The Dim-Post

February 29, 2012

It’s the labour market, stupid

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:20 am

If I was an opposition party I’d be working to join the dots between (a) our low wage economy, (b) National’s welfare policy, and (c) recent industrial disputes. Moving the country further towards a casualised, low skilled, temporary work-force isn’t likely to work out well for those of us who have jobs, even if we aren’t unionised.

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49 Comments »

  1. And I would add

    (d) the increasing frequency of disasters like the Rena grounding and the death of 29 men at Pike River.

    Unrestricted capitalism combined with unrestrained managerial power isn’t just bad for your pay.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 29, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  2. People don’t really care about ‘the labour market’ unless it’s their job that is at risk. They might have a passing interest in Air New Zealand laying off 400+ people but that won’t stop them booking the cheapest ticket they can find on the lowest cost airline.

    Comment by ieuan — February 29, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  3. National’s welfare reforms started yesterday. Our law wage economy has been around for years and years, industrial disputes likewise.

    The dots would probably go around, and around, and around, and around………………

    Comment by Nick K — February 29, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  4. One difference between Australia’s labour market and ours is that although unionisation has plummeted in both countries, over there most people’s pay is still determined by awards or some kind of collective bargaining. Kind of weird to be taking cues from Australian Labor these days, but NZ Labour might want to look at the ALP’s successful demonisation of Howard’s WorkChoices system over 2005-07.

    Comment by bradluen — February 29, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  5. “Moving the country further towards a casualised, low skilled, temporary work-force isn’t likely to work out well for those of us who have jobs, even if we aren’t unionised.”

    Should that “aren’t” read “are”? Because otherwise I don’t really get it … .

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 29, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  6. >(d) the increasing frequency of disasters like the Rena grounding and the death of 29 men at Pike River.

    Yeah that would be a real winner sanc. Go on, blame the Chch earthquakes on them too; you know you want to…

    Comment by insider — February 29, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  7. In Australia they are also paid this crazy thing called ‘overtime’ and get paid extra for working weekends. Those crazy Aussies!

    Comment by max — February 29, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  8. But doesn’t paying overtime make it much Harder To Do Business™ and reduce Australia’s Economic Competitiveness™? They must be trying very hard to catch up to us.

    Comment by Jake — February 29, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  9. Fortunately we don’t need unions any more because low pay, low skill jobs will be elevated to the nobility apparently. Paula Bennett is on the case, she doesn’t need to provide high wage jobs, instead she can make shitty ones ‘aspirational.’

    http://afinetale.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/soon-nobility-will-be-revolting.html

    Comment by alex — February 29, 2012 @ 10:01 am

  10. #5: I read that as meaning the current wave of disputes involve attempts to break the unions. Obviously, it would be a good thing if we weren’t unionised, because unions are bad, m’kay! (/sarc)

    Comment by wtl — February 29, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  11. Should that “aren’t” read “are”? Because otherwise I don’t really get it …

    That would work too, but I think it was about the general vs the specific.

    Australia is unionised. Moving Australians toward casualisation is bad for Australian workers.

    New Zealand is not particularly unionised. Moving New Zealanders toward casualisation is bad for New Zealand workers.

    Which is to say, Danyl considers that increasing casualisation (which is being opposed by unions) isn’t just bad for unions, and their members, but is bad for others too.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — February 29, 2012 @ 10:18 am

  12. It frightens me that it sometimes takes a Graeme Edgeler to parse out what I’m trying to say.

    Comment by danylmc — February 29, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  13. It makes your argument sound way better :)

    Comment by merv — February 29, 2012 @ 10:25 am

  14. It frightens me that it sometimes takes a Graeme Edgeler to parse out what I’m trying to say.

    Isn’t that what lawyers are for?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 29, 2012 @ 10:25 am

  15. It really, really should frighten you that Graeme is able to get inside your head in a way that others apparently cannot.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 29, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  16. But taking a specific situation with some pretty specific issues and effect on the whole economy via supply chain disruption and extrapolating that as what will occur to the whole of the Labour market doesn’t quite work as an argument. There are some salient points but generally it looks like the Union movement is going for the big disruptive hairy dog approach to retaining members and shore up the NZLP’s support as well.

    Comment by merv — February 29, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  17. Denise Roche from the Greens is joining some of those dots, Danyl. Over here

    Comment by toad — February 29, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  18. @insider at comment 6:

    “…Yeah that would be a real winner sanc. Go on, blame the Chch earthquakes on them too; you know you want to…”

    And the difference between a NATURAL DISASTER and a MAN MADE DISASTERS like Pike River and the MV Rena is? Think hard now, I’ll give you a biscuit if you get the answer right.

    Hint: I’m a nice guy, so I used capitals to give you a little pointer.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 29, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  19. And the difference between a NATURAL DISASTER and a MAN MADE DISASTERS like Pike River and the MV Rena is?

    C’mon,Sanc. That’s a trick question.
    Similar to natural vs man made fibres, natural disasters are generally more sustainable, durable and healthier for you than man made ones.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 29, 2012 @ 11:37 am

  20. Labour is too busy telling Len Brown what to do.

    Comment by NeilM — February 29, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  21. It’s also going to be shit even for the unionized. My mother, a teacher, understands that teacher pay is going to be linked to post-education job outcomes of students. So teachers are going to be punished because there are no jobs.

