The Precarious Labour Survey Monkey


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This morning I checked my emails and noticed I had received one from Grant Robinson.
That’s nice. Since the election I have had a lot of mail from Labour. They have gone Survey Monkey Mad. Understandable. Part of the autopsy process and strategic analysis for the future.

This email however is slightly worrying. It’s Grant letting me know that Labour is worried about the changing nature of work. Really? Have they only just noticed? I’m concerned that if Labour are only just working this out they might need to change their name. Not Labour maybe. Let’s face it the nature of work has been changing since 1991 and the introduction of the Employment Contract Act . It’s easy to see now the clue was in the name the whole time. Contract.

The email goes on to tell me that due to this changing nature they are starting a two year commission and that they would like to hear from people, including me, about how I feel I about work so they can I assume, start tailoring policy. There’s a survey attached.
I hope I can find time but the truth is I’m really busy. Next week I’m starting work. That’s great but it does add complications. At thirty hours a week on the living wage I’m not actually going to be able to make ends meet. So to supplement my income I’m advertising for a flatmate. I’m answering questions through Facebook. So far the only response I have had has been from a friends daughter who is nineteen and unemployed. She’s looking though.

I have to get the room ready for inspection. But the room is full of my nieces stuff. I let her stay last year for minimal rent because she was studying, but she hasn’t moved yet because her boyfriend and her can’t find a place they can share that is close to Auckland Uni, that they can afford. Also she’s down the line still working her summer job at the moment.

When I finished answering the messages I had to start ringing around friends because my new job requires I go out of town in the second week for four nights and I need to find a dog sitter. Dog care is $50 a night for two small dogs so that would be $200 and an additional $50 if I pick them up late. $250 is most of my take home but it’s worth it because this work, which is for 12 weeks might lead to more work.

After that I got caught on the phone talking one of my Uni mates who finished her degree, like me , last year. We are both hoping to do Masters this year, studying part time and working. We got good grades and worked hard. My friend can’t look after my dogs. She has a child and she works
Fourteen hours a week coaching gymnastics. Yesterday she went for an interview and got a job tutoring. That is another five hours a week work or ten when there is marking. It’s also only for twelve weeks of semester. So she still has to keep the other job, the new job and possibly find some more work somewhere else. We had a long chat about her WINZ support and her Working for Families, tax credits and of course secondary tax.

This arvo at four pm I jump in my car to get to Oneunga at five,( when I’m out of town I will save some money on gas which can go toward the dogs) . Auckland Action Against Poverty is hosting Guy Standing and we hope to raise some money. I’m working on the door because I’m good at asking for money.

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Guy Standing is talking about his second book. The first book was all about the precariat. People that don’t have stable work, that are desperately trying to keep everything together with a variety of jobs, always worried about how they are going to pay rent or rates, dog day care or childcare. People like me and my friend. People like the people that use the services of AAAP. People that have an insecure and insufficient income. We are not all blue collar, we are not all traditionally what Labour might term working class but we are all in the same rapidly sinking boat. Life jackets are in the form of permanent contracts and in short supply.

Tonight’s talk is about his second book and he is talking about a Universal Basic Income. An income paid to every person, without any form of means testing or a criteria. He is an articulate, compelling and inspiring speaker. He knows his topic. He systematically addresses all of the objections. He opens his talk by saying that there is no going back. Work will only become more precarious. Then he starts painting a picture of a possible future. His argument and vision are attractive.

While he talks I check my phone. I’m not sure I have time to indulge in the vision. No flatmates and no offers to dog sit. While he is talking I am still considering how succinctly he defined my position. The chronic existential insecurity and lack of occupational identity that results from having no control over your ability to work and earn. I check my emails and see I have received one from Andrew Little. The title in the subject line is ‘It’s not on.’ I don’t open it.

Now I’m home and it’s late and this blog is due and I guess Grant Robinson is still trying to find out about Labour issues from people like me for the Labour Party. I’m tired. I’m worried. I’m going to go to bed. I know I’m luckier than a lot of people. I have a home and a bed. I also have a voice.

Here is the link for the survey. Perhaps some of you guys have time to participate.

Maybe someone could send Grant this blog. Maybe he knows someone looking for a room to rent, or a cheap dog sitter, or a job that lasts more than twelve weeks and is for more than thirty hours. Maybe he and the commission have time to consider Guy Standings brave vision. I , like many others, just want to know that there is someone thinking about ways of stopping it getting worse.


