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You say ‘flexible labour market’, I say ‘workers’ rights’

Written By: - Date published: 9:28 am, January 24th, 2013 - 35 comments
Categories: Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

So John Key says Hollywood likes New Zealand because of weak unions, low fringe benefit costs and the ‘flexible labour market’.

In other words they can get their wage slaves to work longer for less with fewer complaints.

They don’t have to pay for health insurance or superannuation because we’ve got good ones of those on the public dime.  And they don’t have to pay more in wages or taxes either to make up for it.  In fact with National’s law change Hollywood studios can employ everyone on contracts and not even worry about the minimum wage, and get subsidised $260 million in grants for the pleasure.

Yes, a lot of those grants were under Labour – and Lord of the Rings established a film industry here and gave tourism a boost.

But that’s no reason for National to sell out worker’s rights.  Or trumpet the poor conditions of New Zealand workers as a positive to their foreign corporate mates.

And we know National will want to see this as a ‘success’ so they can roll out more ‘flexibility’ generally.

That’s why there’s no move to comply with the UN and introduce working hour limits for health and safety reasons.  Leaving us working longer hours for our lower wages.

Great quotes from Metiria Turei and Helen Kelly:

Ms Turei said the briefing showed what she saw as Mr Key’s lack of “hope and commitment” to workers.

“Over and over again, we have seen him sell New Zealand short.

“John Key’s modus operandi is deals but what he is selling here is New Zealand workers’ low wages and poor conditions.”

Ms Kelly said Mr Key had low-wage aspirations. “I think it leads to wealth creation for the wealthy, which is who he represents.”

She said Mr Key had a “taste for celebrity” and got a “thrill” from dealing with Hollywood. “He is personally responsible for the relationship with Warners – and he has enjoyed it.”

35 comments on “You say ‘flexible labour market’, I say ‘workers’ rights’”

  1. tracey 1

    Thanks for this posting, I had just asked a question in open mike related to this so will put it here.

    Given the “film industry” is now so attractive to overseas producers (now that they have the working conditions they want);

    How many productions does Warner Bros have underway in NZ today? And since the Hobbit filming ended about 3 years ago?

    How many are schedule to begin in NZ over the next 3 years?

    How many other major studios have films shooting and/or in production in the ast 3 years, currently and in the next 3 years?

    Someone in the industry must know the answer. I would have expected to hear it from the Government seeing as sacrificing worker conditions was of such benefit to NZ “going forward”.

    It’s beginning to look to me as if Peter Jackson is the attraction not NZ.

    • bad12 1.1

      I think you will find that Jackson’s future in New Zealand will be subsidized via NZ On-Air, Slippery at one point when gushing His support of the Director said something in the vein of He seen the future for that particular Sir’s(spit) studio to be in producing drama series for television…

      • tracey 1.1.1

        As I thought. No one know of other big studio productions being done here then????

        • McFlock 1.1.1.1

          Oh, there’ll be a few – about the same number as pre-hobbit laws.

          Maybe Tom Cruise will come back for “Last Samurai 2: the Penultimate Warrior”, which of course leads in to “Last Samurai 3: Son of Sam-urai” (a Meiji-period detective movie, where Captain Algren hunts down a sword-wielding serial killer).

        • Roflcopter 1.1.1.2

          Apart from Avatar II and III?

          • McFlock 1.1.1.2.1

            blasphemy! Dances with Wolves didn’t have any sequel, let alone two!

            edit: even adding those to the list, there doesn’t seem to be much on an increase from the “let’s hobbit-fuck our citizens” law change.

  2. rosy 2

    It’s always worth remembering Key said ages ago he would love to see wages drop. That the film industry is “competitive” is a real achievement for him.

    What really annoys me is that big business is using the taxpayer (aka employees) to take on the associated costs of employment i.e. we’re paying to be employed. They’re paying to make a movie? …not so much.

    In the U.S. Walmart, of course leads the way.

    “In state after state, the largest group of Medicaid recipients is Walmart employees. I’m sure that the same thing is true of food stamp recipients. Each Walmart ‘associate’ costs the taxpayers an average of more than $1,000 in public assistance,” [Congressman Alan] Grayson wrote in a Huffington Post column on Nov. 24, 2012.

    The movie moguls are just playing Walmart catch-up with NZ workers. Government grants were never enough. It’s our taxpayers subsiding their employee costs that’s the real drawcard.

    • quartz 2.1

      Government grants were never enough. It’s our taxpayers subsiding their employee costs that’s the real drawcard.

      Like working for families?

      • One Tāne Huna 2.1.1

        Yes, exactly like WFF, in every detail. In your “mind”.

        • TiggerViper 2.1.1.1

          Rosy, the Walmart comparison is spot on. It’s corporate welfare and we all know how the right hate welfare. Oh that’s right, they only hate welfare to the poor.

        • quartz 2.1.1.2

          Yes, exactly like WFF, in every detail. In your “mind”.

          Look friend, put your sarcasm aside and tell me exactly how WFF is not a subsidy to employers akin to the medicare Walmart employees get.

          • rosy 2.1.1.2.1

            Actually I agree. WFF is a subsidy so employers don’t have to pay a living wage and the working population doesn’t get restless.

            • Murray Olsen 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Accomodation supplements are a subsidy to landlords so that they can make money week to week while they wait for their capital gains. WFF is a subsidy for employers. Much of the roading system and car registration fees are a subsidy to the land transport industry. Both major parties have been in the business of subsidising employers as long as I can remember.

          • One Tāne Huna 2.1.1.2.2

            For one thing, WFF is paid in cash. Which means that its economic impact is spread across a range of beneficiaries, not just the employer and the private medical providers.

