Andrew Little: Zero Hour Slayer?


Yesterday The Labour Party posted this to their facebook:



Seriously? Labour thinks because Andrew Little called for an end to Zero Hour contracts, magically, hours later they are axed? Not even close. I understand Andrew’s claim only refers to ending Zero Hours in Parliament but, at the very least, this statement by the Labour Party is pretty misleading. Especially because it makes no reference to Unite Union‘s tireless efforts to roll back these brutal and unfair contracts or the brave service workers who spoke out against Zero Hours. Through their collective efforts they forced Carls Jr, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds into pledging they would end their use of Zero Hours.

Andrew Little may have only taken a mere few hours to end the use of Zero Hour contracts in parliament (9 workers have been subject to them in parliament) but his quick and fast victory was made so easy thanks to the grunt work of union delegates, activists and fast food workers on Zero Hour contracts who spoke out at great personal risk. The workers were often subject to their shifts being cut and bullying tactics by management for their bravery as shown in an email from a McDonald’s worker to Unite Union saying, “I am definitely against zero hour contracts at McDonald’s. I’ve been working there and I have literally struggled with my house expenses and the level of bullying was extreme.” A workers rights activist, said in response “Nothing like a victory [in parliament] to erase those that paid the price.”

It is worth remembering the words of historian Howard Zinn, who throughout his life called on us to focus our attention on, “the countless small actions of the unknown people, that are the foundation for those great moments that ultimately enter the historical record without the countless small actions of unknown people that created them.”

It took Andrew Little such a short space of time to win this victory against Zero Hour contracts because of the hundreds of hours that activists and union delegates had already put in to ending these contracts. Considering Andrew was a Trade Union official himself, it is disappointing he did not give credit where credit was due.

Labour needs to be reminded that landmark change comes from the bottom of the pyramid not the top. Colossal, long lasting change that benefits the political underclass – not the rich and powerful – will always come from the unknown people who speak truth to power, no matter the cost. They need to recognise and honour this. Not, ignore it and claim victories over Zero Hour contracts in Parliament without first pointing out what made this victory, possible.

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  1. I think the Union movement should start supporting the Greens rather than Labour. The Green Party is stronger on worker rights and far less likely to compromise on them. Some union members are afraid Green policies, especially the environment will lose them their jobs, but in fact Green policies are far more likely to protect worker’s jobs.

    • NO, I am sorry to say this, while the Greens seem to be more progressive and social in some respects, they are actually moving towards where Labour is now! They want to “broaden” their appeal to voters, and get more votes from the so-called “centre”. But that “centre” is the same “centre” the Nats under Key, and Labour are aiming at, while hundreds of thousands of non-voters continue to be ignored.

      We need a NEW MOVEMENT, Mana cannot be this, as it has lost its “mana” due to the mess that was created during last election, where the media discredited them and hunted down some members, to show them as nothing like a bunch of old revolutionaries or mad cappers, ready to take money from a rich German migrant with questionable business practices.

      Sadly the reputation of Mana has been destroyed, and although Hone deserves a lot of respect and credit for what he has done, he made a mistake to sign up with Dotcom, although of course one is always smarter in hindsight.

      That was sadly not a good way to go, and it back-fired.

      Some in public also see Mana as just another Maori party, although it is not.

      In any case, the damage is done, not for the fault of many that believed in Mana, many of their members and followers, but it simply is so.

      That means a totally new party and movement is needed, with no strings attached, that also embraces all with progressive views, ideas and commitment.

      Those that believe Labour can be reformed are daydreaming, as it is the MPs of Labour, that sit on the leather chairs in Parliament, that present the “face” of Labour, no matter what the membership behind it looks like.

      Most of these MPs do not impress, come with baggage, and have not got the will to move away from the neoliberal direction, or anywhere close to it.

      With all that, there is little hope in Labour, and it does not even matter anymore, who the leader is, they will never get much over 30 percent now, as even the vast majority of voters feel skeptical at best when they hear the word Labour.

      The Greens are just a more conscious, a bit socially minded middle class party, they are not appealing to voters in South Auckland, Porirua and also not in most of the regions. They get votes in mostly better off urban suburbs and centres, nowhere else.

  2. Yeah, nice attempt at stealing Unite’s thunder, Little. Let’s not forget Campbell Live’s relentless coverage on zero hour contracts. I’m sure that put a few noses out of joint around the boardroom table.

    I have zero inclination to vote for Labour at the next election. Given their recent history, they couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.

    • I know Labour has been speaking out about Zero Hour contracts since December, for example they introducted a “Member’s Bill doing just that and an on-line petition which has raised around 30 000 signatures.” Which is great, and it was a Labour MP “who has inquired of employment arrangements around the parliamentary precinct.” Which is all fantastic, but I think often politicians can take alot more credit for landmark wins when it comes to workers rights ect. when ultimately it was activists who are not paid for the work they do, who really do the grunt work when it comes to social change. That was the point I tried to get across in what I wrote.

