Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell on cutting labour costs, and Superstorm Sandy’s divine message

October 31st, 2012

It is now just over 20 years since the Employment Contracts Act was passed, and 12 years since its main provisions were overturned. Unfortunately, the mindset that gave birth to the ECA hasn’t changed very much in the interim, judging by the changes to employment law announced yesterday. All of which confirms that the only thing that centre right governments know how to do is to drive down wages and working conditions, cross their fingers and hope. Well, lets be clear about this : cutting labour costs is not a growth strategy. It wasn’t for the Bolger government, and it won’t be the case for the Key government either. These measures are just a freebie being tossed to employers, at the cost of further social misery and income inequality.

Essentially, the package of measures announced yesterday remove the Part 6A protections currently available to workers hired by private contractors in commercial cleaning, catering and security work on sites such as public hospitals, schools and pre-school centres, rest homes and Parliamentary offices. As things stand, these workers tend to be paid close to the minimum wage – and the experience of the last 20 years has shown them to be particularly vulnerable to cut-throat competitive tendering between the contractors bidding for the work. That’s why the law was originally changed, to protect them.

What the Part 6A provisions did when they were passed in 2004 was to provide some security and continuity for such workers. A new and successful tender would not immediately cost them their jobs, or result in their wages and employment conditions being ratcheted downwards overnight. That protection has now gone. Thanks to yesterday’s changes, small and medium size businesses will now be given a virtual free hand to shed staff and cut wages at will, on winning a new contract – or even merely in the wake of an internal restructuring.

This change was not the only aspect of yesterday’s poisonous little package. The provisions to foster good faith bargaining and collective bargaining have also been eroded. You have to wonder about the priorities here. Given all the social and economic problems facing New Zealand thanks to the precarious state of the economy and the job market, why is the Key government choosing to make the jobs of the people working in rest homes less secure, and even more poorly paid than they are now? What it suggests is that the centre right really doesn’t have a clue about how to grow an economy. All they do is to throw freebies to business in the form of tax breaks and regressive labour laws. Again, we’re seeing more 19th century solutions for 21st century problems from this government.

Sandy Goes Stateside

Interesting to see the sudden saturation coverage of Superstorm Sandy once it began killing Americans and destroying First World infrastructure, as opposed to the relative media disinterest when it was only lives and property in Jamaica and the Bahamas that were being lost, or damaged. Given that the last big storm to touch down on the US mainland had hit during the Republican convention in Florida, some found it tempting to see the hand of the Almighty in the advent of Sandy only days before the presidential election – and sure enough, quite a few fundamentalist websites have been describing the Superstorm in quite apocalyptic terms.

This wacko site, for instance, chose to depict yesterday’s storm and a simultaneous tiny earthquake off the Los Angeles coast as being caused by….the sins of the gays. One commenter noted that the word “Sandy” (and related names such as “Sandra”) have a root derivation that means “Defender of Men.” Clearly then, since the US has surrendered so completely to the gay menace, then Superstorm Sandy should be seen as God’s scourge, and as a celestial defence of manliness and heterosexual virtue. As usual, Stephen Colbert got there first. Some time ago, with reference to Hurricane Isaac, Colbert explained the science of how gays originate hurricanes:

“Hurricanes form from rising moisture created by hot steamy man action aboard a gay Caribbean cruise. When that sin gets high enough it makes the angels cry and those tears fall to earth in the form of massive precipitation because homosexuals are a vital part of the water cycle. That’s why the gay symbol is a rainbow!

Unlike rape and its outcomes which are to be embraced as God’s will, the society that condones gayness is to be destroyed, preferably by a howling tempest. Can it be coincidental that only days before Sandy arrived on the scene, the polling margin enjoyed by President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney in New York State had reportedly widened? Even God, it seems, is now reading Nate Silver.


Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Scoopit
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • NewsVine
  • Print this post Print this post
    1. 7 Responses to “Gordon Campbell on cutting labour costs, and Superstorm Sandy’s divine message”

    2. By Marcus on Oct 31, 2012 | Reply

      Exactly. Cheaper wages wont make us competitive with Chinese manufacturing. We need high value industry for an educated workforce. That hasnt changed…

      Living in denial & union/welfare bashing isnt a growth strategy but atleast National have allowed more people to pursue the minimum wage?

