogous to the FOL.

              Unions can never regain the place they had in the past, which in any event was substantially a product of compulsory membership. It seems highly unlikely that this will be promoted as a policy by any of the political parties.

              Can unions forge a new role? I don’t know, but it seems unlikely.

              Unions don’t seem to be the key actors in the major debates within society.


              On the point of distribution of wealth. Given that the changes are largely a function of increases in property values, it won’t be easy for public policy to unwind this, though I think we have pretty much a hit a peak in Auckland. A capital gains tax has not prevented the same phenomena in Sydney.

              There are fundamental forces at play which have caused it. The relative attractiveness of cities like Vancouver, Sydney and Auckland. The flow of migration and the increased wealth of the Asia Pacific including the migrants. A low interest rate situation. These and other factors seem predominant.

              Crashing the property market in this situation probably requires policies which would lead to the wholesale wrecking of the economy. None of the major political parties will risk that.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Unions don’t seem to be the key actors in the major debates within society.

                Dr. Mapp’s utter disrespect for Helen Kelly says something about Dr. Mapp. I doubt his disdain extends to getting his snout out of the trough provided by among others, forestry workers.

                Dancing on graves suits you, Wayne.

              • Tony Veitch (not the partner-bashing 3rd rate broadcaster

                Wayne is a good example of thinking along the tramlines. Ideologically, market forces are good, therefore there can be no place for unions in the workplace, only individuals taking responsibility for their own states and negotiating directly and one to one with their employers.

                But capitalism cannot, with its emphasis on infinite growth, provide solutions for the global crises which are approaching.

                Collectively, societies may have a chance, an outside chance, of weathering the coming storms, but a greed-based society, where everyone looks only after themselves, has no show.

                Far from being a thing of the past, unions are an embryo of the future. The ‘Waynes’ of this world are rapidly becoming fossils.

              • Incognito

                @ Wayne, 24 October 2016 at 8:34 am:

                National clearly has a different perspective of education choice than NZEI and PPTA (though not all all teachers).[sic]

                But that is the purpose of elections. The education unions do not have a monopoly on what happens in the sector. Parents, through their vote also have a say.

                These two sentences are laden with misconceptions and (deliberately?) misleading thinking.

                The subtle hint between your parentheses leads directly into the first misconception: National does not speak for all parents and ‘winning’ an election does not give any political party the right or mandate to run roughshod over teaching & education.

                Secondly, the differences of opinion between National and NZEI and PPTA are much deeper and wider than “education choice” and you know this full-well.

                Thirdly, giving the parents “a say” is all nice a well, particularly when National loves to practice wedge politics, but this masks the fact that important decisions on the shape & form of education & teaching in NZ should be based on best practice and scientific data of which there is no shortage. However, National (and ACT) choose to ignore the best available evidence and continue to put their ideology first over and above what’s considered best for our children.

                Unions don’t seem to be the key actors in the major debates within society.

                Hah! It suits National to shut down public debate and one very effective way is to mute the voices of unions and professional associations without which public debates become silent, one-sided dull affairs, especially when held on National’s terms and framed by National’s spin doctors only and propagandised by the MSM that are generally hopelessly biased.

                Unions had and still have an important role in our society and if they cease to exist it won’t be because this role has become irrelevant; a role that goes much further than collective bargaining for cost of living adjustments and the likes. Without the effective voice of (the) unions our society would be worse off.

                Enjoy your Labour Day!

                • Wayne


                  While a party does not have a right to run roughshod over education it certainly has a right to implement education policy that it put to the electors. Obviously not all parents support National, but enough do so it can form the govt.

                  For instance National has directly campaigned on charter schools (they may have started as ACT policy but in the last two election became National policy. Now I know unions hate them, but too bad. In National’s view they are a legitimate education option (and there is plenty of evidence supporting their success in many jurisdictions), therefore so as long as National is in office they will exist. If they prove to be robust and successful over time, one would expect them to become a permanent feature of the education system, especially given that the Maori community have been their strongest supporters. Will the unions simply continue their blind ideological opposition?