  1. Yes, I have also got the survey. I actually filled it in, because although I did not vote for Labour in the party vote last time, due to their dysfunctional ways and policies, I now realise that if Labour don’t stay strong it is even worse for the country as then National are just coming in with a majority.

    So my view is that I am going to try to fill out the surveys so they can understand what people think.

    I actually give them an A for effort, (on changing) cos they at least are making an effort. But a Cminus on the survey itself.

    I also think unless Labour understand what people think, they are relying on MSM and pop psychology marketing (vote positive!) which is so out of touch with people’s often desperate situations (like yourself) that they were boycotted last election.

    The other thing, is that people who are well off are turning against National anyway. National are a corrupt, stupid joke, who have hijacked the country. There corrupt ways mean even big business who don’t lobby politicians are disgusted with National and would like to turn to Labour. People are actively looking for an alternative to National. If they don’t do something stupid like last time, then they should get through. i.e. avoid, property, pensions, maori issues (I know sounds terrible to the ‘purists’ out there, but there are other parties that look to tackle those issues who they can collaborate with. The trick is to not ask for trouble and get themselves under attack from National on policy).

    One thing though, Labour’s work survey was some sort of joke as a survey. They ask what your first job was, but not what you currently do? They should check educational qualifications and current job and income, that way they can build a picture of who is their supporters. Unless my survey didn’t work properly?

    In my view a lot of well qualified professionals want to vote Labour, not just the ‘blue’ collar worker they seem to think votes for them. By getting the survey wrong, they are not finding this out very accurately.

    Labour needs to actually employ a social psychologist to work out the issues and create the surveys, not rely on supporters and marketers. It will be the best money they spend if they get the right person. Not a ‘poser’ someone properly qualified and open minded on the result. Do they think they can win against Cosby Textor with their amateur efforts?

    The survey looked to me, like they want to prove a point, (casual labour) not actually find out what is the current situation of their supporters who fill out the survey.

    They could also ask what policies Labour could do to improve work etc etc.

    The survey was a waste but again for the reasons above I think that people have to ‘support’ Labour. Even if you don’t support labour:)

    My view is that Labour, Green, Internet/Mana and maybe even NZ First should work together to find out what they all agree on and use that as an umbrella, secondary message to the main message of their ‘brand’.

    National are using ‘divide and conquer’ to the left. The left and centre need to pick up and start collaborating. I don’t believe the election was fair, at all.

    For example the message could be

    Fair, equal, Peaceful, Nuclear Free NZ
    with free health, education and state houses.
    National is not WORKING for NZ

    Then the party can put on their first message like

    Labour – Jobs, business
    Greens – Environment, social justice, youth
    NZ First – Corruption, retirement, immigration
    Mana – social good, maori
    Internet – Digital economy, youth

    If people don’t give labour an accurate measure of what is going on, they will fuck up next election, and soon you will be under a bridge begging in Auckland even though you have a casual job for 30 hrs a week which is where this country is going. All the investigate journos will be under house arrest like Dot Com and we will have a world war on our hands with their war mongering ways.

    The future is even less bright than your current situation under another term of National!

    • A vote for Labour is a vote for the status quo (albeit with less corruption).

      Also, now party assigned to finance, the most in need of reform?

    • Interesting postings. Congratulations, Save NZ on the effort you put in on your response posting. Most of us genuinely believe that a Government of the Left is the only way to extricate us from the mess we are getting ourselves into. Some of us are very prescriptive about the exact kind of Left-leaning government we need, others, like me, rather less so. For me the search for socially responsible solutions is the only way to start to find any. I would be happy to start there. You are wrong, though, Save NZ, to suggest that Labour would need to stay away from all contentious issues. A large measure of the reason for their results at the last election was in your own reason for not voting for them. What is needed is that they say what they mean and mean what they say – which is not always the same, as we all know.

    • All well and good, but I think money is so tight for Labour they can’t afford a social psychologist. I guess I could give them more money, but it still wouldn’t be enough. Most of us who do our best to support Labour aren’t made of the stuff.

      Sorry about the author of this posts circumstance. Little is the first politician I have heard of who has mentioned a UBI and very early in the piece of his leadership. Rather than criticise Labour, why don’t you try and get in behind them. National are never going to help with the issues the author of this post complains of (understandably).

