Red Alert

Archive for the ‘CTU’ Category

Total Employment Change from 2008 Reveals Imminent Crisis

Posted by on February 21st, 2012

Increase in unemployment under National

Increase in unemployment under National

The Household Labour Force Survey Survey report of the December 2011 Quarter released last week revealed that our unemployment rate slipped slightly to 6.3% from 6.6%. While a rate of 6.3% in itself doesn’t necessarily mean we have reached crisis levels, the focus on the overall unemployment rate does conceal detail about our employment situation that if brought to the surface will shine light on what I believe is an immiment crisis looming in our economic horizon.

Since JohnKey’s National took office in November 2008, 53,000 New Zealanders have joined the unemployment ranks. That’s a 54% increase in the number of people unemployed to a total of 150,000. For these people, National’s promise of a ‘brighter future’ has utterly failed to materialise, especially if you have a mortgage and teenage children you are supporting through school.

While the impact of the recession cannot be ignored, the number of people unemployed has actually increased since the recession officially ended in mid-2009. The official unemployment figures only tell part of the story. Many more people are without work but are not counted as being unemployed. Many are described by the Salvation Army as being “discouraged unemployed”. They would like to work and would accept a job offer if given, but they would not be deemed as actively seeking work because for instance looking for work through a newspaper does not meet the threshold of “actively seeking work”. The number of Kiwis jobless has increased by almost 100,000 under National’s watch to now 261,300 people as of December 2011. In the meantime 59,964 people are receiving the Unemployment Benefit as at December 2011 a fall of 7% from 67,084 as of the December 2010.
So is this it? Is this the brighter future promised to all New Zealanders?

Number of people jobless


What it takes

Posted by on February 16th, 2012

It’s great to see the formation of a new group of businesses and the CTU working together to find resolution to the PoAL issues.

The group, which includes Mainfreight Group Managing Director Don Braid, Heart of the City, CEO Alex Swney, CTU President Helen Kelly and Michael Lorimer, Director Grant Samuel & Associates, say they believe there is  a demand from a range of groups in Auckland for a

“new approach that balances the need for the Port to make a return and the Port’s role as a service to business, in Auckland, employer of Aucklanders and guardian of the beautiful Auckland space it occupies”.

They have called a meeting in early March to develop a Charter for the Port that calls on the Council to take a broader view of the Port’s future and a vision of a triple bottom line approach to the Port , which includes :

  1. A  Port that meets the needs of both those onshore (the importers and exporters of New Zealand) and offshore (the shipping companies) now and in the future;
  2. A  Port that shares its land with the public, protects its environment and sees itself as part of the development of Auckland including encouraging use of the waterfront and harbour for recreation; and
  3. A  Port that adopts a modern approach to employment relations which maintains an efficient and productive Port including retaining decent jobs and is not part of a “race to the bottom” in employment practice.”

Yes to all that.

Michael Lorimer says :

“The current approach means the Port Board is being forced to cut costs and capital expenditure. This impacts on us all. Now is the time to put up a new vision for the Port that recognises its primary role as a service to this City and New Zealand and its return to the Council must be based on a longer term understanding of its unique role in the City.

The need to increase earnings is being used to justify the current plans to reduce working conditions on the Port including contracting out labour. We support decent work conditions and oppose casualisation in the manner being proposed by the Port. Not only is it unnecessary but it could cause major disruption to its customers and contribute to increasing inequality.”

I’m heartened to hear this from major Auckland businesses and the CTU. We’ve got some smart people working together here who understand that the key to a productive Auckland port isn’t as simple as selling off jobs to the lowest bidder.

I congratulate them all.


From social partners to bit players

Posted by on February 3rd, 2012

The emphasis of the Department of Labour Briefing to Incoming Ministers has significantly changed in 2011.

In the 2008 Briefing,  the Social Partners (Business NZ and Council of Trade Unions) were referred to frequently. Not now.

The notion of social partnership and tripartism is one that our government initially signed up to.  The Jobs Summit, early in John Key’s new government was an example.  Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Labour described this in her speech to the International Labour Organisation in 2009, saying  :

….”We are setting out a credible road to economic recovery, so we can emerge stronger from the recession than we went into it. ….. In this, we’ve taken an inclusive, tripartite approach, recognising that the problems arising from the current situation affect all New Zealanders. In late February, our Prime Minister, the Honourable John Key, hosted a national Jobs Summit which saw unions, business and Government united by a common desire to do as much as possible to keep New Zealanders in work during this recession….”

The 2008 BIM described the purpose of the portfolio as  :

  • productive, rewarding, and safe employment relationships, including bargaining, mediation and dispute resolution
  • setting, communicating, promoting, inspecting, and (where necessary) enforcing minimum standards of health and safety, and employment conditions
  • raising the value and quality of work, by promoting good practice and positive change in workplace cultures and practices
  • cooperation and interaction with other interested parties – including industries, sectors, and regions – in collaboration with social partners (Business New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions)
  • ensuring New Zealand both benefits from, and contributes to, international labour standards and fora.

But the slimmed down description of the role of the Labour portfolio in the 2011 BIM says the focus of the Minister and the Department is ensuring :

  • the labour market regulatory system is effective
  • employers and employees understand their rights and comply with their obligations
  • workplaces follow effective and sustainable employment relations and health and safety practices
  • New Zealand benefits from, and contributes to, international labour standards and forums.

Businesses are mentioned 43 times. Unions are mentioned once. Social partnership is over, it seems.

And significantly, there’s no mention of low pay, of addressing the ever-growing wage gap with Australia and the issues for self-employed and vulnerable contractors. All are workers trying to make a living and have the right to expect more from their government.

I’m looking forward to hearing Kate Wilkinson’s explanation on her annual trip to Geneva this year.


Poor people don’t need much to live on?

Posted by on November 5th, 2011

CTU’s Vote Fairness video :