Andrew Little attacks Labour’s record on wages

May 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

In a speech to various unions, has bemoaned:

last 20 years, bottom 50% of earners – their wages either stayed the same or went backwards …

The story of the last 20 years is it’s been tough on workers.

Labour were in office for nine of the last twenty years, so what is Andrew saying?

Is he saying that the last Labour Government (which he was President of the party for) failed to lift wages for low income workers?

Or is he saying that the EPMU, which he was the head of, failed to lift wages for their members?

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27 Responses to “Andrew Little attacks Labour’s record on wages”

  1. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    Under Labour a wedge was driven into NZ that opened the gap between rich & poor to levels never before seen in this country.

    Labour managed to do this during an economic boom across the Western world.

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  2. tvb (4,425 comments) says:

    I imagine drones who have low skills in an area where there is little demand for their services have not had much increase in their wages. The internet is changing everything. I heard there are 10,000 vacancies in the computer area. But retailing?? I bet wages remain low in that area. Someone who has opened an on-line retail in some cases they may be doing all right.

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  3. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    You’ve got it all wrong DPF.

    He’s saying that the forces of Eurasia, Eastasia, the Business Roundtable and the National Party are determined, and even a trade union movement under a Labour government could not defeat them, and double plus effort is required in the coming struggle comrades!

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  4. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    tvb, I prefer the term “people” to “drones”.

    Tinkering on computers seldom -produces- anything of real value and eventually the market will be flooded with computer tinkerers who will then be paid what they are worth, based on what they produce.

    Just imagine your utopia where we all tinker on computers. Who will feed you, house you, do actual real things ? The Matrix was a movie and not a very good one either.

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  5. MPH (18 comments) says:

    Breaking. DPF uncovers that some Labour Party people think that the previous Labour Government should have done more to lift the wages of workers and reduce inequality. Someone give him a Pulitizer.

    New leads to follow: some National members think the current Government is too centrist, and John Key doesn’t fully support Muldoon’s legacy.

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  6. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Is he saying that the last Labour Government (which he was President of the party for) failed to lift wages for low income workers?

    He’d be dishonest if he said anything else. At least he’s admitting the failure and saying the next Labour government will attempt to address it. National neither recognises its failure nor any need to address it.

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  7. burt (8,272 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt

    At least he’s admitting the failure and saying the next Labour government will attempt to address it.

    The story of the Labour party … Last time we were in office it all ended badly in recession – but it will be different this time … But it never is is it !

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  8. burt (8,272 comments) says:

    Psycho

    National neither recognises its failure nor any need to address it.

    National certainly recognise the failure of Labour party policies. The last 2 times they have been elected secret disasters have been revealed to them on taking office and harsh budgets have been required.

    Just like we see now In Aussie with the Abbott government following up on a dishonest spend and bust Labor party.

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  9. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    He is saying that since the ECA, unions no longer represent workers in wage negotiations. Thus the government is limited to moving the MW. And today many low wage workers who once received wages 50% above the MW are waiting for the MW to rise to get a pay increase.

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  10. tom hunter (4,857 comments) says:

    Andrew Little and like-minded people will not be reading the previous thread or the article embedded with it on inept government, or if they do they won’t believe it or won’t think it applies to them.

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  11. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Who cares what Little thinks, he is greasing to his New Plymouth electorate, in the hope they won’t arse him out again. They will, there is no place in the electorate for a charlatan’s lackey.

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  12. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (890 comments) says:

    I think this is the start of Chicken Little’s plan of staking claim for the leadership of the loser party.

    “I have a dream rich pricks, I have a dream. I dream about the day in NZ, under Labour and Green leadership, a parliamentary cleaner is paid the same as the Telecom CEO. I have a dream, oh boy I have a dream” – Great Chief of Staff

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  13. unaha-closp (1,165 comments) says:

    Or is he saying that failure to continue with the reforms progressed in the decade prior to 1994 has resulted in wage stagnation?

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  14. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    He’d be dishonest if he said anything else. At least he’s admitting the failure…

    Except he isn’t admitting failure. You are reading that into his statement.