    • I agree that labour should hire the social psychologist but also someone to do their social media better. That would be a super cool job for me!

      Grant Robertson tweeted me saying that precarious work is centre to the study & he’s meeting Guy Standing next week. Why didn’t he respond to the blog?

      • Most MPs are working 80hr+ weeks, so dashing off a Tweet is quite good going, to be honest. At least he does his own.

        • You are correct. I have met a lot of MPs who work long hours & who are committed to working hard. They should. They know what they are taking on, they compete for the job & they are well remunerated.

          I expect MPs to respond to all correspondence. Whether they delegate it to support staff or do it themselves is for them to decide. There are risks to delegating. I do not think they should be congratulated for sending a tweet. If they don’t wish to engage with the public they shouldn’t be on social media at all.

  2. I guess they want real people’s input to problems facing NZ and I can’t fault that. And maybe they don’t have the finances to run a David Farrar type “Curia” research unit as do the National Party, albeit that is not to solve problems, its to sidestep them with carefully crafted propaganda.

    But like anything else in NZ, people whinge and whine but when asked if they can give up some time to solve the issues they are always far too busy!

    • I think I’ve answered far more than the survey asked. I’m not whinging and whining. Im illustrating a point.

  3. Being semi-retired, I suspect my situation is less relevant. I started the survey, but killed it the moment they asked for my name. I may not be alone in doing so.

  4. It takes about 2 minutes. You’re not the only person with a difficult life.

    It’s almost always people who don’t vote for them and don’t intend to ever, that do find time in their busy, precarious lives to bag them, in lengthy blog posts that take much longer to write than it takes to answer a short survey, intended to get information from people about the issues that people have raised.

    Poor Labour, they are damned if they don’t and damned if they do – and yet we all need them to do well if we want a change of government.

    • Trendy Lefty are you talking to me? I answered far more than the survey asked & wrote a blog about the survey. As to whom I vote for I have been a staunch supporter of Labour in the past.

  5. I answered the survey from Robertson. I consider him to be a Wellington focused out of touch pompous ass who actively undermined Cunliffe.As someone said during the election “if only his talent matched his ambition and ego!”The survey was shallow and poorly structured and I fail to see what Labour expect to learn from such woefully inadequate questions. I am self employed I have had a very checkered working life even tho I am tertiary educated. None of the questions addressed my life . I am sure it was designed by someone who has never known financial insecurity or worked outside of NZ.

    • I agree, whoever organised the survey, should not be allowed to again. It was stupid. I also did not give my surname. I did it for the reasons outlined my first emails.

    • I answered the survey and like you am self employed and also a Temp agency contract worker.

      I can see why they asked a few of the questions asked after all part of the senario of the survey was how jobs have changed over the last 40 years.

      For starters my first job was delivering telegrams on a bicycle now how long ago is it since telegrams went out of existance.

      As grant said how many jobs existing now will be in existance in 5 or 10 or even 20 years time.

      That is what the survey is about.

      • Telegrams? Jesus, Geoff, did you make some sort of pact with Satan in exchange for eternal life, or are you just a brain in a jar operating the keyboard through telekinesis?

      • Also from my answers I gave i had a response from Iian Galloway regarding the zero hours contract I said i work under so there is more to that particular survey than meets the eye first up.

  6. Is that all what the Labour Party can come up with?

    What a total disgrace. I did the survey, and it is quite clearly just an effort to gather names and email addresses, and some very basic info, to build a database of “interested” persons that Labour may try to target for other communications.

    The survey itself is a JOKE, ridiculous, to be honest.

    I am sorry, I had expected more, and again I am disappointed. After the devastating election result Labour should have learned a bit more, and done more to gather information for their new project, trying to find out what people think about “work”.

    Well, Andrew Little and his “team” have not quite 3 years to get their crap together, I will despite of all disillusionment follow this story, and see what will come out of it later on.

    • I just bin those e-mails from Labour now.

      Despite the occasionally encouraging performance of Andrew Little, after Labour’s jaw-dropping festival of bullshit at the last election, I’m led to believe they’d rather engage in pissing contests with other minor parties than present a united front in any sort of genuine attempt to topple High Chancellor Key from his ivory tower. (Having that man as Prime Minister is like having an intestinal parasite you can’t for the life of you get rid of.)

      There was a time I believed in you, Labour. That time has, sadly, passed. And now I’m going to live in the woods with nought but my animal friends for company.

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