Air NZ strike notice lifted

Air New Zealand strikes planned for three days before Christmas have been called off. This will be a relief for the many people who would have been affected.

I presume some sort of agreement or compromise has been made between the airline and union, but I also expect there would have been a lot of anger expressed to them. I don’t know how badly pay negotiations were going, but threatening to strike at Christmas looked a bit like industrial blackmail.

Another response to Chinese trade allegations

David has responded in comments to Key on Chinese trade allegations:

Irresponsible idiots in the media doing the Dirty Politics with ETu union organiser now all over the media calling for tariffs to protect his workers which is perfectly fair but having the media try to kick off a trade war is bloody stupid.

This story has now been denied by pretty much everyone, the only exception is McLay saying he will have officials make a call which is code for shutting up idiot reporters given McLay has just spent a week in China at a trade meeting.

If this am ETu beat up via the media then yes, it is irresponsible.

I’ve had a quick look for “ETu union organiser now all over the media” and can’t find any sign of it.

Links to anything of this nature would help make a case for alleged union irresponsibility.

It didn’t just happen

A misleading Martyn Bradbury headline: That thing Key promised was unlikely to happen with the TPPA just happened

Beyond the spin that NZers would have a say about the TPPA, beyond the lies of how much money it will make us, beyond the fact it’s an American geopolitical strategy to counter China in the pacific – is the terrifying reality that the TPPA opens NZ up to foreign corporations suing us if domestic law costs them money.

Key say’s it’s unlikely to happen – it just did.

Except that it didn’t just happen under the TPPA.

The thing that is happening between Canada and the US is under the North American Free Trade Agreement and has nothing to do with the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which hasn’t yet been signed or ratified and hasn’t come into effect yet.

Bradbury goes on to sort of acknowledge this…

…by signing the TPPA and having it ratified by the necessary members John Key is signing away our ability to pass domestic law without costing us millions in legal fees and opening us up to potentially massive damage claims from unscrupulous corporates.

But as we know Bradbury’s frantic ranting is hard to take seriously. He is in the ‘trade deal bad’ and ‘corporation bad’ club.

I wonder how many members of the unions who support The Daily Blog (presumably financially) owe their employment to corporations?

And I wonder how many of them owe their employment to trade deals?

I suspect the jobs of some members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union are at least partly reliant on imports and exports that happen because of trade deals.

“Care for people rather than the economy”

There was an interesting line up on Q & A this morning, with a repeated theme of people versus corporations and the economy.

First Tim Groser was interviewed on the Government view on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Then Labour leader Andrew Little was interviewed, also about the TPPA. He said things like “our moral duty is to protect the interests of New Zealand citizens”, “we will legislate to protect New Zealanders” and “I’ve got to make judgement calls on what’s the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders”.

On the panel were two who were pro-TPPA – international relations specialist from Auckland Uni Dr Stephen Hoadley and Government Relations Consultant Charles Finney.

Also on the panel was Helen Kelly, President of Council of Trade Unions, who was against the TPPA, seeing it as corporations versus people/workers.

If you think the economy is just existing for corporations and they should be able to do whatever they like  without Governments actually being able to put in restrictions or make laws that are in the the interests of New Zealand people then you might say that these sorts of deals are ok.

Curiously, following this, there was an interview of someone also pushing people versus the economy lines. Greg Presland has posted about this at The Standard.

Anat Shenker-Osorio on the creation of left metaphors

Communications Anat Shenker-Osorio has some simple messages for Labour in its quest for Government.  The left’s strongest advantage is its care for people rather than the economy and the message that will resonate is a positive one emphasising the care of people and the environment.

For unions she proposed that it should be emphasised that they are not somewhat dated third parties but a collection of people.

“We have a better brand.

“Our brand is that we love people and we are on the side of people and we are on the side of the nation and we just need to stop having the argument about who loves the economy best.”

