55 Comments Posted

  1. I don’t think so,
    Honestly, Putting aside the political part of it I just wonder whether that was the right spot to protest at purely because of that reason, and protesting just around the corner probably would have been more effective but maybe sky city wasn’t going to let that happen?

    I feel sorry for the sparrows injured by the loud noise too…I can’t comment on the protesters themselves except I think there was a guy there whose leaflets strongly remind me of a commentator from kiwiblog

  2. stephensmikm

    Clutching at straws much.
    I too was deeply concerned at the effect the Very Loud Protest that my Grandmother Wouldn’t Have Approved of, had on the tiny sparrow I saw huddled on the ledge nearby to the Rough Protesters.
    What had that small bird Done to Deserve such Uncouth treatment?
    Protest and Protesters! Neither looked as though they’d had a bath in Months!

  3. Sprout,

    My experience of modern unions is that they’re too scared to lose a fight. Maybe its just that the people I work with are not the militant type; things might be different in other industries.

    I’ve been at union meetings where the organisers have told us that industrial action is too risky; if we lose we’ll end up being perpetually shafted by the bosses. This is despite a majority of the staff voting to take industrial action. Naturally people listen to what the organisers say, and take the “measured and professional approach” (to use your words). The end result is that every year we lose a little bit of ground; pay rates go down in real terms, and conditions are gradually eroded.

    I tend to be more of the “if you don’t fight you lose” school of thought. I’ve experienced the results of the “measured and professional” approach; its the cost of living rising faster than one’s pay does. For example, I have found that my pay rises almost exactly cover my rent rises … increases in everything else (food, water, power etc) mean that year by year the standard of living of someone at my pay scale goes down.

    Having said all that, I have no doubt that things would be much worse without the union. So, Dbuckley, labour unions are not “an anacronism from the 19th century whose day should well have passed”; they’re just not as effective as they could be.

  4. You know what?

    Putting aside the political nature of that protest and the things going on inside the convention centre I have to fell sorry for the jumper I saw doing the sky tower jump while who I believe (I didn’t get a good enough look) was Matt McCarten speaking and a bunch of yelling and screaming was going on from the 180 or so there (what I guessestimate) and I wonder whether that was the right thing to do , to protest right at that spot…what have the rich 7 day trip tourists done to deserve getting an earful about a policy about a government that has no significant tangible ploy and is in a language quite probably not spoken by the individual …

    As I say regardless of the protest I feel sorry for that jumper I saw, quite possibly many more will walk away in awe of NZ’s brilliant civility…Thailand anyone? It may not have been as extreme but certainly would have had echoes in their minds when they consider a return visit

  5. My experience of New Zealand’s union movement is that it is now dominated by professional and public service unions and most take a measured and professional approach to industrial relations. The CTU contributed to the job summit in a useful and constructive way and teacher unions spend much of their time collaborating with the Education Ministry on professional issues.

    Militancy will probably occur however when reasonable means of communication and consultation are blocked, as is happening now.

  6. Yep the PSA, however my Public Service career was limited to Australia – I honestly can’t speak about the current situation in NZ.
    Though Governments come and go – our beauracracy remains in place and in power – often for life!
    I don’t include ‘workers’ so much as the top level of officials – they are the people who really run the country.
    It’s true of every ‘democracy’ I’ve seen.
    My experience of Senior Civil Servants in NZ is that they are not so militant, simply because they don’t need to be.
    However, the way Workplace Standards have been shredded in NZ – maybe I’d best do some more learning.
    Certainly our Minister in OZ had to have our ‘permission’ to make changes.

  7. Im not opposed to employers dismissing workers who really dont measure up.. but they should realise that in the first few weeks.. allowing employers to take on workers under a pretense its a permanent job (but in reality its a three month stop-gap during a busy period) then giving them the boot when the workload runs low is plain dishonest on the Employers side.. Key is restoring the master/servant mentality (19th century)
    This govt. is moving towards making workers into ‘second-class’ citizens.. “look out all you honest hardworking kiwis..” dont let apathy rule the day.. Kia-ora

  8. Labour unions are an anacronism from the 19th century whose day should well have passed.

    Yet somehow in the 21st century in New Zealand we still have 19th century employers and 19th century employees.


