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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why John Armstrong is wrong


Veteran activists need new tactics
The left-wing activists who stormed the Sky City Hotel last Sunday in an inevitably futile attempt to force their way into the National Party conference should take a good hard look at themselves.

I like John Armstrong, I think he is a very astute political columnist, but I think he's underestimated the 90 day right to sack and that he has misread the economic climate...

Bradford, McCarten and Minto seemed to have set their watches to 1910, not 2010. Any moment you might have expected horses ridden by strike-breaking armed "specials" to come around the corner. Or at least they would in their imaginations.

...that's right John, it isn't 1910, it's 1932 during the crises of capitalism. Come October, the GST rise is going to make a lot of middle class people feel for the first time in their lives like they are not middle class, while those on the bottom will have the John Key vacant aspiration squeezed out of them when his words that they won't be worse off from the changes turn out to be hollow. The anger the Unions are identifying early will become much more heated as the tone changes after the GST rise.

To debase and devalue the protest action misses the reality of the coming economic situation and the instability and anger that economic situation is going to cause while also extinguishing the medicated optimism that has made smile and wave John Key immune to cynicism and low polling.

Phil Goff has a harvest coming to him sown by a Government focused on the interests of the top 2%, not the interests of NZ. That harvest will be angry, diminishing that anger as Armstrong does is a strategy National are blindly embarking upon as well.

26 Comments:

At 25/7/10 5:02 p.m., Anonymous sdm said...

So your point is that businesses should be forced to keep shit staff at a time when being in business will be incredibly difficult. Que?

 
At 25/7/10 8:52 p.m., Anonymous rhiannon said...

sdm:
Being an employee is incredibly difficult too.
‎"The whiney bosses who claim they should have the right to sack any employee without any consequences are people who shouldn't be employing other human beings in the first place." -Matt McCarten
The majority of employees and employers are not shit. It doesn't take long to fire someone fairly who is not doing the job they've been employed for. The law provides minimum standards, why should every new worker be threatened by the worst detriment, because there might be the odd bad apple who is shit.
Everyone keeps talking about young or unemployed 'new employees' but actually the majority of job seekers are people who seek to switch jobs, so in choosing a position with an employer they are taking a risk too.
Even murderers are entitled to adequate process. The workplace is a place of work, where work is done by workers, the boss might have the key to the building but the workers must have rights there.

 
At 25/7/10 9:49 p.m., Anonymous sdm said...

It does take a long time to fire someone under the current law. I was advised I could not legally dismiss someone who turned up pissed for a third time under the influence. He was 3 weeks into his employment. How is that fair?

Maybe employers should be given the right to sue employees for the loss they cause. So if an employee is shit, abuses a good customer costing say $100k, the employer should be entitled to recover that from the employee. Fair? I think so.

 
At 26/7/10 7:51 a.m., Anonymous rhiannon said...

Being drunk at work is serious misconduct. You ought to get better advice.
There are clear processes for discipline and/or immediate dismissal. You can get advice from the EMA, Employment Relations Service (even their website), your own lawyer, there is plenty on the internet, hell, call a union office (NDU or CTU in the first instance) and tell them you seek advice about doing the 'good employer' thing.
Employing others requires you to be fair and reasonable, which in most cases means you need to be direct and open when stuff isn't working. Have regular conversations about their progress (and how they think they are doing as well, not just negative feedback from the boss). When there is something you want to address try: 'this is what is happening, this is what needs to happen, what do you need from me to get this to happen? agree on action and when will we discuss this again to ensure all is going to plan' If the employee is involved in the discussion, notes are made and signed by both parties it can be shown that you have made fair and reasonable attempts.
However, in the case of your drunk employee you of course have the option fire them, especially if you have warned them and sent them home previously.

 
At 26/7/10 10:04 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

I know of several large firms who have underperforming staff and have reverted to artifical job restructuring in an attempt to get rid of them via redundancy. These are large firms who supposedly have the resources to employ the people with the expertise to deal with this issue but for some reason they still have problems with problem empolyees.

 
At 26/7/10 3:32 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

Gosman;

Am I wrong in assuming that these firms earn millions of dollars a year and the under performing workers are on a shitty wage?
If not, then explain yourself and give examples.
If this is your reasoning for decreasing worker rights and increasing profits for large companies, then this is laughable.

"These are large firms who supposedly have the resources to employ the people with the expertise to deal with this issue but for some reason they still have problems with problem employees."

Decreasing relative wages and workers rights will not create productive workers, it leaves workers with nothing to lose and another McJob just around the corner - thats the cause of your problem, not your answer.

SDM;

Rhiannon is right, get some advice. If you have a worker turn up 3 times pissed and you haven't fired them, you are just as incompetent as the drunk.

