GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – Labour strengthens worker rights and put’s $30 a week into pay-packets of poorest workers

By   /   July 1, 2017  /   31 Comments

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Increasing the minimum wage by 75cents an hour would give workers on the minimum wage working a 40hour week an extra $30 in their pay-packets each week.

We have released our worker rights policy and there is more than enough in this to make every worker in New Zealand better off under a Labour Government.

I’m passionate about worker rights, my earliest involvement with politics was when I worked with the meat workers’ union where I became a delegate and Union president. If workers don’t work together we are at the mercy of the boss.

Not all bosses are bad buggers, many are decent Kiwis who care about the welfare of their workers, but there are bad bosses and we need strong laws and strong unions to protect against them.

Here’s what we are promising:

1) Increasing the minimum wage to $16.50 an hour.

2) Replacing the current National Government’s ‘fire at will’ law with fair trial periods that provide both protection against unjustified dismissal and a simple, fair, and fast referee service.

3) Introducing Fair Pay Agreements that set fair, basic employment conditions across an industry based on the employment standards that apply in that industry.

4) Promoting the Living Wage by paying it to all workers in the core public service, and extending it to contractors over time.

Increasing the minimum wage by 75cents an hour would give workers on the minimum wage working a 40hour week an extra $30 in their pay-packets each week.

Dumping the fire at will law will give workers protection from bosses who want to exploit them and forcing a new resolution system that puts fairness at the centre of the process instead of good faith bargaining means the workers are protected instead of the bosses with all the money and power.

The way we lift people out of poverty is by ensuring workers have safe work environments and are paid a fair rate per hour for their skills. National and their Maori Party mates have strangled off union rights and this has weakened workers, which in turn has locked them into poverty.

Labour has the solutions to empower unions and workers so that everyone can prosper, just like the bosses do.

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31 Comments

  1. Siobhan says:

    Yes to this, we need increased wages, thats a no brainer, for a start the landlords of the working poor need more feeding.
    And you are right, increased Union strength is vital, and only possible under Labour.
    But I know from my own kids and their friends, in the 20 something age group, and my Xer and baby boomer friends who are struggling with changes in their industries, that the biggest problem they face is total insecurity over hours worked each week, and even jobs that are full time are just short term contract.
    So for them this increase is seen as just fiddling around the edges, it will have minimal effect on their actual sense of worth or security, or, for that matter their ability to afford study.
    This sacred idea that employers need ‘flexibility’ on a week to week basis is hogwash.
    It leaves us all looking like the guys hanging around the wharves looking for a days work back in the bad old days. Or Mexicans hanging on street corners in the States waiting for a contractor to pull up needing some extra workers.
    The only difference is our kids are sitting at home waiting for the cell phone to ring and call them to work.
    We need, not fiddling, we need A NEW VISION of society…then maybe Labour can look at an actual lift in the polls worth talking about.

    • In Vino says:

      Agreed. Even $16.50 an hour is a demeaning amount to be paid, and the lack of job security would make it soul-destroying. It is sad to see NZ heading towards a worsening state of society. In the late 70s I lived and worked in both England and West Germany. England suffered badly from ‘the English disease’, where the workers got poor wages, and had no reason to respect or work hard for the rich bosses. So they didn’t, by and large. NZ is plunging down the path to the same attitude. In West Germany the workers were much better-paid, and often had participation shares in the companies they worked for. While both countries had strikes, the German workers had a better standard of living, and a far more positive attitude to work that gave them some pride. The Ford Capris built in Cologne sounded as tidy and smooth as a Mercedes, whereas the Capris produced in London rattled along like they were already 10 years old. Our employers and business leaders here seem determined to copy the wrong example.

    • Louis says:

      What a shame you ruined a good argument by referencing to opinion polls. We’ve had 9 years of fiddling and pretense Labour’s report on the changing nature of work is an interesting read. http://www.futureofwork.nz/

      • In Vino says:

        I did not mention any opinion poll. If you are not relying to me, don’t press reply. Just write your comment and then post it.

        • Louis says:

          I did. My reply was to Siobhan. If it had of been a reply to you it would have indented under your comment as your comment did to mine.