    This government are fucking clowns.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 29, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

  22. We need a Government that is willing to pay time and a half after employees work 10 hours in the space of one day, double time plus a day in lieu for working on public holidays, harsher restrictions about what businesses can operate on public holidays, and the enforcement of annual holidays to be taken and not paid out or continually just sitting there.

    We also could do with all companies having to employ a Human Resources Manager, and a Manager of Supervisor to be present in all cases where a company needs (farming, for example) to open on a public holiday.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — February 29, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  23. Give me death before compulsory HR managers. Please.

    Who trains these people? Why do they never understand how organisations function? Why are they always so ignorant of emplyoment law? (Clue: maybe its because they’re toadies for management and not neutral agents who work to ensure fair employment relationships.)

    Comment by Me Too — February 29, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  24. A National Government creates an enviroment where employers are emboldened to strip out costs from the wage bill ie a casualised labour force reduces the legal requirement to pay holiday or sick leave entitlements as well as any redundancy clauses if applicable. In addition to that employers can manipulate an employee’s hours of work by spreading the hours over a seven day cycle thereby eliminating overtime payments and day in lieu requirements.
    What this means for the average employee is that you will not have job security, and your carrer opportunities are curtailed. This will result in increased competitiveness between employee’s who will be competing for hours and entitlements. The flow on effect from that is a reduction in services some companies may provide to customers as well as creating a hostile workplace for employee’s.
    The solution is to leave New Zealand and seek opportunities elsewhere ie Australia.

    Comment by Kevin — February 29, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  25. “This government are fucking clowns.”

    It’s not just the clowns. They’re fucking us all.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 29, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  26. “Denise Roche from the Greens is joining some of those dots, Danyl.”

    And concluding that the solution to them all is to charge for plastic bags in supermarkets, apparently.

    Comment by Hugh — February 29, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  27. Hi Ben, you mentioned that “My mother, a teacher, understands that teacher pay is going to be linked to post-education job outcomes of students” Is this a real policy or a potential possible maybe that the NZEI or PPTA are throwing around to scare their members?

    Comment by merv — February 29, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  28. The PSA played the brain-drain card during the 2011 election, and I’m not sure if anyone noticed it much. Still, Labour’s front bench could do worse than ask in Question Time how many sacked public servants have jumped the ditch.

    I also wonder if the ITF’s proposed port-of-convenience declaration, if carried out, will be half of Shearer’s problem solved. And, shock horror – trade unions, truckies, financial consultants and AKL CBD lobbyists have made for strange bedfellows and called for PoAL & the Auckland Council to consider what is tantamount to co-determination.

    If there’s only one label to stick on Minister Bennett et al, it would have to be ‘goal post shifters’ – Training Incentive Allowance, much?

    Comment by DeepRed — February 29, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

  29. #21. Jezzus! How about we devise some measurable outcomes and penalties for the bloody pollies – for example, every time the unemployment rate exceeds a set threshold for a defined period of time they are docked five percent of their ill-gotten taxpayer paid gains?

    Comment by Moko-lover — February 29, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  30. …join the dots between (a) our low wage economy, (b) National’s welfare policy, and (c) recent industrial disputes.

    It’s a real head-scratcher. If someone as low on the IQ scale as me can notice a relationship between successive govts’ efforts to push wages and conditions down, and poor pay and conditions driving a worker exodus to Australia, how hard can it be for the nation’s intelligentsia to figure out? Shouldn’t National be taking a hiding on this from all quarters right now?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 29, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  31. Pretend I’m really dumb – what is the link between National’s welfare policy and recent industrial disputes?

    Comment by Oh Busby — February 29, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  32. @ sanc

    I didn’t think the subtle distinction between NATURAL and UNNATURAL would matter to anyone who tries to make a partisan point about the “frequency of disasters like the Rena grounding and the death of 29 men at Pike River” and then compounds that by describing them as ‘increasing’. I suppose mathematically you are correct but statistically it’s probably a bit soon to call it a trend.

    Comment by insider — February 29, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  33. @ Insider

    Port of Tauranga has had three fatal accidents in the last 13 months, since they started using contractors rather than union staff. Because they are just contractors, it is easy for the employer to write off unsafe work conditions as the fault of irresponsible individuals, and its very difficult for workers to insist on proper health and safety precautions. I’d be surprised if Pike River – where the 17 year old miner who died was also a contractor – didn’t also reflect this toxic trend towards contracted labour, though I’ll wait for the commission’s findings before jumping to a conclusion on that one. It’s not just a matter of making partisan points – it’s a question of whether a whole century of labour law in New Zealand is being quietly thrown out the window.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — February 29, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

  34. what is the link between National’s welfare policy and recent industrial disputes?

    As the party of the farmers and employers, National’s job includes lowering the cost of labour by helping employers force down pay and conditions. Industrial disputes such as the one PoAL’s started by pushing for casualisation and contracting out, or the lockouts going on in the meat industry, are the “recent industrial disputes” part of it.