If you want a flavour of her approach to politics and her scathing critique of the current infatuation of some with “middle ground” or “third way” politics then the video below provides this. Basically her message is that the left should engage the base, persuade the middle rather than cater to them and if it is not alienating the right it is not doing things properly.

Shenker-Osorio is in New Zealand to give a talk to the CTU Conference.

So Q & A had a triple hit on people versus the economy:

  • A staunch Unionist
  • A Unionist who has become leader of the Labour Party
  • A communications expert, researcher and political pundit 

Anat Shenker-Osorio is a communications expert, researcher and political pundit whose one-of-a-kind work is challenging the way dozens of organizations and political figures talk about the most pressing issues of our time.  She’s the author of the acclaimed book“Don’t Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy.”

What Little, Kelly and Shenker-Osorio all failed to acknowledge (and possibly understand) is that a healthy economy is good for workers and for people in general. There is a very close relationship between the health of the economy and the well being of and opportunities for people.

Playing the economy versus people line might fools some of the people some of the time but most of those people may be the ideological players rather than the voters.

Incidentally I wasn’t very impressed with Shenker-Osorio but you can make up your own mind if you missed her this morning on Q & A:

Video: Expert advice for the political left (7:54) 

Anat Shenker Osorio, an expert in the science of linguistics who helps left wing or progressive organisations to help them target their political conmunication.


“How hamstrung by Union fealty he is” (Andrew Little)

This morning on Q & A Labour leader Andrew Little said the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement failed Labour’s bottom lines on two counts – that it didn’t allow legislation that stopped foreign nationals from buying property in New Zealand (and he supported Grant Robertson/Jacinda Ardern’s suggestion that Labour would ignore the Agreement and cop the consequences), and that the gains for dairy trade were too small to justify the agreement.

So while Little says they have to wait until they can see the details of the TPP Agreement he seems to have positioned himself and Labour as being against the Treaty.

When asked how this sat with Helen Clark’s comments – she said it would be “unthinkable” for New Zealand to be left out of the TPP Agreement) – Little waffled around without directly disagreeing with Clark.

In comments on Andrew Little on the TPPA (on Q &A) Traveller said:

I could feel sorry for Little if I wasn’t so hard hearted. Every time he opens his mouth he illustrates how hamstrung by Union fealty he is. How hearts and minds will be won in 2017 by what we’re all coming to see is a Union movement dominated Labour I’m buggered if I know.

It does appear that Little is backing what seems to be a general Union stance of free trade agreements and particularly the TPPA – they are bad because they are pro-corporation and anti worker.

What Unionists don’t acknowledge that many workers are employed by corporations.

Many businesses in New Zealand that will benefit from reduced or removed tariffs and reduced trade barriers are small businesses, and medium and large sized business that employer workers.

I’m not aware of many worker controlled co-operatives involved in international trade in New Zealand. I guess that’s because Unions want the Government to employ everyone.

But even if the Government employed everyone New Zealand would still be very reliant on trade with other countries. And that would benefit from more trade agreements, not less.

I can understand Unionists being immersed in worker versus corporation ideology.

I understand that Andrew Little was a Unionist before he became an MP and before he become leader of the Labour Party.

I also understand that Little became leader of the Labour Party in no small part because of the 20% of the vote for leader that unions get, plus a good share of the membership 40%..

I also understand that the not much of the Labour Caucus 40% went to Little.

I don’t know if Little is hamstrung be Union fealty, but he certainly seems committed to supporting Union ideology on the TPPA. Which means opposing it.

If so this is a major change in position on trade agreements for Labour. Or at least for some of Labour.

It wouldn’t be surprising if there’s quite a bit of concern in Labour’s Caucus about this significant shift.

Little seems to be committed to being anti-TPPA and pro passing legislation that ignores the Agreement, similar to Robertson and Ardern.

Where does this put Labour’s deputy, Annette King. I don’t know how inclined towards Union fealty she is.

Is this enough to swing favouritism for deputy in Labour’s promised reshuffle next month towards Ardern?

