Is it ‘class war’? New Zealand is now experiencing the highest level of industrial action for many years, with port, freezing and rest-home workers all taking action. The question is what, if anything, should politicians do to try and resolve these disputes? That question will be weighing on Len Brown most heavily, as his support base on the left becomes increasingly impatient with his passive approach to the ports dispute and the company his council owns. Greg Presland has some advice about What Len Brown should do about the POAL dispute. He looks in detail at what options Brown and councilors have to put pressure on their port company and concludes that removing directors, or threatening to do so, is the only direct lever they have. He suggests progressive Auckland councilors should try to pass a resolution urging a return to mediation and good-faith bargaining.
Yesterday Labour MP Phil Twyford called for Brown to take action and today Hone Harawira is calling for the Labour, NZ First and the Greens leaders to join him in meeting the mayor on the issue – see: Harawira calls on mayor to settle Ports dispute.
Chris Trotter looks at both the AFFCO and ports dispute and concludes that: ‘It’s class war – pure and simple’ – see: Equal and Opposite. He calls the disputes ‘a naked bid for unbridled employer power’, providing a Marxist-style analysis of struggles over industrial relations law. He warns employers that they are over-reaching themselves in their attempts to crush workers rights and livelihoods, and that the ultimate response will be workers eventually seeking to more than reverse this balance of power. Not that you will read about it in the media, according to Trotter – he claims that middle-class journalists won’t call it like it is, and that they implicitly accept the employer’s assumption that workers cannot own and defend their jobs and conditions. See also, Denise Roche’s Frogblog post, Employer militancy is the new black.
If it is indeed class war, then no one should have any doubt whose side Cameron Slater is on. In his Whaleoil blog post, 61 years, Slater hails the unloading of a container ship with 100% non-union labour as a ‘watershed’. Ports CEO Tony Gibson is also trumpeting the unloading of the Maersk Aberdeen as proof the port can minimise delays and losses due to the strike. Meanwhile, opposition parties are accusing the Government of taking sides and encouraging employers in their new hard-line actions. But John Key denies any responsibility and says changes to industrial relations legislation will be limited to what was flagged at the election. For more on this, see: Government accused of encouraging employer militancy. And for more on all the disputes, see William Mace’s Meatworkers fight for conditions and Danya Levy’s MPs, residents join aged care workers' strike.
There are very different aspects of the ‘class war’ going on in terms of the proposed shakeup of Mfat, but there’s unlikely to be a strike or lockout of the diplomats. Instead the ministry staff are making noises about resigning over the cuts that will make their postings less attractive – see Tracy Watkins’ Exodus threat over proposed MFAT cuts. She says that diplomatic allowances ‘can swell the size of a foreign-based diplomat's pay packet to as much as $500,000’. This is a bit of a problem for Labour, as the workers that Phil Goff is seeking to defend are not exactly at subsistence levels and conditions. Jane Clifton expands on this point in her report on yesterday in Parliament (Finger-pointing MPs jab themselves in the eye): ‘Phil Goff was sawing a violin for the pending heavy job losses among Foreign Affairs officials while at the same time deploring the extravagant spending plans those same officials had dreamed up to optimise their personal comforts while abroad’.
Revelations about lavish spending at Mfat won’t actually hurt the government as it looks to slash costs in the department. Duncan Garner quotes ‘one senior Government Minister’ as saying ‘the gold plated and lavish tastes of these self important bureaucrats are finally coming to an end’ – see: $1.3m upgrade to Niue MFAT residence stopped.
Brian Fallow continues to attack John Key over his claim that there are plenty of jobs for beneficiaries forced to seek work – see: Tough job market awaits beneficiaries. His parting shot is ‘In the end there is no substitute for a brisk rate of job creation from a strongly growing economy. With that, welfare reform is largely redundant. Without it, it is futile’. See also, Danyl Mclauchlan's Timing and the $130 million.
Peter Dunne’s crucial vote required to pass asset sales legislation will have the Government listening very carefully to his concerns. The latest is the possibility that individual assets (such as stand-alone power stations) could be hocked off if there was a buck to be made and it was in the interest of the minority private shareholders. Greens co-leader Russell Norman spelt out the possibility clearly, and Peter Dunne wants such an ‘asset stripping’ possibility to be prohibited under the legislation – listen to the Radio NZ story here. National will have to take note, as failure to implement the policy would be a major political humiliation. But it will be a challenge to address the political issues without scaring off private buyers.
