Squashed

January 18th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Despite the considerable union influence within his party and calls for him to offer support to members, new leader has kept quiet on the matter.

Yesterday Labour industrial relations spokeswoman , who has been spotted on the picket line at the port, said her party was not taking sides in the dispute.

“We’ve been hoping that the parties will settle this, that they’ll find a way through this.”

You’ve been on the picket line, and now you’re saying you’re not taking sides? I think someone has squashed Darien.

Ms Fenton said Mr Shearer had been in regular touch with both sides, “and he’s in contact with me and we’re all discussing it regularly”.

“Our strong view at this point is it’s not helpful for politicians to get involved.”

Apart from being on the picket line?

I suspect that strong view is Mr Shearer’s.

Chris Trotter did an open letter to Shearer yesterday urging him to wade in:

Ultimately, isn’t it about answering the question: “Who is strong enough to stop the stone-throwers?” The men and women who formed the Labour Party in 1916 decided that the answer to that question was the State. If the State could be made to stop working for those who already exercised power, and began instead to work for those who were powerless, then a political party seeking to put an end to poverty, war and injustice would have a fighting chance.
Labour was formed to create a State that wasn’t neutral; a state that never stood on the side-lines when working people were being threatened and abused. Labour was about intervention: constant, massive, intelligent and creative intervention on behalf of the weak and against the strong.
It’s time to bid farewell to the white sands and the Pohutukawa blossoms, Mr Shearer, and come on down to the Auckland wharves. It’s time to cast aside the gathered cloaks of a spurious and culpable “neutrality” and place yourself and your party between the stone-throwers and their victims. It’s time to end the silence.
Chris writes beautifully, and his wonderfully penned missive almost had me wanting to rush down to the picket line. But the reality is that this is not a romantic battle between the forces of oppression and victims of oppression.
Shearer has made the right call staying out of it. If he rushed in, he would look like a puppet, not a principled politician.
And I’m not sure defending the right of people to be paid for 43 hours but only work 28 hours, is quite the same as being against the stoning of Christian martyrs, or seeing starving kids in the Sudan scrabbling over scraps of food.
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21 Responses to “Squashed”

  1. dog_eat_dog (761 comments) says:

    One of the various books in my boothroom reading pile is one on the industrial revolution, and it puts forward the theory that the reason early unions of artisans were initially illegal was because of the very real possibility of price-fixing for the costs of labour. It always amuses me when modern unions oppose what they believe is ‘the old boys network’, yet still fall back on the ‘If it weren’t for unions….’ comments when it comes to public holidays.

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  2. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    Yes, perhaps the wharfies should be transported to Australia for ‘forming an illegal combination’ – see Tolpuddle Martyrs.

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  3. RRM (9,661 comments) says:

    A Labour leader who’s seen what real hardship is (as opposed to Kiwi hardship) – good.

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  4. peterwn (3,213 comments) says:

    mikenmild – Well, Garry Parsloe has indicated they would go to Australia if the union does not get its way. Whether Aussie employers at Port Hedland, etc would have them would be another matter.

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  5. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    “his wonderfully penned missive almost had me wanting to rush down to the picket line”

    Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit…but can sometimes by funny :)

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  6. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    peterwn
    Are you suggesting NZ wharfies wouldn’t be able to cut it in the ultra-competitive, union-free, de-regulated, cutting edge environment that is the Australian waterfront?

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  7. Ed Snack (1,797 comments) says:

    Isn’t Trotter in this case arguing that those with the power (the Union Bosses) are to be opposed ?Or is someone going to argue that those unions don’t have significant power ? Looking at their current conditions I’d say that they have considerable power and have used it very much to their (and their members) advantage.

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  8. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    I suspect Labour is carrying out some polls to see whether there are any votes to be gained from this disupte. Hmmm how did that work for them in the last 3 years? Maybe if they developed a sense of social justice, they might have more success.

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  9. Pete George (23,326 comments) says:

    There’s some interesting comments on this here.

    Resident Standard poster Eddy is, actively dissuading political parties and activists from giving any support to the wharfies, calling on the Greens and even Occupy Activists to join the Labour Party in turning their back on these workers.

    The other nine mentions of Eddie in the post are spelt correctly.

    Solidarity forever. (Except when opposed).