                  • Incognito

                    Thanks Wayne,

                    This post and this particular thread is not really about charter schools but even so, if best evidence suggests the contrary the experiment should not be repeated in the hope (!) that it will offer the odd edible fruit. If Māori support charter schools, as you say, then maybe you should look at the reasons for this; it might be that Māori feel they miss out in the current system but this does not make charter schools the only logical inevitable alternative, does it? It is a false dichotomy, as so often in these so-called debates.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    They never started it (the blind ideology) in the first place, just like you and your pet pig.

                    They may well continue their evidence-based opposition though, especially when the government’s venomous mouthpieces continue to tell lies about their motivation and arguments.

              • red-blooded

                Wayne, you’re clearly not a member of NZEI or PPTA, and frankly have no status to tell those of us who are whether or not we belong to a union. As for saying that they are “never going to perform a role analogous to the FOL” – you do understand that the FOL’s role was as an umbrella group for (almost) ALL unions, don’t you? Of course PPTA and NZEI aren’t performing a role analogous to this.

                And how does your comment that “unions don’t seem to be the key actors in the major debates within society” fit with your previous comments about the ongoing debates in the education sector, in which the education unions certainly do play a key role? (Oh, and BTW, while “armegeddon” may be a bit emotive, there are huge debates in the education sector between educators and the government about Charter Schools, COOLs (online learning for students of any age, not linked to a school), bulk funding, National Standards, voucher-style systems of funding… a huge range of issues, most of them pretty damn complex and arising from the idealogical perspective of a right-wing government.)

    • millsy 8.5

      No thanks to your lot. Workers were financially better off in 1980.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.6

      …some on this site will mention increased inequality over the last twenty-five years…

      In fact, it is now thirty-two years since the “free” “market” “reforms”. Dr. Mapp knows this. Let’s be charitable and assume that his false statement was a simple oversight, rather than a deliberate attempt to deceive.

      • Wayne 8.6.1

        I specifically mentioned 25 years (i.e. since 1992) because I know how and when the economy changed, as indeed do most who take an interest in this issue.

        The major period of reform was between 1985 and 1992. It covered floating the dollar, removing import controls, freeing up markets and introducing competition, privatisation, reducing top taxes from 66% to 33%, introducing GST, ending compulsory unionism, and ending subsidies especially to farmers. The whole programme ended the New Zealand economy being run like a polish shipyard. It bought New Zealand into the mainstream of OECD economies.

        During that 7 year period there was a major change in income distribution. That was intended. New Zealand was literally too equal.

        It did not make sense that watersiders, with no formal training, earned as much as doctors with at least 7 years formal training. This was the reason why the New Zealand workforce (pre 1985) was much less skilled than in other comparable nations. There was not the incentive to upskill.

        So the reforms were intended to change the basic incentive structure. Higher skills would be more highly rewarded in a more open market. There would much less of the economy that was sheltered, such as 25,000 people in the NZ Post/Telecom monopoly or 25,000 people in NZ Rail.

        Now, I know that it was a painful change. Many of my relatives in the “old” economy found the change tough going. Many of them ended up supporting Winston (not many were Labour, even though they were in natural Labour supporting sectors).

        Many Standardnista’s pine for New Zealand the way it was. Judging by some of the comments, I imagine that many commenters were in their 30’s and 40’s in the 1980’s and 1990s. The New Zealand that existed pre 1984 has gone and is not returning. Raging against the neo-liberal establishment will not change that fact.

        That is why unions are never going to regain the power they once had (and to say so does not mean disrespecting Helen Kelly). This is not saying that unions do not have a role, but they will never be as influential as they were in the past.

        That is why Grant Roberston’s views are being followed closely. He is looking forward, not back.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          “That was intended”.

          [citation needed]

          “Higher skills would be more highly rewarded”

          [citation needed]

          Your fantasies are sharply at-odds with recent analysis by the World Bank et al, who quantify the damage you did to both society and the economy.