 
At 26/7/10 10:41 p.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

Bank workers, especially in the head office roles I am talking about, aren't generally known for being paid particularly poorly.

If governments had the ability to work out how to make workers productive places like the Soviet Union should have been one of the most productive nations on the planet.

 
At 27/7/10 5:38 a.m., Blogger Bomber said...

The Soviet Union??? You are using the soviet empire to back up your points? You are aware the soviet empire finished some time ago right Gosman? Since then your neo-liberal milton friedman free market bullshit has been the dominant economic philosophy, but then again you claim the 2008 collapse was the fault of Keynes managed capitalism. I remember you claiming my use of the great recession as a term suggested i had no idea of what I was talking about, you are very quiet on those claims now ain't you gosman?

For someone who works in a bank, you don't seem to know much about the capitalism you champion.

 
At 27/7/10 9:23 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

How would you know what I think the 2008 collapse was the result of Mr Bradbury? You deleted most of the posts I made on the subject.

 
At 27/7/10 11:53 a.m., Anonymous fatty said...

Gosman,

"Bank workers, especially in the head office roles I am talking about, aren't generally known for being paid particularly poorly."

...so you are complaining about the overpaid fat-cats in management who are sucking up the resources and add nothing to the worth of a company....leaving little money for those doing the real work?
Most companies are over-managed, which causes the majority of workers to have to put up with poor employment conditions. There are very few in management who are productive.
You seem to be pointing out the problems with capitalism and its resulting inequalities, rather than the effect of employment contracts on workers behavior.

I fail to see your point....

 
At 27/7/10 1:47 p.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

@ fatty

LOL!!!

Do you live in the 19th Century per chance?

You can't live in the 21st century and you don't seem to actually understand how modern service based industries are set up.

What is your definition of management by the way? Is it someone who is paid above the average salary to work on a help desk even though they don't actually manage anybody except the calls they keep getting?

 
At 27/7/10 6:31 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

Gosman;

No I'm in the 21st Century, unfortunately the same one as you...

My definition of management includes "...head office roles" as you stated in a previous post (10.41pm).

But now you've moved the goal posts and are referring to people working on a help desk?

...still laughing?

 
At 27/7/10 10:20 p.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

Ummmmm... where do you think IT help desk roles are based fatty?

It is plain you have never worked in a corporate environment.

I have worked in IT for a number of different organisations and are generally based in what is regarded as the "Head office".

Regardless of you antiquated views on how businesses are set up in the 21st Century this is not a place populated by Senior managers all plotting about how to screw over the workers.

 
At 27/7/10 11:32 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

Gosman:

Your post said:
"Bank workers, especially in the head office roles I am talking about..."

That sentence is referring to a 'role' meaning an assigned job, not a location...what you probably thought you said was "the head office" -that would be referring to a location.

Since you said head office roles, I naturally assumed you were also not referring to the toilet cleaners that also work there......and the people that sell you discount muffins in the cafe.....and the minimum wage temp office workers, filing the papers?

So forgive me for reading your posts the wrong way, it seems to be my fault and I'm sorry, lets get back to the discussion...

You were talking about how large rich companies are at the mercy of poorly paid workers that don't care....or the Soviet Union....or the 19th and 21st century....shit, what were you on about?

 
At 28/7/10 9:24 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

So you were made yo look like an idiot and you blame me for that? You have got to love the continual shifting the blame culture of people on the left!

LOL!

Perhaps if you have trouble understanding common business terminology next time you should ask someone who has actually worked in a corportate environment, as it plain that you haven't.

I could bother to try and explain my points but given your comprehension problems to date I think it would be better left to someone who is better able to communicate straighforwarfd ideas to those of a limited intellect.

 
At 28/7/10 10:14 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

Just because I felt sorry for someone who is so ignorant of the basics of corporate structure and terminology here is a link to Marks and spencer site which should give you an idea of what "Head office" means to people who have a real job in the private sector.

http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/mscareers/opportunities/head_office_roles

 
At 28/7/10 1:41 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

Congratulations Gosman...you found a British website to back your argument...here's one from New Zealand to prove I was also right. Your corporate terminology is not used outside your office, so you best learn how people perceive how you speak.

https://dolcareers.nga.net.nz/cp/index.cfm?event=jobs.checkJobDetailsNewApplication&returnToEvent=jobs.listJobs&jobid=447b21a4-880e-4787-8964-9da600dc3af2&audienceTypecode=EXT&JobListID=6181E5C3-6D0A-4B45-BD2A-9BC90126B12B&jobsListKey=ae5a715d-c77d-469c-94a5-bc88a33b5799&persistVariables=JobListID,jobsListKey

They put corporate/head office roles under the same umbrella.