    Perhaps you can dig up a quote where he says “WE failed”. But I doubt you will.

    He is playing the same old tired trick of blaming the current Government for the current state of the economy, and ignoring any influence Labour had on it in the past. And not for the first time.

    His speech was simply another version of Labour’s “things are shit, change the government!” meme.

    If he was asked directly “Did your lot fail when you were in power?” he 100% certainly would not answer “Yes we did”.

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  15. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    Look on the bright side – Cunliffe is a plonker and replaced by Robertson – another plonker and Little plonker lined up to follow or squabble of who goes first – a dream scenario for National.

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  16. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    There is a reason why DPF had to ask these questions:

    “Is he saying that the last Labour Government (which he was President of the party for) failed to lift wages for low income workers?”

    “Or is he saying that the EPMU, which he was the head of, failed to lift wages for their members?”

    It is because Little DIDN’T say that Labour shared some of the blame, or that the EPMU had failed.

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  17. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    Except he isn’t admitting failure. You are reading that into his statement.

    I’m not “reading it into his statement” – Labour was the government for 9 of those 20 years, so there isn’t any interpretation of his statement that doesn’t involve the fifth Labour government failing to raise wages. I know that right-wingers imagine union members to be truculent imbeciles, but they aren’t – they know as well as you, me, Little and DPF what that statement means, and they know it first and foremost because most of them will have been in the workforce during the fifth Labour government and had first-hand experience of it.

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  18. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    Labour was the government for 9 of those 20 years, so there isn’t any interpretation of his statement that doesn’t involve the fifth Labour government failing to raise wages.

    That’s not the same as him admitting failure on the part of the last Labour government. If you are actually going to admit failure, you might as well be explicit about it and get credit for honesty. When you don’t make it explicit then the more reasonable interpretation is that you aren’t assuming blame.

    At best he is implying an admission of failure, and if he was implying failure, then it is more than fair to put the question more directly, as DPF has done.

    The answer to the question “Is he saying that the last Labour Government (which he was President of the party for) failed to lift wages for low income workers?” is more reasonably assumed to be No than Yes.

    You are certainly inferring an admission of failure but do you really think that if he was asked directly “Did your lot fail when you were in power?” that he would answer yes? How about you provide that quote where he said ‘we failed’?

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  19. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    scs – “I dream about the day in NZ, under Labour and Green leadership, a parliamentary cleaner is paid the same as the Telecom CEO. I have a dream, oh boy I have a dream” – Great Chief of Staff”

    And that common pay will be 5 rubles an hour. Except for members of the party (of course).

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  20. David Garrett (7,290 comments) says:

    This piece of bollocks from Little is actually insulting to Labour Party members who are “workers”…does he think they re too thick to remember that Labour was in government for almost half of the last 20 years?

    Someone upthread said that we have become very much unequal in recent times…This is also bollocks. In 1932, in the depths of the depression, there were food riots in Queen Street. That same year photos show the members stand at Ellerslie racecourse full of well dressed men and women…and cars with chauffeurs parked beside. In the thirties well off people usually had a least one servant…does anyone here known anyone who has a servant??

    None of the “rich pricks” I mix with in the ACT Party has one…

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  21. Positan (390 comments) says:

    Patently just another parliamentary, foot-shooting fuck-wit doing his best to represent all that is best among the lunatic Left.

    Why do we pay them? If we didn’t they certainly wouldn’t hang around.

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  22. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    You are certainly inferring an admission of failure but do you really think that if he was asked directly “Did your lot fail when you were in power?” that he would answer yes?

    If a particular fact necessarily follows from a statement, you’re not ‘inferring’ it. And yes, I expect he would answer no if asked whether the last Labour government ‘failed,’ because it patently didn’t ‘fail.’ I expect if you asked him whether 5th Labour made a satisfactory effort to raise wages, he’d admit that it didn’t – because it patently didn’t and he’s said as much in that statement.

    That out of the way, let’s get on to the other 11 of those 20 years. Do National MPs acknowledge their failure, whether implicitly or otherwise?