          I note that you cannot engage with my reasons for observing your contempt for Helen Kelly, instead inventing a weak strawman. Who are the “key actors” in society? Certainly not those who can’t hold their ground without lying.

        • Groundhog

          There were also many supposed ‘right leaning’ people burned in that process, including farmers who were forced off their land. But the changes were necessary in order for NZ to move on from loss of traditional export markets, the and damaging effects of near socialist style controls.

          • joe90

            Who and where were these farmers who were forced off their land?.

            • Groundhog

              I don’t know their names, but it estimated around 800 farms were subject to forced sales (—Life-after-subsidies—the-NZ-experience.pdf). The agricultural sector generally rebounded extremely well from the loss of taxpayer subsidy (as that link shows), but it certainly hurt many farmers.

              • joe90

                Eight hundred nation wide *pfft* over the course of a two year period more than eight hundred low income families in my community lost their livelihoods.

                And you wonder why some of use hate you and your psychopathic ilk so fucking much.

                • Wayne

                  It is worth noting that the level of employment (% of the eligible workforce in employment) in the economy is almost the highest in the OECD. The unemployment rate is 5.1% (in 2007 it was around 4%).

                  The immediate shocks of 1987 to 1992 disappeared a long time ago. It is after all between 25 and 30 years ago. By the early 2000’s unemployment had got down to the mid 3’s, which is pretty near the lowest level of unemployment achievable in a modern economy (fundamentally more flexible than pre 1984).

                  Anyway the topic is unions.

                  Pink Postman wants compulsory unionism. Won’t happen and suggesting it is something of a head in the sand attitude, as if the changes of the last 30 years could be wished away. The CTU knows that, which is why they don’t ask for it. Andrew Little, unionist that he is, knows that such a promise would scare a huge amount of voters including those sympathetic to the left. It would be a big enough issue to keep Labour out of power. Younger voters would think it was crazy, something they probably hear their grandparents talk about.

                  The Hillary series on TV 1 showed a NZ (the 1950’s) that was remote even by my experience, and I am approaching National Superannuation age. Presumably the 1970s and early 1980’s are as remote to anyone under 35, or even 40.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    The immediate shocks are still ruining lives every single day, as the Salvation Army and UNICEF and Helen Kelly have been saying.

                    Take a look over the brim of your trough sometime.

                  • Paul

                    Compare unemployment with 1975 before the cult of neoliberalism you adhere to took over.

                    • Groundhog

                      You can’t. For much of NZ’s economic history before 1975 we never paid our way. Our income was largely derived from support from the UK and the wider commonwealth. That ended in the late 60’s early 70’s, and both Kirk and Muldoon screwed around not addressing the issue. Douglas had the intestinal fortitude and the foresight to address the issue. As a result we have a strong economy in which we employ more people than ever before.

                    • Nic the NZer []

                      “For much of NZ’s economic history before 1975 we never paid our way.”

                      Umm, quick question. Just who is it New Zealand needs to pay its way to?

                  • Nic the NZer

                    Putting a few of Waynes comments together. It appears he is ready to write his first post for the Standard. Titled ‘I helped demolish unionism in New Zealand, it was intentional’.

                    Of course the important lesson to be learned is that this is entirely reversible, and was implemented via an act of parliament (as is most of neoliberalism).

                  • Groundhog

                    Not only will it not happen, it SHOULD not happen. Freedom of association, including freedom to CHOOSE whether to join any association or not, is a fundamental element of a free society. The days of unions enjoying a captive income from a reluctant constituency are over, and thank goodness for that.

                    With respect to the unemployment rate, it will never again return to under 4%. Today people have to earn a living; there are no easy jobs with government departments who used to soak up the unemployable.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke


                      The verbal equivalent of Russell Tully displays his hatred yet again.