Little better on Q & A (Workplace Safety)

Labour leader Andrew Little was interviewed on Q & A yesterday. It focussed on a topic he knows well due to his twenty year union background, and he did a much better job than i his heavily criticised effort on The Nation the previous day (see The Nation: Little and Labour repeating failed strategies).

In particular when host Greg Boyed tried to bring up worm farming…

Try to explain to me, as somebody who’s not in Parliament, how on earth—You know, the media’s got plenty of comedy value out of this with the worm farming and that – how is something like that even allowed to slip through? Surely someone must have seen that in the early stages – ‘Right, we’ll push that aside. We don’t want that mentioned in the same time.’ How did that happen?

…Little dismissed the meduia beatup and turned to a positive approach to improving the Bill instead.

I don’t want to get heavily into that. Something would have happened between the officials and the minister, and Michael Woodhouse has worn enough over the last few days. I would rather work with Michael and whoever else in his government and his support parties…

That looks like a significant and welcome change of approach from Little.

Video: Workplace Safety – Labour (10:24)

This followed an interview with Michael Woodhouse on the same topic – see Woodhouse on the Workplace Health and Safety Bill.

Transcript of the Andrew Little interview:

GREG Welcome back to Q + A. Well, we heard Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse before the break. Let’s bring in Labour Leader Andrew Little. You heard what he had to say – that the overall feeling he wanted to put forth is this is not set in granite – there’s a lot of room for this to change. What are your thoughts and what do you have to say?

ANDREW The truth is, we have one chance to pass the law and to get it right. And that’s going to happen sometime this week. And what’s important for public confidence in the law is that we get it right now. So I don’t accept his view that we can now go through the law change process, have it ridiculed, if only for some parts of it, and then somehow through the consultation process that will follow, that will restore public confidence, because it won’t.

So what the minister needs to do now – and the support parties who are part of propping up this Government – is we actually need to take the next couple of days to see if we can thrash out what a good law is going to look like so we can very quickly restore public confidence in it.

GREG Okay, without burying people in legislation, red tape and a lot of cost, how can it be changed from here so it’s actually going to mean less people are killed in the workplace?

ANDREW Well, what we can’t have, for the sake of public confidence, is this process now where the minister can designate industries ‘high hazard’ or ‘low risk’. Because what we’ve seen with that in the last few days is that’s a very arbitrary line to draw.

And you get the silly absurdities where worm farming, which according to the minister, has caused deaths, is regarded as more high risk than the industry that has killed over 100 people in the last three years, and that’s farming, whether it’s dairy, beef or whatever.

GREG The thing I’m finding frustrating, and I think most people are, is you go, ‘Okay, on one hand, farming is dangerous – a lot of people die. But they’re not going to be under this. They’re not going to feel the weight of this. They’re not going to get any safer. What am I missing? Why is that happening?

ANDREW I think the myth is that the average farm now is kind of Mum, Dad and the kids and the odd bit of farm labour that comes on. That’s actually not the average farm anymore.

The average farm is a properly-run business and there’s labour coming and going all the time. And so they are not the three or four operation. They can be a dozen, they can be up to 20. They might fall under that threshold that the Government’s put in place to try and exclude them, but they still need a culture and an environment in the workplace where the health and safety issues can be talked about.

And I’ve spoken to farm labourers who tell me that if only they knew when they were going to work on the farm that there was a colleague, you know, somebody at their equal – not the farm owner, but a colleague – who could induct them in about the health and safety and what the expectations were, that would make the difference, and that’s what we need. And the legislation needs to reflect that.

GREG Having said that, there are still operations that are Mum, Dad and the kids or two or three people. To have a health and safety officer foisted upon them is absurd, and the cost of it and the legislation of it – that would be absurd, wouldn’t it?

ANDREW So if the legislation is drafted so that was optional – if there were any employed workers there, paid workers there or contractors who say, ‘Yeah, I just want to have somebody who I can go to,’ yeah, let’s do it. The reality is in the small, more intimate businesses, that won’t happen, in the same way that hasn’t happened under previous legislation.