Today’s parliamentary competition revolves more than ever around allegations about political finance and corruption – with parties readily using these weapons as the most effective form of partisan debate – often without much merit. Personal attacks tend to serve as a substitute for debate about genuine policy differences – there is a general rule of thumb in which the smaller the policy differences are between political parties, the more they are likely to resort of what might be seen as aggressive personal politics. The latest example comes from Trevor Mallard in his Red Alert blog post, Mapp to Law Commission – Cronyism. Such allegations are condemned by partisans of both the right (David Farrar: More nastiness from Labour) and the left (Robert Winter: On Mr Mapp's appointment).
Perhaps a more valid attack on National can be made over its continued poor handling of the NZ On Air saga – see No Right Turn’s Craig Foss lied to Parliament. Finally today, see Isaac Davison’s Auckland Council's Occupy bill lists spy firm payout and Duncan Garner’s In defence of Bennett’s welfare shakeup. [Continue reading below for a full list of the highlights of NZ Politics Daily]
Below are the internet links to all the NZ politics material from the last 24 hours that are either informative, insightful, interesting or influential. This list and the links are taken from a fuller document, NZ Politics Daily, which is emailed out, Monday to Friday, to various researchers, academics, journalists, MPs and so forth. The document is purely for research purposes only, and if you would like to be on the subscription list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Presland (Waitakere News): What Len Brown should do about the POAL dispute
Chris Trotter (Bowalley Road): Equal and Opposite
Denise Roche (Frogblog): Employer militancy is the new black
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Brown: “We cannot tamper in the management of the port”
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): 61 Years
Danya Levy (Stuff): MPs, residents join aged care workers' strike
William Mace (Stuff): Meatworkers fight for conditions
Conor O'Brien (NBR): Ports of Auckland marks union-busting milestone
Newswire: Govt blamed for spate of strikes
Susie Nordqvist (Newswire): No money to meet union's demands - Oceania
Hana Garrett-Walker (APNZ): Meatworks lockout: 'Children will suffer'
Brian Fallow (Herald): Tough job market awaits beneficiaries
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim Post): Timing and the $130 million
Waikato Times: Editorial - Labour response muted
James Henderson (The Standard): Nats try to confuse between churn & real job growth
James Henderson (The Standard): Does working pay?
Steven Cowan (Against the current): The Poor are different
Duncan Garner (TV3): In defence of Bennett’s welfare shakeup
Kate Chapman (Stuff): MFAT to find extra $20m of savings
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Exodus threat over proposed MFAT cuts
Bruce Middleton (Dom Post): Cutbacks ill-advised - ex-diplomat
Duncan Garner (TV3): $1.3m upgrade to Niue MFAT residence stopped
Amelia Romanos (Herald): More criticism over MFAT spending
Brian Fallow (Herald): Govt denies foreign threat to strategic energy assets
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Peters: Asset sales would rob Kiwis
Newswire: MPs grill Treasury over asset sales
David Cunliffe (Red Alert): Assets and Elbows
Allegations of cronyism
Trevor Mallard (Red Alert): Mapp to Law Commission – Cronyism
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): On Mr Mapp's appointment
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): More nastiness from Labour
No Right Turn: Daily cronyism
Claire Trevett (Herald): McCully, jobs go missing somewhere out west
Jane Clifton (Dom Post): Finger-pointing MPs jab themselves in the eye
Hazel Phillips (Idealog): Nikki Kaye on doorknocking, copping flak and fostering innovation
Claire Trevett (Herald): 'No big surprises' in Budget: English
Tim Hunter (Stuff): Lessons from Lombard
David Cunliffe (Red Alert): Steven Joyce Can’t Count
Colin James (Management Magazine): When low interest rates might not be best [Not currently online]
Andrea Fox (Stuff): Chinese offer feedback on Crafar bid
No Right Turn: Craig Foss lied to Parliament
The Law Commission (Public Address): Who guards the guardians?
Tim Hunter (Stuff): Ironbridge takes reins at MediaWorks
Isaac Davison (Herald): Auckland Council's Occupy bill lists spy firm payout
Robert McCambridge (NBR): 'Spy firm' included on Auckland City Council's Occupy security bill
Gordon Campbell (Welingtonian): Housing decision a backward step [Not currently online]
Sam Sachdeva (Press): Shearer supports red-zone nature reserve
Maryanne Twentyman (Stuff): $6m in pay for DHB's top 20 staff
Amelia Romanos (APNZ): Proposed tough graffiti laws could be extended
Tom Peters (WSWS): New Zealand: Pike River Coal ignored mine safety warnings
Mai Chen (Herald): Sex offender case shows law's limits
Ian Cassels (Dom Post): City must thrive for region to gain benefit