    3. By Simon on Oct 31, 2012 | Reply

      It would be hilarious if the demented god-squad were correct, but if there were an avenging ‘old man God’ out there, one would think the ‘man action’ as so brilliantly described by Colbert would be waaaaay down on his list of ‘deadly sins’ for the United States. More likely the hundreds of thousands dead in the Middle East & myriad other countries around the globe, human sacrifices of the power & profit driven military/industrial/political psychopaths lobby, would be higher on his list of ‘sins’ as a gushing red, bleeding stain against the politicians & people of the States- the USA’s (users) as the Mexicans call them…’human sacrifice’ is supposed to be one of the ultimate sins according to Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham, the founder of JudeoChristianIslamic monotheism, but who cares about details with the bible-bashers- they are beyond reasoning. What’s more likely, since the big guy God has a whole Universe to look after, is it’s the local long-suffering goddess, Gaia, who would be using this tempest just prior to the USA’s election to maybe make a blatent metaphoric point that this storm is a warning, that if USA elects either of the greater or lesser evils on offer from the Republicrats into power again, then a real storm of biblical proportions will be visited upon them – & the rest of us Eathlings! – from the fruits of their & our own hubris…vote Green people, or anyone else, but not the trigger-happy war mongers !! The GFC would be over in a blink or 3 if the trillions of dollars a year spent on futile militarism were diverted to sustainable’ish development & no-one would have reason to be at war with anyone if the fruits of the earth were more fairly distributed…why can not politicians & the people who elect them see this…!?!?…as another 30,000+ children a day die of starvation, etc, let alone the military conflicts…it’s always the children who suffer the most we lament, but what do we REALLY do about it…??

    4. By Andrew on Oct 31, 2012 | Reply

      Re: Sandy… has anyone else noticed that, apart from Jim Salinger in his comments from Stanford, no one in the media (particularly in the US) seems prepared to connect any dots between this storm and climate change (and I don’t mean a ‘direct’ link but in terms of the trend to bigger more destructive storms as change accelerates)? If God is saying anything, she’s telling those doofus’ who legislated against sea level rise (apologies for not properly referencing) that a local ordinance will not provide any barrier against encroachment by a tempestuous and steadily rising ocean. Meanwhile, comments like “once in a lifetime storm” will, I fear, soon be proven woefully inaccurate. I’m still waiting for the Presidential debate (or just one fargin’ question, from someone, to one of the candidates) on climate change… If only it could be linked to, or better yet, threatened, Israel…

    5. By Matt Semple on Oct 31, 2012 | Reply

      “Thanks to such changes ” There is nothing to be thankful for,unless you employ people.”Due to such changes” would be a much better tatement

    6. By David J on Nov 1, 2012 | Reply

      Although entertaining such religous ‘eccentricity” is a sideshow, and indulging it detracts from the very real changes whcih drive such weather systems, changes occuring to our enviroment. Changes which according to a stronger by the day consensus, are due to human activity.
      The loudest voices of protestation for liberty, it was noted by a british mp come from those who drive slaves.
      That was the U.S then and now.
      The nuclear arsenal.
      The most supporting of Dictators, etc.
      The common underlying theme is one of exploitation underpinned by misinformation.
      The exploitation of workers and subjugation of the masses to poverty for the profit of a few.
      While the misinformation and ignorance around the storm and hence stiffling of demands by those most affected, the majority, by those most responsible for ecological and labour exploitation, the few, for genuine change, allows profit to continue unimpeded.
      These things are not detached or seperate, the wages and organisation of workers directly affects their ability to intervene poitically.
      A poor disorganised workforce leads to poor disorganised decisions. They are left unable to contest such religous nonsense just as they are left unable to fight for better conditions.
      If you wish to see a vibrant society, a informed, dynamic and mobile society.
      It begins with a struggle against exploitation.

    7. By Kat on Nov 1, 2012 | Reply

      Interesting how prominent republicans are prepared to praise Obama for being a competent president in the face of and during adversity. Lessons could be learnt here in NZ with our equally competent Labour party leader.

      Simply put, its either populist Key and the darkest future this country could imagine or Shearer the thinking voters choice and the only real possibility of competent govt.

    8. By Mandy Jane on Nov 6, 2012 | Reply

      It has always struck me that Kiwis are no less idiotic politically than Americans.

      Like Americans, Kiwis vote for right-wing parties with policies (revealed for any idiot that bothers to look) that routinely attack their best interests in favour of their economic masters.

      Pike River was no different from Iraq, the GFC, Libor and a host of other neo-liberal disasters. They all had their origin in out-of-control capitalist policies voted blindly by electorates upon themselves.

      Like Sandy (according to the multitudes of whacky American religious conservatives), it is the gods’ retribution for sinning against themselves.

      And they will do it again, and again, and again, because they do not have the brains not to.
      It is mind-boggling that

    Post a Comment