Please stop referring to your knowledge of corporate terminology, this is not 1985, corporate jobs are the new trades, they are a dime a dozen.
IT workers are seen as nothing more than socially retarded geeks who get a hard on over a hard drive....its nothing to be proud about and I have no intention of learning about your irrelevant terminology.

I don't go round in public (or on here) using the terminology/theories etc of my workplace/study and assume it is the norm....that would be arrogant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWU4APRTo-8&feature=PlayList&p=50D8BE4B9002947A&playnext=1&index=7

 
At 28/7/10 1:48 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

"I could bother to try and explain my points but given your comprehension problems to date I think it would be better left to someone who is better able to communicate straighforwarfd ideas to those of a limited intellect."

I've easily understood everything you've had to say, apart from when you've used "corporate terminology" (within that field I proudly have a limited intellect), ....surely we can move on? So do you want to continue this discussion or not?

 
At 28/7/10 3:49 p.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

Congratulations on acknowledging the fact that "Head office" is not just restricted to senior managers who you believe sit around all day plotting ways to screw over the poor benighted and down trodden workers.

The point I was making is that there are a large number of people employed by firms earning a good income, (certainly well above the average salary), and some of these people cause problems for firms in terms of managing their performance due to the current rigidity of the NZ Labour market. Many of these people are often in the wrong role for their skill set but due to a variety of reasons are unwilling to change their behaviour or move on voluntarily. I am aware of a number of examples of where firms have had to spend a lot of time and money artificially restructuring their work to manage these people out.

People on the right of the political spectrum tend not to regard paid work as an automatic right of everybody. You are paid to do a particular task and if the firm that employs you no longer wants you for that task then the employer shouldn't be under any moral obligation to keep you on.

Sure there will be the potential for unscrupolous employers to exploit any loosening of the law in this area. Equally I could argue the opposite though. Any tightening of employment laws allows greater scope for employees not performing to continue to underperform as the Employer can't get rid of them easily.

Once you can acknowledge this fact then this discussion becomes less black and white. You can argue your case by stating that you feel the benefits of the protection out weigh the negatives. The National party though is a pro free market and business party and they are entitled to put forward policies which promote this agenda.

If you don't like the right wing policy then by all means vote for another party at the next election but to try and argue that there are no positives to this policy is just showing an ignorance of the reality of how workplaces run.

 
At 28/7/10 4:44 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

Firstly I am aware that there are some bad employees, as there are employers, but I consider this reason to take away all workers rights to pull out a few bad apples. I still believe that if you are a good employer, the employees will work hard for you as they have something to lose. Why would you be a lazy worker if you have a good job?...but if you have a bad job (poor employment contract) why would you work hard?

"The National party though is a pro free market and business party and they are entitled to put forward policies which promote this agenda."

I don't consider the National Party to be a pro free market and business party, I consider them a centrist party, especially with JK as the leader, in a similar way to Labor under HC and now with PG. The past few months have seen a real shift to the right within Nat's policies, but only really regarding employment and benefits, which is worrying during an economic recession. NZ has been a victim of third way policies since 1999 (people pleaser's / vote chasers), this continues today....hardly a traditional right party.
Of course there are positives to this policy (there are always positives to any policy), but under NZs current political and economic environment there are way more negatives. We continue down this middle ground and try not to offend anyone, but hurt everyone. Don't be fooled into thinking Nat is right wing, they are in the centre, slightly to the right of Labor.
For NZ, I don't think that neo-liberal policies (or anything close) will do us any good, since we are so far removed from the world, we have little/nothing to offer the world that they can't get from China/Asia etc...we are better to become more socialist and inward looking regarding our economy and employment...we cannot and will not compete on the world stage, nobody cares about us (no matter how much pizza JK hands out in Shanghai).
When was NZ at its best, both economically and with unemployment levels? It was 1950-late 1960s, under Keynesian economics and unemployment was zero. There were reasons for this that are not possible now, e.g. the E.U. has taken Britain as our key market, but I still think its our best avenue.
Neo-liberalism creates a race to the bottom...no doubt you've seen that in your field of work with help desks now coming straight out of Asia, globalisation has brought the fantasy of Neo-lib to an end for countries like NZ.
What reasoning do you have to pursue a neo-liberal agenda that has failed NZ so badly in the 80s/90s, let alone now?
Are you concerned about the brain drain....I'm a student and there's no way I will be working here when I graduate in a couple of years, the loan does not match the wage, the inequality between the bottom and the top is too big, how will making it bigger help?

 
At 28/7/10 5:36 p.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

Protecting your productive base doesn't tend to work over the long run.

The main issue you run into is that generally other countries don't like freeloaders.This means a country won't be able to get access for the productive goods and services that it produces unless it reciprocates and opens up the economy for goods and services from that other country. Sure you can attempt to fly under the radar on this and attempt to get away with it for a while but run the risk that eventually you'll get slapped with trade sanctions.