  3. Well written, Chloe!

    Indeed, Labour was in government for many years, when zero hours already existed in some forms before 2008. This kind of employment where no set minimum of hours are promised to workers was not “born” just a year or two ago. It has only more recently come to our attention, and also the MSM’s attention, because it has spread all over various industries.

    For instance I remember doing some on-call temp work in the 1990s, which was already a form of “zero hour contract”, and that was possible then, when the Nats were in power, because of the Employment Contract Act and so.

    That again was the result of “reforms” the Labour government under David Lange brought in, with the traitors Douglas and Prebble, also the ready followers of Goff et al!

    Labour had plenty of time from 2000 to 2008 to bring in better labour laws, but all they did was a few very moderate changes to the employment law of the time. They did try the “third way” approach, and wanted to avoid upsetting the bosses. Like other “social democratic” parties that lost their ways, they were staying close to where National had been.

    For Mr Little to clap to his own supposed “achievements” re ending zero hour contracts in Parliament, this is a bit rich.

    Labour are still stuck in the void of the political landscape, delivering no clear policies, no clear direction, and still not having worked much on future policy to present us. They have not changed much, well they have got worse in some persons’ eyes, as they now do not even talk about poverty and the suffering of persons on benefits anymore.

    It is all about economic data, some selected pet topics, and last they tried to jump on the “pony tail” bandwagon, which was nothing they were involved in uncovering.

    As the first election results in the UK appear to show, Labour there will have failed yet again, possibly got less votes than last election, under Milliband, who was another one, trying to “appeal” to the “middle ground”, and being nothing but a mellow sponge of nothingness sucked into it.

    No wonder the Disabled Groups in the UK frowned on Labour before the election, as they missed from Labour some clear policy and promises re welfare reforms, which they were reluctant to offer.

    While Andrew Little may “celebrate” Labour’s supposed “achievement” that has nothing much to do with any of their MPs or members, we still have “zero hour contracts” all over the show.

    I despair with Labour, I have given up, we need a new political force, a new, firmly progressive party, that does not dilly dally around!

  4. In fairness, Little has some union involvement – the claim has much better validity that John Key’s assumption of blokeyness or Bill English’s epic fantasies of economic adequacy.

    • yeah I should of had a bit more balance in this piece reading over it now and I should had said something like: “Andrew Little and Labour should be congratulated for raising the issue of workers in Parliament on zero hours contracts. We must remember though, without the actions of Unite Union and the reporting of Campbell Live the political climate for Labour’s win would not have existed”, but next time I certainly will.

  5. If you believe that a new, more radical left of centre party will sweep into power you are dreaming. Also you might like to start with some consideration of the policies such a party would promote and ask yourself how popular these policies would be to an I’m-all-right-Jack electorate.

    The only reason Helen Clark’s Labour was elected and stayed in power was because she was trusted not to rock the boat after the traumas of Douglas and Ruth Richardson.

    Today most people can’t imagine what a reforming party might be like, while many believe they have too much to lose. The task of persuading people that change is not to be feared is not a task for a re-invented Mana. Such a party’s only value is to offer a plaything for the furious few while more realistic people get on with the task of formulating policy that will both appeal to enough people and help the creation of a fairer, more inclusive, and more prosperous country. (All the while suffering endless sniping from your new party).

    The leader gets the boot after a failure of a party. It is only fair that he get the credit for a success.

    I doubt, given his background, that Andrew Little is unaware of the value of the union movement, however as the Left rebuilds from a low base, the leader needs a few credibility-wins. I for one would be happy for him to take this one, if he wants to. Although I have seen few signs of this.

    • You write:
      “If you believe that a new, more radical left of centre party will sweep into power you are dreaming. Also you might like to start with some consideration of the policies such a party would promote and ask yourself how popular these policies would be to an I’m-all-right-Jack electorate.”

      Who is talking about a “radical left of centre party”?

      Last election Mana did actually include many policies in its election program, that are rather mainstream in much of Europe. They failed largely because of media bias, and that falling on fertile ground after years of conditioning of the public’s mind and perceptions, which are lubricated to think “competitive” and “consumerist”, supposedly “pragmatic” in the economic sense (along the motto “greed is good”). Anything other than “stable” National led government was labeled as unreliable, bad, as untrustworthy, and personal attacks like with “dirty politics” has shown how that was done.

      The problem is New Zealand has moved far to the right, without people noticing it, except the politically attuned people. The reason is a massive change in media conduct, where we have even so-called “publicly owned” media behave like commercial advertising and ratings driven mercenaries, broadcasting endless commercials, to earn “revenue”, because broadcasting is supposed to be “free”.

      Consumers pay for this media, as the advertising costs are calculated and included in the price of goods and services we all buy. The revenue the private and even state owned media earn comes from advertisers getting paid by commercial enterprises that buy the advertising for their products and services.

      Virtually ALL media is now staffed and fronted by “salesmen” and “saleswomen”, piping up with at times populist cheap talk, to get attention. They encourage “feedback” and “opinion” by Twitter, Facebook and text messages, which they use as proof for their “popularity” and that they can “sell” themselves and their programs. They do on radio and TV pick emotive topics to get people’s adrenalin running, so they stay tuned, but they do not inform and report on matters of real substance, that are important for deciding on future directions for the country.