          • In Vino says:

            Fair enough. I see the indent now, but think a number system would make things clearer. And I think your point is exaggerated – Siobhan could have just said ‘increased popularity’. Mentioning polls ruins her argument how? I know the polls can be unreliable, but …

      • Siobhan says:

        By opinion polls I mean…voting.

        • Louis says:

          Thank you for clarifying, I thought you meant the polls that are made up in an office. Labour has been doing very well in the local govt elections and by elections, those are the kind of polls that count, where people physically go out and vote. The poll on Sept 23rd will be interesting.

  2. WILD KATIPO says:

    1) ” Increasing the minimum wage by 75cents an hour would give workers on the minimum wage working a 40hour week an extra $30 in their pay-packets each week.”

    This alone will be a Godsend to many struggling family’s for so many reasons – especially for those with young family’s.

    2) ‘Replacing the current National Government’s ‘fire at will’ law with fair trial periods that provide both protection against unjustified dismissal and a simple, fair, and fast referee service.’

    And this will work its way into the issue of immigrant exploitation – stripping and exposing those mercenary employers who use the threat of visa /residency termination as a weapon. There have been many cases where employers have taken on staff with the sole motive of only employing them for the trial period then using bogus reasons for dismissing them – and avoiding redundancy pay outs etc.

    3) ‘Introducing Fair Pay Agreements that set fair, basic employment conditions across an industry based on the employment standards that apply in that industry.’

    One thing this will do will end the cynically manipulated current situation of employers using the ‘ contract’ to divide and underpay sectors of the workforce such as women , students and immigrants which causes antagonism and division among workers . Standardizing this process empowers Trade Union membership that can then advocate as a collective on behalf of the individual and make it far more difficult for worker abuse to occur. There are many industry’s today that dismiss someone on the spot for joining a Trade Union. The security industry is a major offender , for example.

    4) Promoting the Living Wage by paying it to all workers in the core public service, and extending it to contractors over time.

    And this final one is the jewel in the crown. The campaign for a Living Wage was successful overseas because it was started in the public service first. From there , it spread to the resistant private sector and actually INCREASED productivity / profit for employers. For 3 decades we have been sold the lie of the ‘ level playing field ‘ , ‘ more choices’ , ‘efficiency ‘ , ‘ more competition leading to cheaper prices’…

    This was all a neo liberal lie.

    This was lobbied for by the likes of the Business Roundtable ( now calling themselves the New Zealand Institute ) and was code for dismantling workers award rates and dis-empowering Trade Unions by placing workers on ‘contracts’ through legislation such as the Employment Contracts Act. And it was through their political ‘ plants ‘ and advocates such as Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson they achieved their national sovereignty busting ‘ initiatives’.

    LEVEL PLAYING FIELD contained many nuances , – on the surface it has connotations of ‘fairness’ . The fact is , internationally , it is used as a weapon by rich country’s and trading blocks like the E.U through bodies such as the WTO to ensure poorer country’s maintain a source of cheap labour and resources. The TTPA would have done just that, – created an ever spiraling downwards race to the bottom of workers of different country’s competing against each other – for both jobs and wages. In a local setting, it translated into small company’s competing against each other by undercutting – with workers themselves on contracts paying the price in wages and conditions.

    MORE CHOICES simply meant ‘more choices’ available for employers to dictate their terms. Terms including wage rates , entitlements , conditions and the ability to dismiss an employee for any reason they chose without suffering any consequences. It was used with the blunt implication of ‘ accept my terms or your down the road’.

    EFFICIENCY was code for buying SOE’s at fire sale prices, asset stripping those SOE’s then making redundant large numbers of employees and retaining a skeleton staff,- who , – were expected to work far longer hours to compensate the lack of manpower at flat rates. Overtime pay became virtually non existent and pressure to work anti social hours with no corresponding remuneration to compensate such as time and a half, double time and triple time.