But there will be places, and I think of workplaces of the 10 to 20 level, where, actually, that is real, where you get a group of people – they are working there. Even at that level, people want to know that there is a system that they can contribute to, where their voice is heard and that they can raise issues with impunity, and that’s important too.

In the end, good health and safety comes down to good workplace culture, and even quite small workplaces still need a good workplace culture. The legislation, and certainly now the debate we’re having over it because of the mishandling of the categorisation, is undermining confidence in this new legislation, which is the last thing we need given what’s happened that’s led us to have this legislation in the first place.

GREG Labour was on board with this until July. When, where and why did it go wrong as far as you were concerned?

ANDREW When that legislation first came in, we were pretty happy with it. We thought there were some changes at the margins but it covered everybody. And there was enough in there that for the very small businesses, of course it wouldn’t be onerous for them; they’ll carry on sorting out the way they operated.

Then the Government was determined to get exemptions, and that’s actually what’s driven all of the consensus flying apart.They were desperate to exclude small businesses, and in reality they were desperate to exclude farmers because we know that the farming lobby was very powerful in saying, ‘We don’t want to be constrained by this.’

So they excluded small businesses, then they realised they still had to include high-risk businesses – well, farming and agriculture still is high-risk, so then they had to find a way to exclude that. And it’s kind of exception upon exception upon exemption that’s led to the distortions that’s led to the absurdities that we’re now debating and is now undermining confidence.

GREG I want to talk about the families of Pike River, who we saw at Parliament this week, understandably frustrated with the delay, and at the end of it, frustrated with the outcome. That said, and with the absolute greatest of respect to the families there, apart from something like corporate manslaughter being installed, is any of this ever going to be satisfactory to them? And I think most people would understand the answer would be no.

ANDREW It’s not just the Pike River families. We had families from the forestry industry there whose family members had been killed in the forestry industry, and we had a couple of others there as well, even representatives from the timber industry and timber processes from 20 years ago, where poisoning actually ended up killing people.

So it was a cross section, and I think they are people who, because they have experienced the grief of the loss of somebody who has gone to work and not come home, they are a champion for saying we’ve got to get workplace health and safety right.

This is our chance after the tragedy of Pike River, to get it right, and I would just say to the minister, if you’re serious about getting a law that he can be proud of – and he should do, because I don’t think he’s the one at fault here – let’s take the next couple of days with him, and I’m more than happy to meet with him and use the benefit of my 20 years’ experience in this area doing health and safety in the workplace, representing families at coroners’ inquests, to get this law right so that we can get it through Parliament.

I don’t think it’s going to be good for this minister and his government for us to have another day, two days, three days, who knows how long this will take to debate through Parliament, and continue what is undermining confidence in what should be a good piece of legislation.

GREG The aims they’ve got – 25% less deaths in five years, by 2021 – is that enough? That seems not terribly ambitious to me.

ANDREW If you get the culture right—It’s interesting the minister talked about the forestry industry. What happened in the forestry industry is that they finally had a wake-up call and they finally found some leaders within that industry that said, ‘This can’t go on,’ and they worked with worker representatives, the CTU and others, they did an inquiry, they got some good recommendations, and the forestry companies and even down at the contractor level committed to improving workplace health and safety in that industry.

And that’s making the difference. But they had the impetus to do it. Well, we need a piece of legislation – this law, the Health and Safety Reform Bill – that is the impetus to every employer and every worker, saying, ‘Yep, we get it now. We’ve got the message. We’re all committed to lifting our performance and we’ll make the difference.’

GREG Are fines the way to go? Are penalties for people who don’t play it safe and do things right – is that something we should be looking at increasing?

ANDREW You want WorkSafe New Zealand, as the, kind of, police officer of all of this, to have some discretion about how they approach it. And what happens with a small business isn’t going to be identical with what happens with a large corporate in a high-risk industry. So you want some scope for discretion about warnings and education, but you do need a backstop, which is the more punitive measures that you take.

