Yesterday’s CTU employment relations debate was reported as feisty, but it felt fairly tame compared to union election debates of yore. There were a couple of heckles, mostly just rude and abusive rather than the traditionally to be expected gruffly humorous or vaguely threatening. There were a plethora leaflets being handed out from the Greens, Labour, the Alliance, and RAM (the last two were aggrieved at being excluded from the debate) so each attendee walked away with a veritable tree’s worth of literature.
What struck me was that Labour and the Progressives have got a down a tidy patter talking about the achievements they have won and attacking National for wanting to take away those gains. Their campaign is basically shaping up as a list of achievements and attacks.
Whereas, by comparison, Sue’s answers to questions were essentially forward looking – what can we achieve next? She talked about improving the Employment Relations Act, starting work on a 35 hour week, creating a new Mondayised holiday for workers, lifting the minimum wage to $15 and extending paid parental leave.
That practical positivity accords with what Ben Thomas noted in the NBR recently:
But where are the government’s new ideas coming from to continue the dream of moderate social democracy it has been working on for nine years?
At least as far as its key area of employment relations is concerned, the answer is probably – the Greens. To a large extent the Labour government has outsourced its industrial relations policy-making to the Greens over the last three years.
Labour’s campaign strategy is fine is fine as far as it goes. In the area of employment relations there are significant differences to highlight between the Labour Progressive government and the National party. And I’m sure it’s got more policy to come. But Sue’s positive and, dare I say it, ambitious approach seemed to go down well with workers and union members yesterday.
Photo credit: Finsec