  9. Sprout says “New Zealand currently has a growing workforce who receive minimal wages, ”

    You want higher wages,

    AND you want

    1/ laws that force companies to hold onto useless workers which makes them less productive.
    2/ laws that stop workers on the fringes being given a chance with trial periods

    The employment laws you want will lead to lower wages – not higher ones.

  10. Mark,

    I was a member of the PSA (if that’s the union you are referring to). I don’t think the word militant was in their vocabulary. Indeed, whilst I was a member I really wondered if they were doing more harm to our pay and conditions than good.

  11. Sprout,

    Indeed, more evidence is needed. Sadly, this is the case with most, if not all, things.

    As to personal experience, it is entirely possible that my sample is so restricted as to be biased; I will have to grant greater credence to your experience given your cited field. As usual, I am working from a mostly theoretical base.

  12. By far the most militant Unions I have run across exist within the Public Service; nothing in the Private Sector comes close.
    Our ‘Servants’ uphold their right to waste Public Money by the Truckload

  13. “I’m not sure what you’re on about here. Isn’t an ineffective and poorly performing union the boss’ best

    Samiuela-Very possibly, just making the point that robust employment process is important to protect all parties especially when we can’t rely on good behaviour on either side.

  14. Sapient-I do feel that employers have an unfair advantage in the current climate and, in my experience as an advocate for those experiencing employment issues , the majority of my cases have been in situations where the employee has genuinely experienced unjustified treatment from an employer. In the few cases where the employee is most likely at fault the employer could have dismissed the employee far more quickly if they had followed due process.

    The fact is that probationary and trial systems have been around for some time and of course employers would like the current system where they have few responsibilities. Even the shonky research that revealed that 40% employment figure also found that over 20% of employees were dismissed before the 90 days and we have no way of knowing how justified the dismissals were. Even if 5% were dismissed wrongly it is still too many. I agree with Frog and Toad we can’t rely on hearsay and anecdotal accounts we need proper, unbiased evdidence of what has been really happening.

  15. Sprout,

    You wrote “We have to also accept that while there are numerous bad employers there are also ineffective and poorly performing unions.”

    I’m not sure what you’re on about here. Isn’t an ineffective and poorly performing union the boss’ best friend?

  16. Sprout,

    I will admit that the lack of fair process does cause me concern. I do not like the idea of employers essentially blackmailing their employees with unemployment where the requests being made are obviously outside of the contractual agreement. Likewise, I do not like that a lazy employee can essentially hold the employer to ransom with threats of legal expenses or strike.

    Outside of areas where your output is rather explicit, it is incredibly hard to prove that an employee is, or is not, meeting expectations in a manner suitable for court; especially where the expectations are not stated in contract. The risks associated with an employee whom consistently under-performs, deliberately or not, are simply too large if the employer is not able to rid themselves of that liability. Even the warnings system, when uncontested, can result in massive costs for smaller employers.

    The issue becomes, to me, how to benefit both positive groups the most. The hard working but risky employee whom gets a job under this scheme would have benefited greatly personally, as would the employer. The fair employer would benefit greatly in being able to give people a chance and potentially get great employees while not having to tolerate and support the poor employees whom not only cost the employer but are to the detriment of the whole work place. The people whom lose out are the poor employees and the good employees whom are on the receiving end of a, slightly more powerful, blackmailing boss. I would add to this last part that the blackmailing boss already had these powers through the warning system and through being able to make the employees life hell.

    All systems will have failures, but I think this one is relatively fair; its benefit to cost ratio may be better if left to only small employers, but even so the ratio may be superior to the previous system. I think that we could certainly have a better system, and a few come to mind, but they all come with their own costs and exploits.

  17. “Sprout, That is simply not the case, a good employer can easily have no relations with a union.”

    Sapient, you are perfectly right and I think what I said wouldn’t exclude such a situation. There are many non-unionised workforces that are treated well by employers and no union involvment could also be defined as a good relationship, especially if there is no need for union intervention. In most situations, from my experience, conflicts between unions and employers are usually a sign that there is a real employment issue.

    Employment relationships have always got potential for conflict and abuse and the best way to manage and avoid such situations is to have good process that protects both parties. What National proposes may indeed be helpful for a large number of workers and businesses but there is also a lack of fair process that favours bad employers and makes many workers highly vulnerable.

