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Paul Holmes, Port workers, and pay questions

20 March 2012 2 comments

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A few days ago,  in a column in the NZ Herald, broadcaster Paul Holmes passed judgement on the dispute between Port workers and their bosses, Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL). Holmes found in favour of the bosses, stating,

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Also for Q+A I had cause to really brief up on Auckland’s waterfront dispute and two of the leading protagonists came in on the programme last Sunday morning, the union president, Garry Parsloe, and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson.

Both were engaging men. And isn’t that an interesting thing? I hardly ever meet anyone I don’t like. Everyone wants the best for their people. Trouble is that people’s views of what’s best differ so widely. Causes trouble.

Anyway, I formed the view that the ports company have not been ungenerous in their offers to the union. In fact, even Auckland Mayor Len Brown himself agreed that the company’s first offer made early last September should have been accepted.

The offer would have rolled over the collective agreement and given the workers a 2.5 per cent pay increase each year for three years. There were several offers but early on the company decided it could no longer tolerate its workers getting paid for sitting around doing nothing.

I do not believe the union when it says that it’s a lie that the workers earn in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work. Ports of Auckland had Ernst and Young audit the figures. And that’s something you notice about the ports’ conduct throughout the dispute. They’ve done things very thoroughly.

The union’s argument that its people ceasing to be permanent staff would mean that their families couldn’t plan things was obliterated by the company’s offer to roster the men for 160 hours a month, and the roster delivered a month ahead. For the life of me, I can’t see what’s wrong with that.

I think the union was dyed in the wool. I think they didn’t read the signs. Before they knew it, it was all over. Nearly 300 men were made redundant, just like that. End of story. I think there were some hardliners who’ve buggered things up for everyone. Hysteria is never a good thing.

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I find Holmes’ jaundiced views  on this issue highly ironic.

Aside from the fact that he has uncritically swallowed the POAL claim that Port worker’s are paid ” in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work ” based on an Ernst & Young “audit” (of which we have been given only a summary, and not the full report on how that figure was calculated) – Holmes should have good cause to feel greater empathy for the much-maligned striking workers.

From February 2001,

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Evening Post - 2 February 2001

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Evening Post - 12 February 2001

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Paul Holmes had every right to feel aggrieved. The storm of angry criticism  over his salary amounted to little more than a moral panic from ‘armchair knitters’ – members of the public who had little better to do than chide a public figure for a perceived ‘sin’.  Most of the criticism was based on the misconception that Paul Holmes’s salary was paid out of taxpayers’ money.

He was actually paid out of advertising revenue and sponsorship  from various businesses that wanted their corporate name, products, and services associated with the highly rating ‘Holmes‘ programme at the time.

I recall writing several letters-to-editor on this issue. Even celebrities, I felt, deserved a measure of common sense and public criticism of Paul Holmes for being paid $770,000-$780,000 was unfair, unwarranted, counter to my understanding of the Kiwi ethos of giving people a fair go.

Back to the Future…

So for Paul Holmes to join in with the POAL to put the boot in to port workers is disappointing. Of all people, he should be painfully aware of what it’s like to be judged harshly, in a very public way, by people who don’t have the facts at hand.

There is an old saying which I try to live by (despite my own personal  mistakes in my life);  “There, but for the grace of god, go I“.

Paul seems to have forgotten that simple truism.

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The Lie Clock…

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A man died and went to heaven.  As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

He asked, “What are all those clocks?”

St. Peter answered, “Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move.”

“Oh,” said the man, “whose clock is that?”

“That’s Mother Teresa’s. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie.”

“Incredible,” said the man. “And whose clock is that one?” St. Peter responded, “That’s Abraham Lincoln’s clock.

The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life.”

“Where’s John Keys clock?” asked the man.

” John’s clock is in Jesus’ office. He’s using it as a ceiling fan.”