      So claiming that the “I’,m all right Jack” mentality is what we should give consideration to is in my view a “sell out” approach. That part of the electorate are the more conservative minded ones, that still bother voting, as they vote according to the motivation to protect their property and benefits, to keep them secure above the rest, who has largely become so disillusioned, they do not even follow politics anymore, as their interests have not been listened to for endless years.

      That is where politics is heading, more populism, popularity and attention seeking, and NO substance and reliable direction. Besides of that it is all geared to keep the status quo, to protect the home owning middle class and the investor upper class, so they feel their lives improve even more, never mind the bottom.

      For instance for a progressive new party, to include a Universal Basic Income, as part of a radical tax reform program, also lightening burdens on students by reducing student fees and debt, by making school education truly free again, by bringing in employment law, where people need not fear so much losing jobs, because social security will ensure they do not have to sell their home, car or else, to feed themselves, that would have appeal to a good size of the population.

      And that is all that is needed, a third force, which may include sound progressive environmental policies, and any of the two major parties would totally depend on making a deal with such a party.

      It would force the leading government party to make concessions, to bring back a more equal society, of more fairness and security, which is what most people appreciate.

      So I choose to disagree with your view here.

  6. Labour has given credit to Unite’s campaign on zero hours many times, in the media, in its emails, in its social media posts. Have you actually done any research for this article?

    In this case, the workers at Parliament, Andrew Little did stop zero hour contracts, which is why Labour has made its post specifically about Parliament workers. I’m not sure exactly what your point is.

    Seems to me to be more of the usual reflexive anti-Labour rhetoric that’s become increasingly common on this site.

    • @ Puzzled . ” usual reflexive anti-Labour rhetoric ” That’s because neoliberalism has stained Labour terminally . Please refer to Chris Trotters Post here .

      The Neo Liberals neutured Labour in 1985. douglas and his scum bag cronies planned it , executed it and fucked us for a few billion dollars. No wonder no one trusts Labour . I don’t personally, that’s why I voted Green/Green .

      The day a Labour Leader smacks jonky in his hooked nose on camera ? I’ll know Labour is a fresh beastie . Until then, they’re just like the rest . Hiding lies , being deceitful , spending yours and mine’s money, wasting our time and laughing at us behind our backs .

      Fuck the fancy photo ops, just do your job Andrew . Bring the Farmer over to the Unions to fight off the scum foreign owned banks and for fucks sake ! Make the wearing of fluro vests illegal . Lets reintroduce common sense back into NZ / Aotearoa so we can see the trees that make up the forest .

      • Andrew Little has said a few times in the media, like his interview on Radio Live in April, that Unite Union has done a great job, and I should have pointed this out. I will next time. But many Union Deleagtes and workers rights activists felt simular to me when this emem popped up on the Labour website. I am not anti-labour I have written on Labour before and praised some of their policies. But I dont not align myself with anyone political party. And yes as a writer because of deadlines I can miss stuff, and I am always willing to own mistakes and write corrections. But I will continue to try my best and aim for as much balance as I can while declaring my biases…

  7. Here we go again… Paving the way for another national party victory in 2017….. How much assumption needs to be made before it just gets silly?

    I’m looking for suggestions.. Should we present the election to the strange and hateful clown wrapped in a red bow, or a green one?? I’m sure the writer is a sincere humanist, but this really is so full of trite assumption, and lacking in depth as to be nothing more than fodder for the tory “fourth estate”…. Am I the only one who got a pile of emails, and petitions from the labour party over this very issue?? I so, then I feel most privileged to be so blessed…..

    It’s exactly this sort of “white anting” that convinced me that the “standard” was a waste of space, and detrimental to the cause of real democratic governance for the people of NZ…. I’m starting to despair of there ever being enough people in NZ who actually grasp what democracy really means…..

    • Stephan,

      “It’s exactly this sort of “white anting” that convinced me that the “standard” was a waste of space, and detrimental to the cause of real democratic governance for the people of NZ…. I’m starting to despair of there ever being enough people in NZ who actually grasp what democracy really means….. ”

      Can you give us your “grasp” of what democracy means please?

    • Paving the way for another national victory? Just because I lean very heavily to the left, this does not mean I have to agree with how ALL left leaning parties behave or with all the policies they make. I think there is a real disconnect between activists and parliament which, I can admit, is evident in this short piece I wrote. There needs to be more conversation between activists and politicians so we can understand what measures we have ‘all’ taken to make this society a better and more equal place. And I’d like to point out, Labour is just a lighter shade of National’s blue. They have been leaning to the right wing more and more. And they have shown some really weak leadership over the last few years. If anything paths the way for another National win, it will be because Labour continues to fail to make strong policies and back the political underclass.

      • and this piece was not meant to go ‘in depth’ it is obviously to short for that, generally speaking I write really indepth pieces that are well researched. As political bloggers we dont always nail a piece to the wall.

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