    However, the worse you make employment for the employees, the worse you have to make the experience of being out of work to ensure a supply of candidates desperate enough to take the jobs. Thus the “welfare policy” dot to be joined to the others. The “low wage economy” link is self-explanatory.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 29, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  35. @ Higgs

    I’d suggest your dismissal of management concerns because they are ‘just contractors’ might be more on your perception than on reality, based on my experience in private workplaces. You may have direct experience of POT though so happy to be corrected.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, huge swathes of teh NZ workforce have been increasingly not covered by unions and yet the trends for accidents is consistently downward. if your simple number were reflective of unionisation to deunionisation you’d expect to see that trend across all industries. But you don’t.

    Comment by insider — February 29, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  36. @ Higgs #33:
    The families of Brian Kevin Shannon, Walter Daniel Crosa and an unnamed sailor from China would likely agree.

    @ Psycho Milt #34: Once again, the ITF’s port of convenience declaration could prove a big spanner in the works. In before the irony of a financially globalist Govt making accusations of “foreign meddling in domestic affairs”.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 29, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

  37. Insider, are trends for workplace accidents consistently downwards? I thought it was the opposite, esp. with regard to serious accidents and fatalities. But happy to be corrected.

    Comment by Me Too — February 29, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  38. “The families of Brian Kevin Shannon, Walter Daniel Crosa and an unnamed sailor from China would likely agree.”

    Mr Shannon for sure. The other two? Based on the news story, probably and definitely not respectively.

    Comment by Tinakori — February 29, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  39. @Me Too

    I’m using ACC data from Stats NZ. Definitely down overall. Pike River obviously is a major divergence in that trend but in general down about 10% over the decade.

    http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Browse%20for%20stats/InjuryStatistics/HOTP10/InjuryStatistics10HOTP.pdf

    Comment by insider — February 29, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  40. I work at a hospital and a univesity and have seen no change in industrial relations from Labour to National. It was bad back then and it’s bad now.

    I’m really surpsrised National has not taken a huge scythe to the management of universities. They’ve got feudal management structures that gobble resources.

    It’s possible that industrial disputes are more fraught at present because our economy is in bad shap.

    Comment by NeilM — February 29, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  41. Wages are solely determined by supply & demand. Remove GST and wage rates will rise.

    Join the dots indeed.

    Comment by Simon — February 29, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

  42. 39 – no wonder the stats are down. That is because ACC is no longer accepting claims.

    Comment by Tim — February 29, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

  43. I normally scroll past Sanctuary’s posts for the same reason I avoid reading the Standard but has he/she explained how the Rena-crewed by filipinos, owned by Greeks and registered in Liberia was National’s fault?

    I seem to recall there was a fair bit of wailing about the time taken to get the recovery gear out to the Rena too and it was apparently symptomatic of rampant capitalism , Nationals failings etc etc and yet I’ve been following the recovery of the grounded liner in italy and they don’t seem to be setting any speed records even though that thing ended up on the beach..

    The rest of the responses have been interesting, seeing a lot more wage workers shifting to contracting in my industry too.

    Comment by Raumatibeach — February 29, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  44. I work at a hospital and a univesity and have seen no change in industrial relations from Labour to National.

    I work at a university, and one of the perks is that these kind of public-sector institutions (also eg hospitals) are still largely unionised and are in any case well insulated from the kind of shit going down at PoAL and Affco. You’re right to some extent though – Labour have actually helped with de-unionising the workforce and seem happy to live with the accompanying low-wage economy.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 29, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  45. Hey, perhaps we can have “neutral” Human Resources Managers, now that the Government are cutting jobs across a variety of departments, they can stem the flow of their former employees to the dole queues by placing them compulsorily in companies as HR Managers instead!

    Comment by Daniel Lang — March 1, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  46. PM, universities are not in the same boat as hospitals. You are a direct employee of the university in your library, no? Is the cook in the Hospital kitchen a direct employee of the hospital? I’d venture that they are employed by a company that has won the contract to run the kitchens. I pick on uni libraries v hospital kitchen as they are both integral to the larger campus, unlike say a uni kitchen or a hospital library. So maybe the leason is, as neilM suggests, that unis should watch out: they may be next.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 1, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  47. WRT the original post: This is the elephant in the room. It’s obvious to even clueless people that sacking people, driving down wages and cutting working conditions isn’t going to make Kiwis wages higher or New Zealand more prosperous. It certainly WILL make it easier for the small group at the top to dictate everything that matters to everyone else. It’s the Big Lie at the heart of National’s whole economic approach…….and does raise the question as to whether Labour’s approach is really any different. I’d like to hear more about that than rhetoric.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — March 1, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  48. vote for danyl

    also see: fine with slave shipping, police for protecting property rights, deportation as a legitimate punishment for stealing bread and in the new world of text there is no Dickens…

    Comment by sheesh — March 1, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  49. though Shearer isn’t really sure about these being bad things? When will we hear what’s going on with that?

    Comment by sheesh — March 1, 2012 @ 5:14 pm


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