            As for the population not getting “restless” I wonder if we are talking about the same US.

            • rosy 2.1.1.2.2.1

              US or U.S?

              With working for families the way I remember it, was that dissatisfaction was building around young professionals – teachers, nurses etc. with families getting caught in the top tax bracket. I remember feature articles in Sunday papers and other news items with working couples with young families not being able to get through the wee. Labour was losing that vote. Instead of adjusting the tax thresholds to maintain the 39 cent rate for the top 5% or whatever it was, to reduce the dissatisfaction, Labour introduced WFF.

              My view that it’s a subsidy for employers is not based on the economic impact of WFF on the wider economy, it’s based on the impression that at time of low unemployment, when wages should rise to attract staff, according to standard economic supply & demand, employers (including the government re teachers and nurses) resisted calls for wage increases.

              Imo WFF was introduced to placate employers and the young professional workers. By association poorer families also benefited but it wasn’t aimed at them, it was aimed at the restless young professionals – the centre vote – and aimed at Labour retaining a business-friendly tag as National was moving to the centre.

  3. vto 3

    Its worth repeating that …..

    Workers are cheaper and easier than slaves for employers in this country.

    Fucking fucked fucktardedness fucking cruel national party c#@ts

    • King Kong 3.1

      What nonsense. I am a worker in this country and I earn a shit stack of money.

      It would certainly be cheaper to keep me as a slave and as a bonus I have an excellent baritone singing voice and already know quite a few negro spirituals.

      • vto 3.1.1

        Fool. Quite clearly, to keep a man and his family on the minimum wage, the government is required to top up the income by way of WFF etc so they can live because the employer does not pay enough to do that.

        With a slave the employer will be required to keep a man and his family and cover everything. So they need to cover minimum wage and WFF. i.e. it costs the employer more.

        Pretty simple maths there kong. Think.

        • King Kong 3.1.1.1

          Though of course as a slave owner I might think twice about providing 100 inch plasma TV’s, piss, smokes, scratches and lotto tickets etc which is effectively what working for families pays for.

          WFF – helping low income families get wasted since 2000 and something.

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1

            Family Trusts – helping rich Tories buy Takapuna homes, Porsche Cayennes and student allowances for their children.

          • vto 3.1.1.1.2

            King Kunt

            fukk off and die

            [lprent: Well I’d generally agree. But at least give a reason…. ]

            • vto 3.1.1.1.2.1

              Because people with the attitude displayed serve no good purpose in society. In fact, they are a severe detriment. They are worse than criminals. Society throughout history has cast these people out. Thrown them to the wolves because they are a risk to everybody else. I don;t care if this wanker is just pulling the tit, heshe reflects a reality in our midst and I wish them out. True.

              Apologies to others for the language and action suggested but that’s it.

            • Murray Olsen 3.1.1.1.2.2

              The reasons should be obvious, lprent. KK is a foul troll who adds nothing to any thread. We can all imagine what’s on WhaleSpew without reading it, or what having our genitalia attacked by enraged wasps must feel like. We equally know what the most ignorant, bigotted and racist comments on any issue will be. We don’t actually need to read them.

            • Mike 3.1.1.1.2.3

              Coz e’s a *unt?

              (sorry)

              (sigh…)

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        And what’s the ratio of you/people not paid enough? I suspect that you’ll find it’s 1/really high number. The only reason you can be paid so highly is because most people aren’t paid enough.

  4. Tom Gould 4

    Ben, the three LOTR movies were made under largely the same ‘flexible’ labour market rules and received similar subsidies, endorsed and celebrated by Ms Clark. The “weak unions” didn’t suddenly appear on 9 November 2008. The CTU should look at itself for answers, having presided over decades of decline in membership, effectiveness and relevance.

    • One Tāne Huna 4.1

      Nothing to do with the Employment Contracts Act and the fourth Labour govt. No, it’s all the CTU’s fault.

      • TiggerViper 4.1.1

        Labour didn’t change the law at the behest of Warner Bros.

        And Labour was working on the issue of minimum rates/rights for contractors.

        Also, National is the govt and all this ‘Labour did X in year dot’ matters not.

        • Tom Gould 4.1.1.1

          The CTU to had a supportive government from 1999 to 2008 yet made little or no progress in the area of the labour market at issue here, independent contractors. They preferred to live in the 19th century, when everyone else was grapping with the 21st. No point blaming Key, as Ben does. Besides, the ‘time warped’ response to the Key legislation simply made the CTU less relevant. The decline will continue until they wake up and realise that ranting ideological dogma from a past age does not cut it anymore, in fact hasn’t cut it for 30 years.

          • One Tāne Huna 4.1.1.1.1

            Reality check.

            Over the last “30 years” union members have continued to earn more than non-members. Perhaps the decline in membership is as a result of not publicising this fact enough.

            As for “ranting ideological dogma” – citation needed. The dogma, incidentally, is elsewhere, being employed by people somewhat more to the right of the political spectrum. It gives rise to phrases such as “trickle down” and “high trust model”.

            • framu 4.1.1.1.1.1

              true – the most outdated and irrelevant union dogma is spoken by those opposed to unions.

            • Mike 4.1.1.1.1.2

              Also, in countries with strong unions, there is less inequality, higher wages and higher economic growth amongst many other positive stats.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.2

            The CTU to had a supportive government from 1999 to 2008 yet made little or no progress in the area of the labour market at issue here, independent contractors.

            No they didn’t because the 5th Labour government was just as welded to the free-market as the 4th Labour government.

    • rosy 4.2

      But a lawsuit that turned on the definition of an employee and a contractor did appear.

  5. tracey 5

    Tom, are you saying the the pm is lying when he claims he has helped increase jobs in the film indusrtry?

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