The right to strike outside collective negotiations

The Port of Tauranga has been threatening to call the police if its staff picket to prevent Chinese-made trains coming into New Zealand through Tauranga.

[Port company chief executive] Mr Cairns said picketing to prevent the wagons being unloaded could be illegal under the Employment Relations Act because it did not appear to be an action being taken to support contract negotiations.

The union arguing that the picket is legal, and I suspect, from what little I know of employment law, that they might be right.

But, if they are not, we face a real life example of one of the troubling areas of the Employment Relations Act – the inability of union members to take industrial action over any issue that is not part of their employment agreement negotiations. Continue reading

Alastair Thompson: supply and demand

I do not know if Alastair Thompson is sexist and/or an idiot. The things he said yesterday however definitely were both sexist and idiotic. What I am not so convinced about though are the calls for his resignation. Most calls for him to resign draw from on the argument that he does not represent the views of women. I reckon that is not his job though. As the chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association his job is to represent the views of those employers who choose to belong to his association. Continue reading

$15 minimum wage


It’s nice to see that Labour, now in opposition, is finally around to supporting a $15 an hour minimum wage. The problem (for the Greens as well as Labour) is that $15 an hour, when it was initially proposed, was based on 2/3rds of the average wage.  Years later, and 2/3rds of the average wage is now $17.31.  We need to start talk about 2/3rds of the average wage instead of $15 an hour, otherwise $15 will a Pyrrhic victory.

I’ll have a Big McPaula with lies please

The truth is out!

Sue Bradford questioned Minister of Social Development and Employment Paula Bennett in Parliament today.

Last week Paula Bennett revealed a supposed job creation agreement with McDonalds during a select committee meeting at Parliament. The agreement will (according to Bennett):

…provide up to 7000 unemployed for the fast-food chain’s restaurant expansion plans over the next five years…

Her Deputy Chief Executive said:

Under the deal with McDonald’s, Work and Income would help with the recruitment and training of 7000 staff in service roles and “positions which provide a career path”, Work and Income deputy chief executive Patricia Reade said.

“We’re very pleased that we will be able to offer unemployed people over the next five years opportunities in the food and hospitality trade,” she said.

McDonald’s intends to open 30 new restaurants over the next five years.

But today, under questioning from Sue Bradford, Paula Bennett has been caught out telling fibs. As Paula Bennett told Sue Bradford in Parliament:

It is a job subsidy for long-term beneficiaries, and it has been around for years. The job subsidy that goes with the individual is not new. The partnership and the way that we access those employees are different, but the job funding is not different or exceptional.

So there is nothing new about the arrangement with McDonalds. There is no special agreement – it is just what they have inherited from governements past. As Paula now admits, it’s been around for years.

As I suspected, National has no idea about how to create jobs and stimulate the economy in a recession. They won’t buy into the Green New Deal proposals, apart from the home insulation one that Labour had already been dragged screaming and kicking to agree to before the election.

This really is a clueless government as far as dealing with the recession goes. They sit back, hope all will come right in a year or two (in time for the next election) and watch untold thousands of New Zealanders being thrown on the unemployment scrapheap.

And their solution is to trot out an job placement and subsidy initiative that has existed for the last couple of decades in the hope that New Zealanders will see this as something new and McDonalds uptake of it as the solution to our financial and employment crisis.

Anyway, Paula, would you like fries with your financial and employment crisis? Because the economy and the unemployment statistics won’t come right until you actually do something, rather than rely on the somewhat parsimonious initiatives of those who have done something before you.