The Press on Labour’s 1970s workplace policy

October 20th, 2011 at 8:25 am by David Farrar

editorial:

The Party claims its work and wages policy, which it released this week, will boost the country’s economic performance and generally provide a better future for workers. That is very unlikely. The policy’s strange mish-mash of bureaucratic centralised wage-setting, legislated higher minimum pay and repeal of some of the present Government’s liberalising workplace reforms has gruesome echoes of the unlovely 1970s. Far from being a forward-looking policy, as the leader, Phil Goff, has declared it to be, it recalls policies long thought dead and buried.

The policy has been welcomed by unions, as well it might be. It could well have been written by them.

I shudder at the thought of a union being able to go to a group of mates appointed by Labour and get them to set terms and conditions for an entire industry. Employers, no matter what their size or location or profitability, will suddenly have to comply with the dictates of this new commission.

According to Goff, the policy would help stem the flow of people to Australia. Given that the effect of much of it would be to price some jobs out of existence, quite how it would do this is unclear. Labour still does not appear to understand that it cannot legislate its way to prosperity.

It’s a basic concept, but one which seems alien to them.

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16 Responses to “The Press on Labour’s 1970s workplace policy”

  1. Linda Reid (415 comments) says:

    If any of them had ever actually owned a real business with employees, they would not promote this kind of rubbish.

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  2. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    I can’t work out if this is a SOP to the unions which Labour knows will never really happen because Labour won’t win, and will be different in three years. Or, if Labour is stupid enough to believe this is good for NZ. I’d like to see the media squarely canvas Cunliffe and Robinson and see how strongly they ACTUALLY support this.

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  3. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    Set national prices for an industry through national awards, impose import tarriffs so they can recover those costs through higher prices without import competition, put in place migration and currency controls so skilled workers cant immigrate, it’d be a workers’ paradise.

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  4. sthn.jeff (101 comments) says:

    “The policy has been welcomed by unions, as well it might be. It could well have been written by them.”

    An interesting comment. Felix Marwick noted earlier in the week that he received the Policy from Unions before he received it from the Labour Party!

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  5. Nigel (514 comments) says:

    Phil Goff is turning into a reincarnated Muldoon without the power or charisma ( thankfully ).

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  6. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    There must be someone within Labour’s ranks who knows what a turky this policy actually is, isn’t there?

    Anyone?

    Surely?

    I mean, they can’t all be that deluded, can they????

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  7. Nookin (3,341 comments) says:

    This is such a retrograde, stupid and divisive proposal that I have to wonder whether it is a deliberate ploy to clean out the cloth capped divisions of the Labor Party. Labour knows that it is going to lose this election. Damian O’Connor has already pointed out the factions. This proposal clearly comes from the “self-serving unionists”. The Employment Relations Act does have its flaws. Conceptually however the problem solving approach that it adopts is far more conducive to productivity than the ham-fisted approach that Labour now seem to be proposing. I suspect that we are now going to see internal dissent within the Labor Party and, following the election, labour will try to pitch much more strongly for the central ground.

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  8. Nookin (3,341 comments) says:

    Nigel:
    While I agree with your sentiment, I would be very surprised if Goff actually supports this policy.

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  9. Yvette (2,814 comments) says:

    Taking one aspect –
    At the moment those who want to make certain choices can work on the Hobbit films.
    Under Labour the films would disappear overseas. No one in New Zealand works on them.

    When Labour rolls and dumps Phil Goff for loosing the up-coming Election, will they claim that result to be just Goff or their policies – it will be interesting to see how they spin that.

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  10. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    Some of this will work because the bit they haven’t told you about is workplace subsidies to employers for hiring new staff.

    Anyone got any ideas who would wind up paying for that?

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  11. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Employers, no matter what their size or location or profitability, will suddenly have to comply with the dictates of this new commission.

    1. Any evidence that they will have to do it “suddenly”?

    2. Could someone explain how this sort of thing works in Australia? I know they have something like this, but is Labour’s version stronger or weaker than that in Australia?

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  12. unaha-closp (1,164 comments) says:

    The Labour Party are now Muldoonists?

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  13. marsman (9 comments) says:

    Anyone have a problem with the Business Round Table ( Union ) dictating policy to the National Party?

    [DPF: My God you people need to find a slogan that isn't 20 years out of date. It just makes you look like morons]

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  14. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “Anyone have a problem with the Business Round Table ( Union ) dictating policy to the National Party?”

    That’d be awesome if they did. The failure of the BRT to get pretty much any of their ideas accepted should put that to bed though. BTW a business “union” is called an illegal cartel.

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  15. robcarr (84 comments) says:

    @DPF the point of industry based standards is to not legislate our way to prosperity and instead have negotiated industry standards. The fact that it requires an industry to be mostly covered by collective agreements before they can even look at it and strike action around it would be illegal means there is little chance of it looking like Awards.

    @KiwiGreg a business union is called the EMA :P http://www.ema.co.nz/default.asp

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  16. David Farrar (1,894 comments) says:

    There is no need robcarr to strike for an industry standard award because the ex unionist on the Workplace Council can impose it unilaterally. This is in fact far worse than national awards which had to be agreed to.

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