Labour’s Industrial Relations Policy

October 18th, 2011 at 3:43 pm by David Farrar

This policy is so backwards, so appalling and so one-sided I don’t even know where to start. It is clear that the have written this, because they have got everything they could think of.  The policy is here.

It includes:

  • A 15.3% increase in the minimum wage, including for youth.
  • will appoint those union bosses who fail to make their caucus to a new Workplace Commission that will have the power to determine Industry Standard Agreements for entire industries – unionised or not. This is all but a return to the days of national awards. No employer and employee will be able to agree to terms less than those set out by the Workplace Commission
  • The Workplace Commission will be able to set a standard for an industry for “union rights”. This could mean anything, from employers forced to fund unions themselves directly to guaranteed access to any workplace at anytime for recruitment purposes.
  • The Government will fund unions (“provide resources”) s they can better understand the new law and “build capacity for negotiations”. This means hire more staff. The same staff who come election time turn out en masse for Labour putting up their hoardings, using union vehicles etc etc. This is Labour’s backdoor funding of itself.
  • Workers who are not in unions will be “provided with information and advice about joining the relevant unions”
  • Will repeal the 90 days laws, despite the evidence that 40% of those hired under it would not have had job offers without it
  • Labour will legislate to allow contractors to collectively bargain, as the Australian actors union demanded. Goodbye Wellington and NZ film industry. They really are Hobbit haters.
  • State agencies will be told to blacklist companies who tender for work if they are seen as anti-union (‘not respecting the right of their employees to join a union”)

This is their worst policy, by far. The unions are getting their payback for their many donations to Labour – not just money, but especially of personnel and buildings and vehicles. Remember many of the unions are actual affiliate members of Labour, so the more employees they push into union membership the more money Labour gets from those unions in membership subs. This policy is all about appeasing the union masters.

I never thought I would see the day that a party (other than Mana) would effectively propose a return to national awards. Here’s what those good old days looked like:

The only good thing about the policy, is it should send Labour down in the polls further. The Roy Morgan poll out today has just had them drop to 28%.

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51 Responses to “Labour’s Industrial Relations Policy”

  1. sbw (44 comments) says:

    ‘Equally, a return to compulsory unionism is not the answer” – Phil Goff.

    So why doesn’t that apply to students?

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  2. PaulL (5,774 comments) says:

    Labour’s policies aren’t about winning. They are about shoring up the base in the face of bleeding to the Greens and Mana. A policy like this one cannot win an election, but it can pull in funding from unions, and keep the base loyal. It’ll be gone if they look like getting near power.

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  3. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    Excellent. I assume their foreign policy will iniclude full bilateral arrangements with that other workers’ paradice North Korea.

    Glass half full – they go out with all these loopy policies, get their arse handed to them by the electorate and next time are a bit more sensible.

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  4. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Where does the government stand on auto-enrollment for joining student unions?

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  5. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    As the Labour policy makes clear “As the wage gap grows, those in the lower and middle parts of the income distribution are
    encouraged to borrow more to keep up with society‟s standard of living expectations.”

    So really it’s society’s fault for creating all these standard of living expectations. We should arrest them.

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  6. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    @ Murray not so far forward that they were prepared to enact it as a government bill apparently.

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  7. tvb (3,938 comments) says:

    The Labour Party want to give the Unions the rights powers and privileges of the medieval church. This is against the background of declining membership and influence. They fought tooth and nail to keep student unions compulsory because they want the income. The Labour Party are still in denial over their hard left agenda.

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  8. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    I tend to agree with @PaulL

    I’m sure if Labour formed the government we would see a few elements of this implemented (enough to horrify DPF and convince the unions that they’d pushed some of their hobby horses) but the reality is (at the risk of sounding like JK) they were in power for nine years, if all this was such a priority why didn’t they make these changes then…?

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  9. Inventory2 (9,788 comments) says:

    As an employer, if I have to give my office junior (on the minimum wage) a rise to $15.00 per hour, how much more will I have to pay the accounts clerk currently earning $16/hour, and the office manager who is on $20/hour? Do they all get a 15% increase is well, or do they lose the margin which they have earned because of the value that they add to my business?

    Has Labour even thought of the inflationary effect of this policy, or the difficulty it will place many small business owners under, given that the economy is not exactly fizzing at the moment, and compensatory 15% price increases are out of the question?

