Some words of caution for Andrew Little and Labour, but will they listen?

Tony Alexander, in his latest newsletter, has some words of caution for Andrew Little and the Labour party about the path they have embarked on.

Last week I noted that there are some trends which people (businesses I suppose, truth be told) should keep an eye on. These included growing wealth inequality and employers exploiting staff. Perhaps this latter thread is one of the motivating factors behind the new Leader of the Opposition’s announcement that he will set up a two year “Future of Work Commission”. The intention is that this project will examine changes in the way people work via numerous workshops and extensive contact with various groups. The risk is that it ends
up being a grumpy free for all for all and sundry so the first task of the work which Grant Robertson will lead is to tightly define what they wish specifically to focus on and go from there.

Good luck to them because one outcome of the GFC is an altered relationship between employers and employees. But more than that whole new industries and jobs have appeared, there is more casualisation and contracting, and a generation of people have come through the education system and entered the workforce with minimal awareness of what unions can offer them. And that union movement suffers greatly from being associated with exactly that – a politically motivated always Labour-supporting “movement” rather than true representation of employee concerns.

These are early days for the re-elected National government and early days for the latest Labour Party leader, so the thrust of changes in the employee-employer relationship for the next three years is still likely to be in the direction of further empowering the former. But employers should keep an eye on the building undercurrent of discontent among the working poor in particular, what the Aussies call the “battlers”, and where possible seek input into the new Commission.

I see this is the problem for Labour in their branding…it is still steeped in a long past era of union strong men, strikes, shouting, protest and slogans.

It is long on rhetoric and short on solutions.

I watched useless old media all fall for the same ld Labour tricks…a new leader promising to talk to people in the provinces, in the cossie clubs, the RSAs…touring the country getting the vibe of the nation.

Phil Goff did it, David Shearer took his guitar and did it, David Cunliffe said he did it but didn’t really, and now Andrew Little is saying he is going to do it.

The bottom line is they trot around the the country mouthing platitudes then return to Wellington and carry on regardless thinking they have hoodwinked the people into believing their tosh. Their brand is stuffed, their ranting and raving (and Little shows he is set to continue that) is ignored and they sink further into irrelevancy.

The new Labour party is the same as the old Labour party. The more things change the more they stay the same.

The world has moved on and unions are just not relevant anymore, neither are short, bespectacled angry men for that matter.


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  • BlitzkriegNZ

    I did a couple years temping recently and if Labour and the unions got their way attempting to make my life as an employee better, I’d have had no work over those couple years!

    • Ratchette

      Many years ago I used handicap workshops to package products. Some people had suffered a stroke, some were not as bright as normal, but everyone was really happy to be with the group. Productivity was low but the work was a good quality. Unions decided these people were being exploited and demanded they be paid a higher minimum wage. The labour government fixed that, so financially these workshops could no longer operate & closed. I guess those people now sit alone in their accommodation each morning looking out of the window. A great example of labour and union’s compassionate society.

      • Monty Bank

        I knew one of those sheltered workshops quite well, it assembled clothes pegs, amongst other things.
        Those who worked in them have been done a great disservice. Those workshops offered the workers the opportunity to build self-esteem and a sense of purpose, a sense of community, and to feel they are of value.
        Apart from all that, I remember the wonderful sense of humour that often rocked the workshop.

      • Michael

        I was involved in one of these too. The workers got their benefits, and then picked up extra income for doing jobs like this. There were a few who couldn’t do much, but the more capable ones graduated to full employment by proving that despite their disability they were capable of economic work.

        While the number of people affected were ultimately low so the outcry was limited to that particular community, I still rate that decision of the Labour Government as one of the most telling sign that it’s Ministers and MPs were too purely academic and not pragmatic, reasonable and compassionate in any way like they pretended to be.

        And I’m still mad that National haven’t repealed the changes to employment law – I know the left will portray it as National picking on the weak, but I’d know the truth, as would thousands of others. And we’d know never to vote for the truly heartless Labour/Greens coalition ever again.

  • Hard1

    Poor Labour is fast becoming a retirement village. The future of Labour is Paraparaumu after the bypass. All the accidents will be low speed and local.

  • MAWG

    If unions really cared about the welfare of their working members, they should realise that the first ingredient of a well paid worker is actually having a job, and then being productive in that job.

    A union movement that believed in a right to work should back the party that creates real work, and real jobs, and should work with employers to ensure that productive workers are properly rewarded, while those who are not productive, and in doing so put the well being of all workers at risk, are helped to become productive.

    Unions don’t believe this, and that is why in all industries union membership is at an all time low, except teaching and the civil service.

    • Mainstream Mike

      f unions really cared about the welfare of their working members,

      they’d go out of business.

  • Iceberg

    Their solution will be more jobs in government. It always is.

    • Tamaki

      Ha hum the latest public servant data has national employing more public servants than Aunty Helen. My guess is that half of them spend half the day replying to their spam mail.

  • Bartman

    “a generation of people have come through the education system and entered the workforce with minimal awareness of what unions can offer them.” And that is, sweet FA! If you discount a mouthy hierarchy, union dues going into the troughs, and a constant antagonistic attitude that serves to maintain the illusion of necessity.

  • Mainstream Mike

    Right! The #1 law change NZ needs is banning public sector unions, the #2 law change is real “right to work” laws, and #3 banning union aligned political parties.

    We’ve had a Nat. govt for six years: it’s well past time they got busy on this.

    That will do far far more for every Kiwi than any possible “accommodation” with unionists!

  • The majority of people in this country are city dwellers, over half of them in 1 city. Labour could win an election by just winning the major cities. As far as strategising goes the Provinces and smaller cities are the hard way to go in winning an election.

    Labour will never get anywhere pushing the Union connection. Unions are seen by a significant part of the society as useless. They need to either drop that connection or push it to the background.

  • Mikex

    I shake my head in bewilderment at the shear hypocrisy of Labours relationship with the unions. Its bad enough they compulsory levy union members to put money into their political coffers, let alone giving the union hierarchy a prescribed vote on what dipstick leads the party.
    Imagine the righteous indignation howling from the left if National brought in a similar levy on all sucessful businesses and also gave them a vote on who should be leader.

  • Aucky

    An immediate and very effective countering tactic by the government would be to introduce legislation to force the unions to collect their fees from the workers directly rather than via the paypacket. There are no admin problems for them to do this in the age of high-tech banking. The problem for the unions will be the visibility of the fees to the worker and how little they get in return.

  • HSV325

    Workplaces in the future will go the way of VHS video, Record and CD stores and print media. The landscape will completely change as technology opens up more efficiencies and opportunities. Unions are irrelevant

  • Monito

    I was very impressed with Stuart Nash on Q&A this morning makes a heap of sense and handles himself well – pity he is riding on the wrong boat.

  • cmm

    The new labour market makes unions irrelevant, but unfortunately for Labour the unions tell them what to do.

    As the unions become less relevant, then become more marginalised and more militant to keep feeling they’re relevant, which only turns more people off… a death spiral.

    But the union stronghold on Labour forces that death spiral onto Labour too.

    Andy has gone off-script as far as the unions are concerned. It was the unions that gave Andy the leadership position. If he had said two months back what he is saying now, then they would not have supported him and Robertson would have got the leadership.

    The current position is not stable. I doubt Little will last until the middle of next year.