    We have to also accept that while there are numerous bad employers there are also ineffective and poorly performing unions. I dislike calling all employers bad and am equally frustrated when people lump all unions together in damning generalisations. It is sound employment law that provides a safety net and protection for all and with the current 90 day legislation there are no protections for unfair dismissal. It is also hard to hear of all the situations of abuse, not because they don’t occur, but because the most vulnerable or marginalised workers aren’t unionised and don’t make a fuss because of their marginalised status.

    New Zealand currently has a growing workforce who receive minimal wages, work long hours and often have multiple jobs to survive. This large section of our society are often not unionised and remain ignorant of many of their rights (I think this ignorance is often actively encouraged). A huge proportion of our children are growing up in struggling households and most that National has done while in power has supported the expansion of this section of society. I don’t think this government really wants to compete with Australia as regards wages, China appears the current model.

  18. PM,

    Both wings have Jews; the right have the lazy worker and the left have the exploitive capitalist. The folly of the partisan is that they see their Jews as more prevalent than in reality and the Jews of the other as less prevalent than in reality. The less partisan one is, the closer the perception of Jew numbers reflects reality.

    There are certainly many exploitive employers, but there are also many employers whom try to do the best for their staff. Many of those employers whom try to do the best for their staff are disadvantaged by the occasional lazy worker who ruins it for both the good employer and the good worker. Likewise, there are certainly many lazy or exploitive workers, but they are hardly the rule and in many cases are made such by the exploitive employers.

    I do not think that this “90-day scam” is about widening the gap at all, but it is certainly about decreasing the costs of labour. That is to say, it is about decreasing the risks associated with getting a bad apple. In decreasing these risks it becomes more practical to employ populations with greater probabilities of bad apples.

  19. Hi all. I’d like to fly a kite. Perhaps both of the following are true:

    – the policy “has ensured that a lot more New Zealanders have the opportunity to engage in work”

    – not “the policy is highly sucessful(sic) at creating jobs”

    It could be that the policy enables employers to employ the same number of people, but to hire further down the job market, where people are cheaper.

    If so then, over time, it will reduce the premium for being a worker with a track-record.

    If so, then:
    – it will probably change the pattern of consumption, because the new workers will (likely) be younger and want different things
    – it will probably make families worse off, because the workers with track records are likely to be the existing parents

    I think there are justice issues that cut both ways in this argument. Is this a place where we can have a conversation about them.

  20. This is just another case of the new Jew for the new war. Pick on the ‘bad’ worker and everyone else is the hardworking taxpayer. Everyone seems to forget that they as workers will eventually come up against this dodgy 90day employer scam as Key begins to tighten the screws to please his moneylenders for the next election campaign. People on good wages have sons and daughters entering the work-force. They will soon see how little power their children have in getting ahead unless they themselves have the money to help them or the business to employ them in.

    And that’s what this 90day scam is really about – widening the gap. Cheapening the labour costs. Disempowering the mass of workers who rely on jobs to survive, never mind to live the good life that is marketed to them as being the overcoat of success, and one of the major reasons, since time began(to keep up with the Jones’s or the Cunningham-Smiths)and the huge debt bill the banks and retailers have beguiled us with as needing. This will lead to societal division even larger than we have now and that is when the law will step in with even more draconian measures to control those cast aside, their overcoats threadbare.

    This country is becoming America.

  21. Sprout,

    That is simply not the case, a good employer can easily have no relations with a union. The biggest non-academic place I’ve worked, 200+, never had a single stir of unionism but was a very good place to work if you were willing to put in some effort. They were even sufficiently flexible that when my illness got to the point that I was missing half of my shifts, they were okay with it (eventually I quit and went on the student loan because I felt it was simply too unfair on them). They had a couple of staff-elected representatives on the board (though few of the staff actually knew this 😛 ) but that is about the extent of it.

    In fact, if one excludes academia, the only interaction I have had with unions has been when I was dating a union rep. [That was very interesting by the way; a young ideological girl takes the extra burden on herself to try and improve the conditions of her fellow workers and then finds out what unions are really like and becomes dispirited]. If one includes academia then I have had the equal pay for equal work (not gender, but for the same job) stickers all over my door (ergh!) and MUSA; in the first instance the union promoted nothing but absolute stupidity and a very good way to loose the better lecturers and researchers and in the second instance the union has done very little other than waste money building carriers for its officials and claiming that its (vastly marked up, and in many cases monopolized) revenue streams are a gift to students.