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Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags: ,

History Lesson – Toru – Jobs

20 March 2012 4 comments

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Another look back into our recent history. Just to remind ourselves, that what is past, is prologue…

Firstly, too many of our simple-minded fellow New Zealanders still cling to the bigotted fantasy that those on welfare benefits are there “by choice”.  Currently, our unemployment stands at 150,000 – or 6.3% of the workforce.

But was it always so…?

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6 June 2002

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14 September 2002

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New Zealand’s growth rate in the early to mid 2000s was between 4% and 6%, and the skilled labour shortage reflected an economy that was doing well,

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Tony Alexander, the BNZ’s chief economist, was reported to have said that “businesses are also going to have to consider helping with basic education. They are going to have to take on less  skilled people and train them up in reading, writing, and arithmetic“,

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24 October 2002

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Unemployment dropped to a record low of  3.8%  by December 2007. Interestingly, as the recession impacted on our economy, unemployment soared. It is no secret that unemployment and recessionary periods are closely intertwined,

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28 October 2002

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Our GDP (per capita, adjusted by purchasing power parity) rose steadily in the 2000s, levelling of post-2008,  as the global banking crisis hit New Zealand, creating into a full-blown recession,

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The result of leaving everything up to the free market – a skills shortage. It became readily apparent that businesses demanded well-educated, trained, experienced workers – but were not prepared to pay for that upskilling. That was the role of the State. So much for the State staying out of  the Market – when the Market could not/would not, invest in skills training as required,

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20 November 2002

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As the economy boomed, the government post surplus after surplus. (So much for the mischief-making  from certain National/ACT agitprops who scurrilously spread the lie that the previous Labour Government mis-managed the economy.) The actual data is  on record for all to see,

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Which, in turn, allowed Labour’s finance minister, Michael Cullen to pay down our sovereign debt,

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As always, the building industry was affected. Which is in marked contrast to builders who, in the last couple of years were finding work hard to come by. But in 2002, it was a completely different world,

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25 November 2002

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Even though the economy was growing and unemployment was dropping, it was evident that people’s skills (or lack of) did not match the demands of employers for their businesses. This failure of the Market to upskill workers, to meet the needs of business, is  yet more clear evidence that without State assistance and intervention, economic growth is stifled.

If the self-regulating “Invisible Hand” of the Marketplace acted as per theory, then unskilled unemployed should be upskilled by businesses as required.  This did not happen,

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2 December 2002

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The point of this history lesson is that a poorly performing economy will not maximise the use of available human labour. Or to put it more plainly, if the economy is in recession – expect high unemployment.

That is fairly simple to understand.

Those politicians, and their groupies, who talk about a “welfare lifestyle” or “welfare dependancy” are being deliberately disingenuous. These  politicians are well-educated, sophisticated men and women who have a clear understanding of economic forces and their consequences.

Politicians understand that very few people are on welfare as a “lifestyle”. And “dependancy” should actually mean being dependant on state assistance – or the alternative being to starve. Those who are unemployed are as “welfare dependent” as an astronaut in space is “spacesuit dependent”.

In truth, when the likes of John Key, Paula Bennett, et al, talk of  “welfare lifestyle” and/or “welfare dependancy” – they are using ‘code’ to paint welfare recipients as being the architects of their misfortune.

Because, dear fellow New Zealanders, as we all know, the unemployed here in New Zealand were sitting in the Boardrooms of  Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of Scotland, General Motors, Lehmann Bros, etc, etc, etc, and were responsible for the chaos and misery of the 2008 Recession.

When a politician attempts to paint a welfare beneficiary as “welfare lifestyle” and/or  “welfare dependancy” – they are shifting responsibility from themselves – the people with power – onto welfare reciepients – the most powerless in society- for the pitiful state of the economy here in New Zealand, and  throughout the world.

I wonder if welfare beneficiaries know that they crippled the revered demi-god of Western Capitalism, and brought Wall St and City of London, to it’s knees?

Damn crafty, these benes, eh?

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