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  10. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Not surprised that Trotter sees the state as one-and-the-same with his party, that was a common view amongst the far left of the 20th century. Historically that didn’t work out too well..

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  11. gravedodger (1,528 comments) says:

    Oh the irony two women, well allegedly, standing “Man to Man” with the wharfies with their men only workplace, teh.
    Fenton is a too, Kelly is looking for Hobbits.

    While the dynamic new leader is dribbling around ChCh South shore wondering what he could possibly say that was relevant.

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  12. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Labour was about intervention: constant, massive, intelligent and creative intervention on behalf of the weak and against the strong.

    Trotter: a socialist, a supporter of state intervention and class warfare.

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  13. Ed Snack (1,797 comments) says:

    Social Justice, a fine cloak to cover monopoly practices and general rorting under ain’t it. Social Justice to ensure that a small group of “workers” gets even higher wages for less work ?

    It may be “social” but it sure ain’t “justice”.

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  14. Nostalgia-NZ (5,044 comments) says:

    Sort of clever to suppose that Shearer should be intervening, but what about the PM? Key after all has a ‘mandate’ to privatise which is what this dispute has now revealed itself as. We have a port company undermining the possibility of a resolution by publicly attacking the wharfies, turning it into some kind of pr exercise to excite the masses, and the elected PM silent, while during the silence accusations are made against Shearer for not speaking out. Get use to it folks, it’s the nats positioning themselves further left while labour heads for the right – meanwhile, importers, exporters and manufactures lose money – without a single Government or local Government figure recommending, or ordering mediation.

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  15. Fisiani (993 comments) says:

    It seems Shearer can not control Darien Fenton. She has written a new post on Red Alert claiming that contracting out by POA could lead to fatalities. Seriously. Shroud waving and side taking. Shearer has been shown to be weak.

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/

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  16. Paulus (2,562 comments) says:

    Who is this bloke “Shearer” ? Is the the Lord High Wally of the Labour Party (sorry Parliamentary Labour Party)
    He cannot obviously control the Labour Caucus.
    We watch with interest (yea – ok Grant – working nicely).

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  17. thedavincimode (6,590 comments) says:

    Who is this bloke “Shearer?”

    Comes from an Italian migrant family. His surname is an anglicised version of the original family name :”Schettino”. Sadly the family has a genetic pre-disposition to poor navigation and maritime mishaps, which is why Shearer limits his nautical activities to long-boarding.

    One could forgive him for being so reluctant to involve himself in the POA issue given that industry’s proximity to the water however, his general confusion and lack of direction in campaigning for the Liebour leadership tends to suggest that this unfortunate family trait is not limited in its application to water-based activities.

    One hopes that he has the good sense to not take up tramping or orienteering in his quest to find the outdoor man within and thereby rally the voters to his banner.

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  18. nasska (10,910 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    It is possible that his proud, if somewhat flawed, navigational background may stand him in good stead as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

    I understand that the captain of the Costa Concordia managed to beat the ship’s rats off the doomed vessel by a considerable margin. As the good ship “Labour” approaches the 2014 elections bankrupt in policy, finances & members our stalwart hero will have the background to abandon ship with panache.

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  19. BeaB (2,082 comments) says:

    If Shearer can’t find something to say on this seminal issue then he might as well keep his trap shut for the rest of his term and go surfing instead. What a golden opportunity to talk about Labour values (I know – it’s an oxymoron) and make his mark. Instead he is nailing his colours to the bipartisan mast – so far, Christchurch, and the poverty committee.
    Perhaps he could go cap in hand to John Key and try to do a deal too, if there’s anything left after ACT and the Maori Party have had their go. Perhaps he’ll be happy just with sitting on any committee he’d like to be a member of.
    Wow, some leadership!

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  20. thedavincimode (6,590 comments) says:

    nasska

    Your ship’s rats reference is mis-placed in a Liebour context where it is in fact the ship’s rats throwing not just the passengers, but their own young overboard in order to protect their positions on board the sinking ship Costa Lataxpayer.

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  21. nasska (10,910 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    Indeed, I had underrated the low cunning, the back stabbing, the thieving, the feral instincts of the low life involved below the decks of the sinking ship.

    The rats aren’t much better.

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