                    • Groundhog

                      Hatred? Of what? I’m not I waste energy on that emotion on very much, but certainly not on unions. They enjoy support from some quarters, and good for them. But compelling people to join a union is just plain anti-democratic.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Brain damage it is then.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      Yeah good point. Its fully possible for the unemployment rate to be lowered just by the government having a commitment to employ people who cant otherwise find work. Of course this highlights that 4% + unemployment is a voluntary choice society has made for people.

                    • Groundhog

                      “Its fully possible for the unemployment rate to be lowered just by the government having a commitment to employ people who cant otherwise find work.”

                      It’s fully possible for the unemployment rate to be lowered by people actually taking the jobs that are available.

                      “Of course this highlights that 4% + unemployment is a voluntary choice society has made for people.”
                      Mmm, no. People chose to be unemployed. Society doesn’t make that choice for them.

                    • Nic the NZer []

                      Why stop there? Keep digging.

                      Its entirely a question of are there enough jobs. Of course (despite your delusions) there are typically not!

                    • Groundhog

                      “Its entirely a question of are there enough jobs.”

                      Sure, that’s true. But there are plenty of jobs if you are mobile, prepared to retrain and prepared to start from the bottom.

                    • Nic the NZer


                      So (according to this chart) over the course of 2008-2009 around 25,000 more NZers found themselves unemployed. Your argument for how this happened is that 25,000 odd additional NZers suddenly found themselves immobile, unprepared to retrain, and unprepared to start from the bottom? While over 2006-2007 they found themselves mobile, prepared to retrain and prepared to start from the bottom. If this is your belief, you are delusional.

                      It perfectly clear what happened is that over the course of 2008-2009 about 25,000 fewer positions became available.

                    • Groundhog

                      “Your argument for how this happened is that 25,000 odd additional NZers suddenly found themselves immobile, unprepared to retrain, and unprepared to start from the bottom? ”

                      No. I said ‘are’, as in the present day.

                      In NZ, the recession lasted from Q1, 2008 until Q2, 2009 ( So, our economy has been out of recession for 7 years. That is plenty of time for today’s unemployed to retrain or relocate. I know a number of people who have done either or both of these things.

                  • KJT

                    Of course the level of employment will go up when you count one hour a week, paid or unpaid, as employment.

                • Groundhog

                  Not sure what brought on that psychopathic response. Perhaps it was that you learned something you previously didn’t know?

                  I have sympathy for all, including the many family businesses that went to the wall. But in the end, this adjustment was necessary. NZ could no longer pay people to produce products and services no-one wanted or we weren’t competitive in.

              • KJT

                The farming sector is still taxpayer subsidised.
                The subsidies never ended, which is why it is one of our biggest sectors.
                Average tax paid by a farmer $1500 /year.

                Irrigation and other farming subsidies continue at a level higher than their export earnings.

                • Groundhog


                  “The New Zealand agricultural sector is unique in being the only developed country to be totally exposed to the international markets since subsidies, tax concessions and price supports were removed in the 1980s.”

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    *cough* ETS *cough*

                    *cough* wade-able *cough*

                    • Groundhog

                      You aren’t serious, are you?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yes, I’m serious: you have brain damage caused by telling yourself too many lies.

                      As for the farmers, we are subsidising both their greenhouse emissions and their pollution of the waterways.

                      When I do business I wear my own costs. What do you do?

                    • Groundhog

                      “As for the farmers, we are subsidising both their greenhouse emissions and their pollution of the waterways.”

                      No, the truth is that Farmers are subsidising our standard of living by the foreign currency they earn.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Innumerate illiterate pretends to understand economics. Doesn’t.

                • Groundhog

                  “New Zealand’s dairy industry is its biggest export earner, and generated NZ$17 billion in the year to December 2014…”

                  That’s dairy ALONE. Agritech is another $700m…

                  What are you smoking?

                  • Richard Rawshark

                    Must be easy to maximize profits by buying nitrates by the truck loads and not giving a flying fuck where your cow shit goes.

                    No problem with ethical farmers but every farmer claims they are, fuck all actually walk the talk. hence the state of our rivers.