    MORE COMPETITION LEADING TO CHEAPER PRICES was a phrase we often heard during the Richardson / Shipley / Bolger era . Simply put , it involved the illusion of the break up of perceived monopoly’s ( such as the state owned power grid , rail etc that was paid for in taxes and provided cheap electricity ) by privatization . It was all a ruse . And the exact opposite happened. Prices rose as wages dropped. To the point now where many family’s cannot even afford to heat their homes. As a result , we now know 1600 people die in New Zealand as a direct result of cold houses in our winters.

    ……………………………….

    These policy’s that Labour have recently released represent far more than just a surface improvement for the New Zealand worker and their family’s. Given time, they represent a return to a more equitable and fair New Zealand not just for working people, but also the middle classes. It is a platform which can be built on to achieve a far better future for coming generations.

  3. phillip ure says:

    75 cents and hour..eh..?..labours’ ‘vision’..?

    let the good times roll..!..eh..?

    and the release of this policy just proves that labour/little are determined to deliver neoliberal-incrementalism..

    to an electorate screaming out for the likes of the suite of democratic-socialist policies offering/promising real/meaningful change – that served corbyn so well..

    labour still hasn’t ‘got’ that loud imperative/message..eh..?..

    ah well….!..their loss..eh..?

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Should be a six monthly increase to $20 which will match overseas trends.

      • WILD KATIPO says:

        Good idea, but things need to be taken one step at a time.

        As it is – the original architects of this neo liberal paradise are already squawking ,… it will be good to see them squawk some more. Remember the Living Wage campaign met fierce resistance at first , simply because it IS a campaign to dislodge these cretins neo liberal influence… also… it will take a power of work to restore the damage of 3 decades of plundering.

        If things can be done sooner, all the better. As there really is no real reason why not. But this is the best we have seen for a long time from any party. And they are talking the living wage starting with the public sector.

        Roll on the September elections and a change in government.

        Happy days.

        Take that , Mike Hosking .

        You weasel.

        • Louis says:

          “but things need to be taken one step at a time”

          Is the most sensible and reasonable way to go. Have had enough of National’s cockups of ill thought out badly implemented “plans” that only hurt more people in the long run. So damned right, kick the bastards out come September, they deserve it. Cant come soon enough.

    • Louis says:

      Labour’s policy is a good start. Remember out of small things big things grow, and its a hell of lot better than what we have now under National.

      • phillip ure says:

        no..it’s an incrementalist-change – not the seachange of the living-wage – which is what is required..

        and yes..that ‘vote labour – they’re not quite as bad as the torys’ argument may have served them well in the past..

        but no longer – many have tired of the status-quo of a low-wage/high-cost-of-living/housing economy that labour must take equal responsibility for delivering..

        and fuck incrementalism..!..eh..?..it gets us nowhere..only helps the current elites/’haves’…

        and labour has set a new benchmark in incrementalism – with their free tertiary-education (for some) policy..

        it starts to kick in after labour are elected three times..(!)

        that education-policy way way in the future also sets a new benchmark in delayed-gratification..(‘when do we want it..?’ – ‘in nine years!’)

        ..the status-quo/incrementalism such as labour is displaying only reinforces what neoliberal-labour and neoliberal-national between them have wrought ..

        and if there is the expected walk-away from both of the big parties..peters and morgan will reap some tory voters – and the greens should do quite well from those tired of labour offering not very much in the way of real change..

        this is building to be the election of the small-parties..with greens/nz first/morgans-party all frontrunners to benefit..

        until labour pivot from neoliberal-incrementalism back to their democratic-socialism roots – and start promising some real change..

        then they are toast – an irrelevancy..

        • Louis says:

          The minor parties cannot change the government alone for that you do need Labour, but because it doesn’t go far enough you think its best to stick with the status quo where National’s polices are set decades into the future?

  4. David says:

    Oh that’s great 10 bucks more than National’s promise.Is this a repeat of the Labour governments chewing gum tax cuts and countered by the National party pizza tax cut.
    God, just more of the same,in a constantly changing world we can rely on National and Labour to be as they have been for the last 30 years.

  5. Susan st john says:

    Typical family with one and one half earners ie 60 hours a week. They get an extra $45 gross but after tax ACC and loss of working for families and accomm supplement they will be lucky to have $15 in hand. And there may be student loan repayments Time for labour to get to grips with effective marginal tax rates