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  10. Other_Andy (2,079 comments) says:

    Is Labour trying to outdo the Greens and Mana?
    Labour seems to be shifting more to the ‘left’ by the day trying to outdo the Greens and Mana in outrageous policies.

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  11. Other_Andy (2,079 comments) says:

    Inventory2 (6,886) Says:

    “As an employer, if I have to give my office junior (on the minimum wage) a rise to $15.00 per hour, how much more will I have to pay the accounts clerk currently earning $16/hour, and the office manager who is on $20/hour? Do they all get a 15% increase is well, or do they lose the margin which they have earned because of the value that they add to my business?”

    Stop asking sensible questions IV2!

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  12. Pete George (21,804 comments) says:

    IV2, they mustn’t have thought of inflation, they have been stuck on $15 for quite a while now.

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  13. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    Inflation will be illegal as the price of all goods and services will be set centrally. There is no inflation in a workers’ paradise

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  14. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    @ IV2 – the correct answer is to fire your office junior and make your own damn coffee.

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  15. Inventory2 (9,788 comments) says:

    @ KiwiGreg; and there will be employers who will do just that if they have to pay $15/hr for an unskilled school leaver. Or they simply won’t hire anyone. How is that going to help young people enter the workforce?

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  16. Mighty_Kites (77 comments) says:

    So the Business Roundtable is allowed to dictate the policy direction of successive National Governments since 1990 but when the unions have a say in Labour Party everyone is outraged? National Party hypocrisy shines through yet again

    [DPF: Mate have you been stuck in a cave for 20 years? The BRT is a major critic of National's policy timidity. And they have never donated one cent to National - they do not donate money. Unlike the unions who donate money, staff, vehicles and buildings to Labour - and often pay membership dues also]

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  17. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    LOL sadly the Business Roundtable has had virtually no impact on National Party policy, I wish it had. The last government the BRT influenced was the only good Labour one.

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  18. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    @ IV2 union policies are designed to help working union members. They dont give a shit about those not in work or who cant get work as a result of them. Look at Spain and the two economy system of the fortunate few (mostly, of course, working for the government) and the uncontracted many.

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  19. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    Excellent policy announcement from Labour.

    I want their party bigwigs to have the experience of seeing a staunchly pro-union policy be utterly rejected by the voters.

    Maybe that will wake them up to the reality that the political left in 2011 needs to be about something other than old-school unionism…

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  20. Pete George (21,804 comments) says:

    Mighty_Kites – the main problem here is that the Unions/Labour are proposing the dictating labour controls and wages that didn’t work successfully half a century ago.

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  21. jaba (2,068 comments) says:

    it’s amazing how what I2 has said isn’t mentioned more. The Nats need to highlight that fact every time the Labour/Green/Mana parties mention the large % increase to the minimum wage

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  22. Other_Andy (2,079 comments) says:

    KiwiGreg Says:

    “IV2 – the correct answer is to fire your office junior and make your own damn coffee.”

    Nope, won’t work.
    Even if you fire the office junior (Which will be ‘verboten’ under Labour anyway) you will still have to pay the rest $ 15 an hour more.

    So, the correct answer is that you close the whole office and relocate to Fiji, the Phillipines or another place that values your business.

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  23. Martin Gibson (206 comments) says:

    I guess most of the people pushing the minimum wage hikes have never had to pay wages and had the experience of being unable to pay their best workers what they are worth because they’re paying their worst workers what they’re not worth.

    It’s tough to see that happen, and it happens a lot. Eventually the performance of your best workers trends toward the performance of your worst ones, and who can blame them?

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  24. Nick R (443 comments) says:

    This policy won’t send Labour any further down in the polls because (a) most people thinking of voting Labour are either pro-union or don’t care and (b) the only part people will focus on is the promise to Monday-ise Waitangi Day and ANZAC day, which DPF didn’t mention.

    I like (b), and I don’t care about the rest. Which I’m guessing will be how a lot of people (other than business owners) will respond.

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  25. Elaycee (4,066 comments) says:

    @Inventory2 – according to Labour, the answer to your query about relativities, is obvious.

    Because you have a business, you are clearly one of the evil, business owners the left has decided can afford to pay employees whatever the Unions deem appropriate and you’ll just have to absorb the costs. But you won’t be able to recover any such increases because that would be inflationary and any increase in commodity prices would affect the low paid (and beneficiaries) anyway. So, (according to the leftard’s book on business) you’ll just have to defer the purchase of your new Lexus / BMW / Merc and you won’t be able to take the family on those holidays overseas etc etc etc. You know the drill. Its pathetic.