                    I grew up farming, worked all over the planet as a hired hand.

                    Seems to be a bit of an attitude from NZ farmers though that the rest of the people here should be beholding to them. Bit over that arrogance.

                    • Groundhog

                      You’re greatly exaggerating. Farmers earn NZ a significant portion of our standard of living, and have adapted to life without subsidies. Those on welfare on the other hand…

                    • Richard Rawshark

                      Farmers do earn quite a bit, and they sure as fuck let us know it..

                      Bit arrogant isn’t it?

                      Tech does quite well here too, I don’t see them demanding this or that and trying to take preferential treatment on Everything.

                    • Groundhog

                      “Bit arrogant isn’t it?”

                      No. Just stating the facts.

                      “Tech does quite well here too, I don’t see them demanding this or that and trying to take preferential treatment on Everything.”

                      Nor do farmers.

        • Paul

          “NZ was too equal.”
          Is it unequal enough now or does your trough need to be deeper still?
          Court awaits those who betrayed their nation.

  9. I have said it before and repeat it endlessly workers need some form of compulsory unionism. Because in times when there is a lack of jobs employers discourage workers from joining unions.It was common practice in Cambridge for business inquire from job seekers their views on unions. ‘You don’t want to join a union do you “was often asked of job seekers.
    The most powerful unions are the anti worker unions like Federated Farmers and the Chamber of Commerce .Of course they will deny they are unions but that’s exactly what they are.

  10. I have said it before and I repeat it often workers rights are only possible if we have some form of compulsory unionism. It was and most likely still, common practice for business in Cambridge to question job seekers whether they wanted to join a union , the result join union no job.
    What amazes me is that he to most powerful unions are both anti worker
    Federated Farmers and the Chamber of Commerce and both make donations to Right-Wing parties.

    • Atiawa 10.1

      I agree that some form of compulsion is required.
      A return to compulsory unionism must come from the CTU, and I don’t understand why they remain silent on the issue considering the evidence they and others have gathered that makes clear the loss of a voice, income and power that workers no longer have since being covered by an award was abolished.
      Perhaps it does have something to do with Labour party affiliation by a few of the larger CTU unions. There is a dilemma.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        A return to compulsory unionism must come from the CTU, and I don’t understand why they remain silent on the issue considering the evidence they and others have gathered that makes clear the loss of a voice, income and power that workers no longer have since being covered by an award was abolished.

        Or the CTU could use it’s power to start cooperatives that hire their members directly to perform the same tasks for the same clients. Dismiss the middleman so to speak.

        • Atiawa

          The CTU doesn’t have members. They have affiliate unions.
          Your suggestion has been discussed by unions. They would need to be at arms length of the labour hire company and would require clients, many of whom would rather support the current arrangements they have with established labour hire company’s.

  11. Jenny Kirk 11

    ” Not sure why a supposed leftie like Edwards buys in to this framing so easily.”

    I agree with the real Leftie above – Edwards is not left, he’s biased towards the right. And therefore people should be taking his comments with a strong dose of salt.

  12. richardrawshark 12

    Unions have failed because the Labour party went along with their demise, probably pissed with all the union interference back in the day.

    As times changed and the need for unions became apparent as the employers, backed by a willing government(nats the right) and using a minority view even amongst the majority of businesses as in these views are representative of large corporations not small businesses, breathe, the started taking away our hard earned benefits etc.

    To resolve the issue takes as much education and publicity as removing them did. You have to show people the benefits, and encourage them.

    Will the next labour government start reversing this neo lib trend? We all want a good life, not just those who own a business.

    [lprent: You changed your handle (removed the space). Changing a handle or a email address means that the automatic systems get suspicious. That means that you go into automoderation.

    Consistency please. ]

  13. Cinny 13

    I was always told never to hire any staff whom belonged to the union. At the time I was responsible for hiring many staff for large well know company, it was part of the culture of the fishing industry. JS

    Those whom belong to a union are generally paid less than non union members. A wise person would sign up to the job first, then join the union, and directly pay any union fee’s themselves, no need for the employer to know one is in a union, until the union is needed to protect the union member.