    There are certainly potential issues of employers abusing this 90-day period, but I would point out that there has long been routes which would serve a similar purpose which could easily be taken by employers if they intended to retain employees only if they offered, for example, sexual services. That aside, job security should be assured by working hard and making a contribution, not by virtue of being employed in the first place; 90 days is, perhaps, overly generous to the employee; I have worked in low-end and relatively high-end jobs and I have seen exactly how employees, once protected, will do all that they can to dodge work.

    I think a period such as this is needed, it would certainly benefit me; there is no way in hell that any employer would employ me without some trial period; my health is simply too poor for them to take the risk and hope that I can prove myself valuable.

    As to unions in the work place, there is no reason that the company should pay for their staff to consult with the union; if they want to do so they can do so in their own time; staff are paid to be productive, not to undermine the company trying to get more than they are worth.

  22. From The Standard:

    According to the Herald an EPMU flag-waving Sue Bradford and forty protesters broke through security.

    Principessa 3
    18 July 2010 at 12:44 pm
    Just a quick point of clarification- Sue Bradford was carrying an NDU flag not an EPMU one.

  23. Vulnerable workers need protection from exploitive employers and good employers need protection from bad employees. What National is proposing provides signaficant advantage for bad employers. Nothing is wrong with probation periods or trials but to have a system where a worker can be dismissed with no good reason is unacceptable. Good employers have good relationships with unions and bad employers don’t, providing a mechanism to limit access to unions will advantage bad employers. Simple!

  24. Labour and socialism will always support Capitalism – someone should tell the Greeks!
    I thought Keith was being paid to ask questions – unlike many who could get a job in Madame Tussauds – as wax dummies.
    Oh and Disneyland needs a new Goofy for the late shift.

  25. This is one of those issues where both sides are right in the sense that there are employers who should be melted down but there are also employers who will want to take marginal types on. The greens want a regime that will prevent any bad employer from exploiting a worker but to do that they have to diminish the credibility of the employers claim that they would give a marginal worker a chance. Most people would (in trying to assess the problem) stretch their minds to imagine the machinations of the world as it really is. I’m guessing that our core (“yeah right” 😉 ) greens have a golden rule that goes something like “capital will always exploit labour”?

  26. There are a large number of people who find it hard to get a job – perhaps they are unqualified for a position, or unskilled, have a bit of a record, a disability, or their english isn’t that good, or maybe they’re not too bright.

    If they want to be given a chance to prove they can do something, then tough. The Green Party wants to make it illegal for them to be given a chance with a trial.

    And why do the Green Party want to keep these people down? Because perhaps a small number of them who get a trial won’t move to permanent work.

    Better to keep them ALL unemployed, and sacrifice the large majority who DO get permanent jobs, rather than have a minority of trials that are unsuccessful.

    Better to sacrifice permanent work, because an unsuccessful trial means a few would end up …..well…..exactly where they already are now.

  27. Yesterday, Keith Locke lodged an Official Information request to the Minister of Labour for documentation relating to the monitoring and evaluation of the 90 day law.

    Let’s wait for the evidence, if any exists.
    [I seem to remember asking for evidence from Meteria turie that (essentially) the high crime rate attributed to Maori was the result of police bias and of Keith that arming police lead to an arms race with criminals.]

    Keith is on safe ground asking for the above as chances are decisions to hirer or not to higher will largely be subjective!

    Watermelons. False labelling!

  28. samiam – but as has been pointed out, it’s the exclusion of union reps from the workplace that will cause the trouble here.
    but it isn’t a total exclusion it is a “not when we’re busy” exclusion.

  29. Union reps? Most NZ workplaces are small. Neither the bosses, the workers or even the unions themselves could give a toss about unionism in these places.
    Big employers aren’t an area that I know about, apart from working as a pipe-fitter on BIG construction, unions never featured there, really.

  30. From the Conference: Those young Nats interviewed for The Nation.
    They just couldn’t stop talking about the environment! Environment, environment – it was clearly uppermost in their minds.