But, you know, I trust WorkSafe New Zealand to get it right, when it’s about working with businesses as well as the workforce, to lift our health and safety performance.

GREG So you sit down with the minister, which is unlikely, but you said you would. If you sat down with him, in a pithy sentence or two, what would you say needs to change between now and a few days to actually make this effective so people are going to stop dying on the job?

ANDREW Let’s make sure that the way the law is drafted gives the same message to everybody, and let’s trust people to get it right when it comes to implementation and trust WorkSafe to get it right when it comes to enforcing the rules.

GREG To an extent, are we being naïve to think we can do much more to the death toll than we’ve already done? You’ve got people, you’ve got heavy machinery, you’ve got dangerous situations in farms, you’ve got hills, you’ve got equipment that fails. You can’t legislate that risk away completely, can you?

ANDREW The question is why our farming sector has a bigger fatality record and more serious accidents than the agricultural industries in other countries. And bearing in mind too that in our agriculture industry, we have underreporting of incidents. And WorkSafe New Zealand did a survey and found that roughly a quarter of serious-harm accidents that actually happen are being reported.

There’s a whole heap not being reported, so the picture is probably worse than is being made out. We can do better. In the OECD, we rank fifth from the bottom in terms of workplace health and safety performance.

We can do better, we have to do better, we must do better. People are entitled to know when they go to work, they’ve got best chance than ever of returning home safe again at the end of it. That’s what it comes to.

GREG Try to explain to me, as somebody who’s not in Parliament, how on earth—You know, the media’s got plenty of comedy value out of this with the worm farming and that – how is something like that even allowed to slip through? Surely someone must have seen that in the early stages – ‘Right, we’ll push that aside. We don’t want that mentioned in the same time.’ How did that happen?

ANDREW I don’t want to get heavily into that. Something would have happened between the officials and the minister, and Michael Woodhouse has worn enough over the last few days. I would rather work with Michael and whoever else in his government and his support parties, left a message with Peter Dunne’s office on Friday.

We’ve had some back-channel talks with the Maori Party. I would rather be working with the Government and their support parties to get this right.

We arrive at Parliament on Tuesday, and we get something that we can all get behind and we can say to New Zealand, ‘Whatever happened, we’ve got this right now. We are all confident and pleased with it, and this will make a difference to New Zealand.’

Odd description of a union

It’s funny where your name can pop up. A comment in a thread about unions:

How strange that an employer advises against joining a union. Wonders will never cease.

gsays, being part of a union affects much more than just your immediate work conditions. It also means you get to feed into Labour policy and get to build solidarity and organisation with other workers. These days, when government and employers want to atomise and individualise us, this is more important than ever.

Being a member of an active union is like being part of the Standard community, but without Pete George.

I can easily envisage a union without me in it. I’ve never been in a union by choice. I have felt comfortable dealing directly with my employers, or getting a different job.

But an active union being likened to ‘the Standard community’ is not a very flash look for unions. Any union member that doesn’t read Marx is blacklisted? If you disagree with the uniion head you get abused and thrown out of the union?

And then it wouold depend on whether you belonged to the right union or not. One unionist got a blast today:

[lprent: How dare you. Piss off out of my sight you pumped up small minded pathetically limp excuse for an activist. You just lost your ranting rights here for a while.

Maybe Pat isn’t from one of the Standard unions.

A Little challenge on 90 day trial

Andrew Little’s ‘State of the Nation’ speech was big on employment ambition via small businesses but little on detail. He can be excused for being vague at this stage, but he and Labour face some tough decisions. One of those is on the 90 day trial put in place by National. The Labour left is ideologically opposed to it.

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff writes in Big on ambition, little on how to get there:

During last year’s election campaign trail, the 90-day trial legislation came up with frequency and passion usually reserved for socially progressive legislation.