    In 1932, in the depths of the depression, there were food riots in Queen Street. That same year photos show the members stand at Ellerslie racecourse full of well dressed men and women…and cars with chauffeurs parked beside. In the thirties well off people usually had a least one servant…does anyone here known anyone who has a servant??

    Gosh, David – the way Little’s talking, one would almost think that between 1932 and today there’d been a government that addressed that appalling level of inequality and implemented policies to create a much fairer society, policies that have in recent times been undermined to the point that we’re on the road back to 1932 levels of inequality. Hah! Imagine!

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  23. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    And yes, I expect he would answer no if asked whether the last Labour government ‘failed,’ because it patently didn’t ‘fail.’

    Milt, you were the one who said “At least he’s admitting the failure…”, not me.

    I was responding to what you said. I said you were wrong and that he wasnt admitting failure.

    Do National MPs acknowledge their failure, whether implicitly or otherwise?

    We haven’t even gotten on to whether there IS any failure. So how abouts you address that before asking National whether they still beat their wife?

    Why were the wages 20 years ago at the perfectly right level? Not too high, not too low. What is it about 1994 that makes it the perfect point of reference?

    I am not going to claim that wages were too high, as I dont want to bother making a positive statement that then has to be supported. But you lot are saying they were the perfect level, and that is something you DO have to back up.

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  24. Left Right and Centre (2,979 comments) says:

    greentick, greentick, greentick . . . disrespecting The Matrix **gasp** !! REDTICK !!!!!!!!

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  25. Left Right and Centre (2,979 comments) says:

    None of the “rich pricks” I mix with in the ACT Party has one…

    These days they’re called ‘nannies’. The job adverts may contain something vaguely related to childcare duties. They really want someone to wipe the arse of all the family members.

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  26. Psycho Milt (2,412 comments) says:

    I said you were wrong and that he wasnt admitting failure.

    Actually, you said “do you really think that if he was asked directly “Did your lot fail when you were in power?” that he would answer yes?”, which asks whether his party’s government was, in general terms, a failure. It wasn’t. However, it did fail to raise wages, which is right there in his statement. No doubt, if you asked him to say so bluntly, he’d weasel out of doing it, because people like DPF are waiting to make propaganda out of such admissions – but that’s the game he’s in. What he said is as close as a politician dares get to an open admission that his government didn’t do everything brilliantly and successfully.

    We haven’t even gotten on to whether there IS any failure. So how abouts you address that before asking National whether they still beat their wife?

    There’s a question of whether real wages for the bottom 50% are the same or lower now than they were 20 years ago? I presume if Little was straightforwardly wrong about that, DPF would have made that the subject of his post.

    Why were the wages 20 years ago at the perfectly right level?

    Has anyone said wages 20 years ago were at the perfectly right level? Hell, if we were going to do that we’d surely pick 30+ years ago, because real wages are lower now than they were then. His point is that when Bill English and others go on about how wage increases need to be a product of GDP growth or productivity increases, they’re lying weasels because wage-earners know damn well that for thirty years GDP and productivity have increased significantly and they’ve seen none of it.

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  27. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    There’s a question of whether real wages for the bottom 50% are the same or lower now than they were 20 years ago?

    No, the question is whether that represents a failure. Or at the very least you havent shown that it IS a failure. You still haven’t.

    How has the economy changed since then? How has the productivity of the lowest 50% changed? What jobs are represented in the lowest 50%? Are there demographic changes that explain it? Did technology play a role? Immigration? Does the picture change if you consider wages AND benefits? Would wages be higher if the benefits didnt exist?

    You havent taken a single step towards addressing any those important considerations, let alone establishing that people 20 years ago were paid fairly, unfairly, or over-generously. All you have done is say “Look! This number didnt change and that’s BAD!”

    And yes you ARE assuming 20 years ago wages were at the appropriate level, because you are making such a big deal about the CHANGE since then!

    When given a chance you DO use 30 years ago. Why? Because wages at that point were fair and not distorted? No. Its because “LOOK AT THIS FUCKING NUMBER! ITS BAD!”

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