    This proposed policy is inept. Its all about give give give to the constituent bludgers within the Labour voter base, coupled with the usual expectation that the poor buggers that work hard to generate revenue and create jobs, will pick up the tab.

    And they would have us believe they are fit for office? Cue: Tui billboard.

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  26. s.russell (1,486 comments) says:

    I think PaulL is right here. This policy is not about winning the election – it is about protecting the base, and pleasing the unions.

    I have no doubt though, that Labour hopes that by fudging the language ordinary Kiwis will fail to recognise what they are really promising. They will hope that mainstream media ignore the policy and only the unions notice. Failing that, expect lots of waffle and spin to try and disguise the reality.

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  27. wat dabney (3,439 comments) says:

    Shameless special-interest groups seeking to hijack the government and plunder the workers.

    The technical term for the state-directed economy they propose is ‘fascist.’

    Under current legislation we have some protection from the unions and our individual rights are partially protected. But if they manage to get their Labour Party puppet installed we’ll basically have to do what they tell us.

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  28. simonway (356 comments) says:

    The LRA and ECA were comprehensive reforms of industrial relations, no? Seems silly to blame all those strikes on just the award system. Do you not think legal union shops had anything to do with it?

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  29. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    Ah….1977…..those were the days brothers…the ferries and the planes out every school holiday; the BNZ “hole in the ground” that became – eventually – the last ever steel framed highrise built in NZ because of Con Devitt and his “boilermakers”…When even oil rig workers had “expense accounts” to avoid ridiculous tax rates; when a small country trucking business whose workers lived next door had to pay what Bill Andersen negotiated for the Northern Drivers Union…the days when anyone who actually ASKED for a secret ballot at a union meeting in accordance with the rules was given a “hiding”, and chastised by hard faced poms dressed in immaculately clean “working” clothes…guys none of us had ever seen before or after the meeting….Brothers Unite!

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  30. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    The young Labour stars on the list must be fucking livid at the union idiots.

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  31. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    “Labour’s young stars”…who would they be? Ardern, Hipkins Sepuloni…they’d all LOVE to return to industrial relations a la 1975!!

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  32. Monty (944 comments) says:

    Is Darien Fenton behind this? has this policy cluster fuck been run past Phil Goff, or is he completely in the dark about it?

    Will labour accept that when they get thrashed in the election that this policy is also rejected bynthe electorate and drop it, or with no new blood will they persist in their belief that the electorate is wrong, and it is only a matter of time before the electorate come around to realize they have made a mistake by voting for the Nats?

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  33. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    I was a union rep in the old PO Union in the 80s – they took my money by force so I thought I might like to see how the thing worked. I never met a more venal, self-serving bunch than the “head office” union goons who used to come and preach socialism to us. And yes, apart from one really fat maori guy who actually was a personable and reasonable joker, they all seemed to be Poms.

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  34. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    Labour – Tresaury benches -next time – approximately 2038

    Cloth caps and roll your owns, pommy immigrants, strikes, beer gutted morons, institutionalised theft and rorts, violence and ignorance – unions as I remember them when I joined the work force in 1977

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  35. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    Pauleast: I think some of the problem might be that the “young stars” actually have no idea of how these policies would work in practice; their heads are full of political theory and rhetoric about “the workers”…or am I being too charitable? Surely no-one with any brain would want to go back to the union paralysis of the 70′s? It was the poor bastards who had no real skills to sell and no resources to get them through lenghty strikes who really suffered…

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  36. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    DG
    At any strike the only ones who ever had the price of a beer were the Union officials

    The greatest piece of writing that epitomizes the wet brain union rep is a chapter in ” Last Exit to Brooklyn” by Hubert Selby Jr. Simply stunning.

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  37. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    Remember Jim Knox? The face of organized labour in the mid 70′s…Lange has written that he was completely unable to follow a coherent argument, much less make one…

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  38. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    If we are going to talk bastards, you need go no further than Pat Kelly

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  39. David Garrett (5,120 comments) says:

    Yep….Pat was the epitome of the cloth capped class-struggle-importer….I could never work out if his daughter is considerably more realistic hthan he or if she is just more devious and better at spin……

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  40. Viking2 (10,709 comments) says:

    Well that a=====e Middlemass is still around. He managed to close a few meat plants and he is currently going about his work again in Palmerston.