In broad terms, it allows employers to terminate the contracts of employees if it is not working out.

Up and down the country it was repeatedly raised by voters. Support is far from universal, but among the audience Little appears to be pitching to, it is clearly strong.

For the tradesman or the cafe owner looking to take on their first, or even fiftieth employee, the trials are seen by many as cast iron insurance that a lazy worker will not be allowed to undermine their livelihood, even among many Labour-backing businesspeople.

Although core Labour supporters may have a natural aversion to a sweeping right to dismiss employees under almost any circumstances, the sheer number of small businesses means it is an issue that must be addressed by Labour in purely political terms, however difficult that may be.

The ‘labour left’ – union supporters – were instrumental in getting Little into the leadership role. They will be disappointed if there’s no pledge to scrap the 90 day trial. But middle New Zealand, where a lot of small business owners are, will be instrumental in rebuilding Labour’s lost vote share.

Labour might try a compromise, like reducing the trial period to 60 or 30 days. But that risks pleasing no one and/or disappointing everyone.

Amongst many others there will be more than a little challenge getting this one right.

Little, Kiwiblog on fascism

Andrew Little’s ““We’ve just heard the voice of the fascist National Party,”  comment has been reported and also posted about on Kiwiblog – Someone teach Mr Little what fascism really is.

Some comments were directed at Peter Dunne for voting against the bill – they were typical uninformed bashing. And they asked me why he voted against, so I’ve responded.

Andrew Little made a dickish comment. I think it reinforces an impression he is not future leadership material, but when you look at Cunliffe’s vapid and vitriolic style of criticism it can’t be ruled out in the current Labour party.

To the dopey Dunne bashers, I have no idea why he voted against it, but I can guess.

The defeat was not unexpected as a number of National ministers and employer groups have expressed disquiet about the bill being a step too far.

So his vote seems sensible to me. Coincidentally he may have done National a favour.

Moanolo’s cut and paste ” the perennial whore Dunne repositioning himself” is clearly wrong, especially when you look at what else was voted on and how he voted – Members’ Bills Shot Down.

Dunne also voted against Winston Peters’ Reserve Bank Amendment Bill presumably because it’s a dumb bill.

And he indicated (in the news) he will vote against Harawira’s Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools Bill because he thinks it is “fundamentally flawed for a number of reason” and he thinks the current Government approach is cheaper and “a far more comprehensive and feasible approach”.

Perpetual Dunne bashers don’t bother to find out for themselves, they ask me to do it for them. It’s not difficult if you want actual facts to back your comments with. On the other hand facts prove them to be nothing more than pissy dissers so that probably explains it.

A hilarious response on Kiwiblog from ‘big bruv’:

Jesus wept!….”dopey Dunne bashers”?………..And you wonder you cop so much abuse on this blog.

Your arrogance is outstanding, matched only by Redbaiters. What on earth gives you the idea that the 99.02% of people in NZ are wrong about the political whore Dunne and you are right?

Dunne is in it for himself, always has been. What you and the other 0.08 of idiots who support him forget is that Dunne is only there because the Nat’s let him, Dunne has no right to vote against the government, none at all.

big bruv illustrates what I said – why let facts or the actual topic get in the way of a raving redbaiteresque rant.

Practising the Kiwiblog motto is easy. DPF should start direct marketing Kiwiblog Screen Wipes.

Dunne has no right to vote against the government, none at all.

Hilarious. If he votes with National he’s called a poodle, if he votes against he’s a traitor. And if he didn’t vote he’d be abused for sitting on the fence.

And here if I say something about him I’m abused. And if I don’t say anything about him I’m abused (as per the Little thread yesterday and many others).

And you wonder you cop so much abuse on this blog.

Ah, no I don’t wonder. You just have to look at those who do the abusing. Them without mirrors.

Dunne got enough votes in Ohariu to have a right to vote however he sees fit in Parliament. Unlike a few SpitLittles on Kiwiblog – the perpetually impotent.