    • infused 13.1

      lol, no. Union members are generally paid more than non-union members. Sounds like you are just talking shit.

      This is one of the Unions bully tactics to get non-members to join. That and getting union members to harass the shit out of you.

      • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1

        That and getting union members to harass the shit out of you.

        [citation needed]

        I’ve certainly never been harassed by union members.

        • infused

          I don’t need to cite shit. It was a first hand experience. Believe it or not, really don’t care. This is what actually lead me to hating unions. Their bully tactics on display.

          • Incognito

            It sounds like you’ve had a negative confrontational personal experience with one or more union members. I do find it difficult to understand how this resulted in hatred with often is a deep and irrational emotional state of mind. I can only guess that over time this feeling got engrained through other experiences that were consistent with your original one. It is also a classic pattern on how phobias develop, e.g. a young child that gets nipped by a small dog and who as an adult has a morbid and uncontrollable phobia for all dogs. Be that as it may, it is entirely subjective and personal.

          • Draco T Bastard

            I don’t need to cite shit.

            Actually, you do because your personal experience is just an anecdote and not necessarily generally true.

  14. Atiawa 14

    For a variety of reasons, not least the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act 1991, over $19 billion that should have gone into the pockets of working people since the mid ’80’s, has instead gone to increasing the dividends for company shareholders, CEO’s incomes, company directors fee’s and business owners bank accounts and asset accumulation.
    The “rot” for working people began during the Lange era of government when thousands of public sector jobs were done away with through privatization and restructuring and continued with the Bolger government and Ruth Richardson’s cuts in welfare payments. The fear of job loss has the effect of focusing the mind on survival and looking after number “one”.
    So when the boss say’s he/she doesn’t want a union involved in his/her business, whats a worker supposed to do?
    I could never imagine the cost of housing getting so far ahead of incomes (individual & family) if unions were as strong now as they were 30 years ago.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      For a variety of reasons, not least the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act 1991, over $19 billion that should have gone into the pockets of working people since the mid ’80’s, has instead gone to increasing the dividends for company shareholders, CEO’s incomes, company directors fee’s and business owners bank accounts and asset accumulation.

      Dude, we’ve lost ~$20 billion just from the sale of Telecom. And that amount just keeps going up.

      The fear of job loss has the effect of focusing the mind on survival and looking after number “one”.

      That’s why the government maintains high unemployment.

  15. infused 15

    Unions are dead. Deal with it.

    • Stuart Munro 15.1

      Wishful thinking.

      The rich are stealing bread from the poor again, so the unions are needed again.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.2

      …and we have always been at war with North Korea, eh 🙄

    • Draco T Bastard 15.3

      No, just lost their way.

      The capitalists are still evil though.

    • KJT 15.4

      Average pay rise last year for Union members 2.1%.
      Unless you belonged to the Directors and Managers Unions, 14%.

      Average wage rise for non Union members, Zero.

  16. Observer Tokoroa 16

    . Hi Atiawa

    . Many smart people value Unions. The Public Service; Farmers; Retailers; Trades Persons; Doctors; Lawyers; Educationalists; Nurses; Architects ; Engineers ;Fishermen; Gambling Networks; Insurers; Confectioners; Real Estate Agents ; and above all Banks; Financiers; Corporations; Stock Exchangers. And many many more ….

    A working person who does not belong to an Advocacy Group (Union) is making sure they cop the litter in the bottom of the tray.

    I think your posting is very pertinent. Political trolls simply have no idea of the real world. They really are so dopey. Hollow men.


    • Atiawa 16.1

      And many many more………..Yes, lets not forget our sporting hero’s Richie, Dan, Bodie and JK’s new pet Brendan.

  17. millsy 17

    Wayne — just wondering if you think that wages in this country are too high and that workers have too much protections?