    Unfortunately younger people have no idea what absolute arseholes these people were. Never met a decent one among them.
    And their interest was never about the working person but about themselves and their self interested politics of communism as it was then.

    The only thing I ever liked Bill Birch for was for introducing the Contracts Act. It went a long way to restoring industrial harmony and common sense to employer and employee relationships. It did leave little protection for the weaker members of the workforce, which, IMHO was its ultimate downfall. Had that issue been addressed it would have survived today.

    We actually need to return to some of its terms. There is no reason why two consenting adults shouldn’t be able to negotiate terms and conditions of employment when the majority are already set down in statute.

    If its not rolled back then little by little it will return to the bad old days.

    The biggest change that is needed urgently is to return to youth rates so young people can be employed to learn in the real world and the schools can stop failing them. It will have to hasppen as schools are rapidly running out of teachers and classrooms as young people remain filling in their day doing SFA. No profit for anyone except school teachers.

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  41. slightlyrighty (2,448 comments) says:

    The Dept of Labour Website links to Cabinet discussion documents on the minimum wage under the last Labour Government. (Just search under “Minimum Wage”). Labour refused to raise the minimum wage to the maximum demaded by unions because they believed that it would cause a spike in inflation and a loss of jobs.

    They knew what the effects would be. They still do. They don’t care.

    These idiots should not be let anywhere near the treasury benches, and if they keep coming out with policy like this, they won’t.

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  42. Pauleastbay (5,030 comments) says:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/rural/3936144/Meet-Palmys-newest-union-rep

    Have a look at this clown and you know unions have not changed one iota

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  43. kowtow (6,690 comments) says:

    Title of graph…….

    person days……WTF!

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  44. wreck1080 (3,522 comments) says:

    This is traditional labour, better than the other labour…

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  45. Bogusnews (425 comments) says:

    I believe the Clarke Govt was the most incompetent government in NZ’s history. They squandered the best economic years and left us with nothing. Even the massive increase in govt expenditure resulted in no useful increase in productivity (eg hospital spending up 4Bil yet the waiting list increased from 100K to 180k etc).
    This is yet further evidence they are like a neutered dog, they just don’t get it.

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  46. awb (298 comments) says:

    Bogusnews – Yes, Clark/Cullen left us with nothing but a surplus.

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  47. Inventory2 (9,788 comments) says:

    Bullshit awb; have you forgotten the Decade of Deficits; Michael Cullen’s parting gift to New Zealand?

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/10/prefu_ten_years_of_deficits.html

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  48. awb (298 comments) says:

    Inventory2 – Didn’t realise they had gone into debt by the end, though I suppose it makes sense. No I was more talking about the years where ‘chewing gum’ budgets were delivered, National were screaming for Cullen to spend more though he prudently kept things tight and kept us in surplus. Funny how cyclical these things are between the two major parties.

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  49. dog_eat_dog (677 comments) says:

    AWB – Cullen neglected the power of the state to service debt as opposed to individuals. If Cullen had returned some of that money back to the population, our private debt wouldn’t be as bad as it is now. We basically bankrolled their spending at the expense of our assets’ leveraging.

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  50. KiwiGreg (3,129 comments) says:

    That’s a pretty selective or defective memory AWB. What was actually wanted was tax cuts. No one would accuse Cullen of not spending our money like a drunken sailor.

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  51. Max Call (212 comments) says:

    “The biggest change that is needed urgently is to return to youth rates so young people can be employed to learn in the real world and the schools can stop failing them. It will have to hasppen as schools are rapidly running out of teachers and classrooms as young people remain filling in their day doing SFA. No profit for anyone except school teachers.”

    What a load of rubbish!
    We don’t want students (17 and 18 years old) who don’t want to be at school and are not focussed on achieving. We do not profit at all from this. In fact it creates a heap of work.
    What are you basing your statement on?
    Yes, some youth are being failed by their schools – but this is only part of their problem. Not just the schools! Their families and communities must take responsibility also. Schools can not do everything and be everything to all. Schools do not exist in a vacuum.
    The students who are not doing well in the school I teach at (which has over 1000 students) are by and large the students who have attendance ‘issues’. Often their parents are complicit in this. Trying to address these ‘issues’ takes a large amount of resources. Resources such as electronic attendance which texts parents about absent students, an attendance officer, deans liaising with families, agencies etc plus much more.

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