  31. The 90 day ‘right to hire’ is absolutely a winner. It becomes obvious, at times like this that too many of you Greenz have never been employers. I wonder if you have been employees even.
    As a boss I have in the past lived in fear of employing a looser. Knowing they had more rights than me, watching them sabotage my business with impunity while I have to walk in eggshells trying to deal with them.
    Interestingly, it’s their fellow workers that get the most aggravated. They have to work alongside the f’wit, they hate it, it mucks up a great workplace.
    90 days is really practical. Any worker dismissed in that period should take stock of why and move into their next employer’s trial period with a new attitude. It could be the best thing that ever happened to them (work skills wise, I mean).
    The Greenz should be supporting it. Here’s one occasion I feel you are plain wrong.

  32. frog and robertguyton:

    My first job was for a two person engineering contractor. I did their accounts while studying. At the time they wanted me to sign a load of contracts because they were fearful that I would turn out to be a dud and would then be unable to fire me. I am sure they would have much preferred to do the accounts themselves on the weekends, but by this time business was so good that they were working on the weekend.

    Needless to say, I was a good worker and they were happy with my efforts. Returning a little power to employers would be good in New Zealand. I continue to be an employee, not an employer, and I fully support National’s legislation.

    BTW. What does this have to do with conservation and protecting the environment? I hope that one day the real Green party will emerge and wrest power from this ‘green party’.

  33. frog says “Let’s wait for the evidence, if any exists.”

    Why wait for the evidence. Who cares if the policy is highly sucessful at creating jobs or not. Lets get as much noise to shout it down as possible. Who cares if it has meant thousands of unemployed have new jobs.

    Oh wait. You are doing that already.

  34. I have recognized a possible condition that appears to afflict some National Cabinet Ministers and their supporters. This condition could be a form of Tourette syndrome where the afflicted person involuntarily repeat (with some force) random statistics that have either a dubious source or are used out of context. Like many fundimentalist christians, who get strength from quoting random bible passages, these people are compelled to repeat these numbers as if they have some special, overwhelming power. The percentages 40% and 20% seem to have special significance for these sufferers. All attempts to discover the substance or real significance of these figures have currently failed.

    I think many sufferers will be meeting in the above tower. I think that there will be an attempt to rescue them but it is most likely too late.

  35. photonz1 @ 5:05 PM

    Your 40% figure is just employers’ spin, based on a supposed survey of employers (who will of course spin it to back their own policy), and the methodology of which hasn’t been released.

    John Key’s comment that the policy “has ensured that a lot more New Zealanders have the opportunity to engage in work” is also just spin – no evidence released to back it.

    As of April last year, the Government’s methodology for monitoring and evaluating the 90 day fire at will provisions looked pretty shonky. There may have been more monitoring and evaluative processes put in place since – at the moment, I don’t know.

    Yesterday, Keith Locke lodged an Official Information request to the Minister of Labour for documentation relating to the monitoring and evaluation of the 90 day law.

    Let’s wait for the evidence, if any exists.

    In the meantime, I think removing the rights of people to judicially challenge decisions that affect them adversely, without citing overwhelming evidence for the desirability of doing so, is a very poor look for democracy.

  36. robertguyton – rant rant rant.

    Shame you don’t really care about lots of new jobs for people who wouldn’t have otherwise had them.

    If you had your way 40% of the people who have new jobs would be on the dole.

  37. You and I both know photonz1, that this move by the National Party is the result of their core favouring of employers over employees. I have to assume you are the former and see that you will profit from National beefing up authority and power to employers. Your arguments are transparent as are your motives.
    You bore me and I suspect others, with your insistent pimping for inequality and greater power to the already powerful. get to the Tower photonz1 and join your authoritarian mates for their gloat-fest but have a look out the window while you are there and see that there are many people who see through your selfish ploy.

  38. Oh great – lets dump a law that’s been highly successful at getting people new jobs, and replace it with one where employers won’t hire them.

    Lets replace a law that leads to the most efficient workers being employed, and replace it with laws where companies are forced to be inefficient by having to hold onto useless staff they don’t want.

    Lets have MORE unemployment and INNEFFICIENT companies – that will help the country.

    Keith Locke shows he is totally out of his depth when he states the trail period law makes no difference to businesses.

    Proof to all that doesn’t have even the slightest idea of what he is talking about.

    The Green Party is noticaably lacking in business experience. They could do with a bit more.

    Though with these sort of ideas perhaps it’s best if they stay away from business.

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