    Because from your post above, you seem to make the point that there was not enough poverty and inequality in NZ, and wages needed to come down.

  18. millsy 18

    Wayne, infused, BM and any other of you right wing bastards hiding in the shadows:

    1) Wages were higher in real terms in 1980 than now. Workers got very generous conditions, such as various allowances, over time and penalty rates. People had heaps of money back then

    2) Jobs were easy to find. You could walk straight into one. No need for a CV.

    3) Health care and education were free. You didint have to worry about doctors bills, school donations, subject fees, prescription charges, etc and so on.

    4) Power was cheap. Thanks to our electricity sector running on a cost recovery, not for profit basis, people could actually afford to pay their power bill. Having your power cut off because you were unable to pay was almost unheard of, because people could actually afford to pay your bill. In addition, there was a statuary obligation to supply power to every household in the country.

    5) No user pays, everything was pretty much free. Licences, birth certs, etc and so on,

    6) The welfare system was generous, and you could afford to pay your bills when on a benefit, if you got sick, you didnt risk losing just about everything, and you could afford health care on a benefit.

    7) The rivers, and air were clean. Farmers were less money obessed. They care more about clean water, and were prepared to accept a little less profit for cleaner waters.

    8) Rents were very low, and there were state houses everywhere. Assistance to buy a house was very generous, with capitalisation, and Housing Corp loans.

    Everything was better and everyone was happier in 1980. No poverty, or misery. People could actually afford things.

    Can you blame us for wanting to go back to those days. They WERE miles better. People were happier and had more money,

    • Paul 18.1

      Then a bunch of traitors sold us out by adopting neo-liberalism.
      Wayne and his treasonable comrades have a date in court to answer their crimes.

  19. millsy 19

    Unemployment/Sickness/Invalid Benefit in 1976:

    $33.20 or $352.61 in today’s money. More than enough to ensure that you didnt lose everything because you got sick, or fired.\

    The DPB was the same level back then as well. Back then you also had the family benefit which was $3 per child, about $30 in today’s money.

    Minimum wage in 1976:

    $60.76 a week, or $645.31 in todays money.

    And Wayne Mapp thinks that living during that time was a nightmare. Because workers had all the money and he couldnt flaunt his wealth.

    • KJT 19.1

      Wharfies got paid more than useless gits like Wayne, who had 35 hour week shuffling paper.
      Not getting pleurisy loading reefer ships.
      Wayne has unwittingly shown why Unions are still necessary.

      One of the most successful Unions are the National party politicians. Best retirement package in the world.

  20. millsy 20

    And Wayne — why does education have to be a privately provided commodity? Why can it not be public good provided by the public sector, and with the teaching of evolution?

  21. Observer Tokoroa 21

    To Millsy

    . The Information you have provided in showing Wage and Benefits value back in the 70’s is great.

    . “Unemployment/Sickness/Invalid Benefit in 1976:

    $33.20 or $352.61 in today’s money. More than enough to ensure that you didnt lose everything because you got sick, or fired”

    . The Politicians today are strutting around like Cockerels claiming workers have never had it so good. Collecting Knighthoods and Dame medals.

    The truly weird John Key trolls such as BM, are gloating that they have crushed the population over the past 40 years.

    Our Politicians are an utter disgrace. They are so damn selfish and amazingly ignorant.


  22. Jono 22

    I think we will see the rise again of the union as the working class see they no longer have any power. The elites are holding onto that power but not for long… I would like to see the employment contracts act repealed aswell. This will help unions get a footing again

    • Chuck 22.1

      “I would like to see the employment contracts act repealed aswell. This will help unions get a footing again”

      Why don’t you suggest that to the Lab/Green JV as a headline policy if they become Government next year?

      Along with compulsory unionism…

      Might be a huge vote winner for 2017 🙂

  23. Michael 23

    Replacing the word “Contracts” with “Relations” in the Short Title of the primary legislation governing workers’ rights sure made a lot of difference, didn’t it? No wonder workers gave up on Labour.

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