Another issue is the fact that there is a limited supply of capital available in an economy, as much as Socialists would like to believe otherwise. Protective policies mean you have to spread this limited supply across a larger broad section of your economy and therefore the productive base is far more vulnerable to a liquidity crunch (similar to the recent credit crunch that was a symptom of the recent financial meltdown).

Reducing specialisation in an economy means ecomomies of scale are reduced and therefore costs tend to be greater.

Coupled together a protective economy means less production at a greater cost and therefore people will have either less in terms of goods and services or lower quality.

This isn't just neo-liberal economics. Keynesian economic theory is not anti-free trade.

 
At 28/7/10 8:47 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

....are we still talking employment relations and worker rights....or free trade and economics?

Sorry I think I led you astray with the sentence referring to JK and his pizza hand outs.

The neo-liberal agenda I mentioned was in reference to employment relations and worker rights...as were these two questions;

"What reasoning do you have to pursue a neo-liberal agenda that has failed NZ so badly in the 80s/90s, let alone now?

Are you concerned about the brain drain....I'm a student and there's no way I will be working here when I graduate in a couple of years, the loan does not match the wage, the inequality between the bottom and the top is too big, how will making it bigger help?"

Do you have an opinion on these in terms of employment?

 
At 29/7/10 8:34 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

Where exactly are you going to go to?

Most English speaking countries in the Western world have variations on the 90 day law.

Most other English speaking nations also have a large gap between the top and bottom.

Most other English speaking nations in the Western world have a degree of neo-liberal economic thinking influincing their policy decisions.

It seems to me that unless you lean Korean or Spanish, or perhaps a Scandanavian language, your options are pretty much limited to just a different version of what in place here.

BTW I don't understand how the 90 Day law is meant to impact negatively on wage rates. Some left wing commentatots have event tried to claim that it will tighten up the labour market. A tighter labour market tends to increase wages not decrease them.

 
At 29/7/10 11:17 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

""What reasoning do you have to pursue a neo-liberal agenda that has failed NZ so badly in the 80s/90s, let alone now?"

I would disagree majorly with your assumptions on that question.

Neo-liberal reforms have done New Zealand well since the 1980's. The fact that both major political parties in the country aren't arguing over major policy areas such as free trade and capital controls highlights this.

 
At 29/7/10 10:06 p.m., Anonymous fatty said...

"Where exactly are you going to go to?'

Most likely England or Canada where equality is better and there's a better standard of living for the majority. They also have neo-lib policies but here the cards are stacked firmly against those at the bottom...the 90 day contract is just part of the problem. In NZ tax rates, GST and cost of living are the real killer, the 90 days just effects the poorest of the poor...probably not me.

"BTW I don't understand how the 90 Day law is meant to impact negatively on wage rates"

During a time of rising unemployment there are many workers for few jobs, so workers wages will naturally stagnate at best. Add to that the employer's ability to give short term contracts with little-to-no workers rights (overtime, sick pay etc), real wages will go down. Many workers will face a couple of months work at low pay before becoming unemployed (more loss of earnings), they then have to find another job which will again be nothing more than a short term revolving door. Also union rights and collective bargaining being taken away give less power to the employee, with that happening contracts and wages will be worse than ever.
How in this environment would wages increase?

This is not tightening...its loosening of employment regulations, giving freedom to employers. Tightening would involve a move in the opposite direction.

"The fact that both major political parties in the country aren't arguing over major policy areas such as free trade and capital controls highlights this."

Exactly...see my post at 4.44pm where I note that there is very little difference between Nat and Lab...they are one in the same, Centrist/ third way parties that both support many neo-lib economic policies....whether or not they have been successful is down to perception. I'd say with the number of NZs living in poverty, its a failure...big failure.
How have they done NZ well?....do you mean its done well for those at the top of the pile?

 
At 30/7/10 9:21 a.m., Anonymous Gosman said...

"How have they done NZ well?...."

Ummmmm.... well in 1984 the country was virtually bankrupt, and I don't mean this just figuratively. The country was running out of foreign exchange reserves so fast that, given just a few more months or weeks, we wouldn't be able to afford our external obligations such as paying interest on debt and buying imports. Given that scenario the country would most likely have had to default on it's debts and this would mean supplies of capital drying up.

Instead we managed to turn arounfd the economy and revitalise the previously productive sectors of the economy such as Farming. On top of that we have developed other parts of the economy to increase our overall wealth such as the Tourist industry.

The trouble is you have probably forgotten how bad NZ was in 1984 to realise how far we have come since that dire economic position.

BTW good luck to you if you end up in England. I think you will find your current view of that country compared with New Zealand is a little bit removed from the reality. Ditto Canada I expect.

 

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