Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lies Management Tell

1. The reason there are different wage rates in different areas reflects different costs (either of the company or of the workers).

This is an interesting reading of history. In 2003 Progressive shut down the Auckland and Christchurch distribution centres and made the workers redundant. They then reopened the distribution centres someone else and rehired some of the same workers back on lower wages. They weren't able to do this in Palmerston North, because they couldn't get a new site. The only reason that Progressive pay less in Palmerston North and Christchurch is because they can - and the workers are trying to change that.

2. The Union has demanded a 30% pay increase

Now I have no objection to workers getting 30% - in fact I fully support any claim in double digits. But the union's claim isn't for 30%. It is for a single agreement and an 8% pay increase. For a small numbers of workers that might mean a 30% pay increase, but the vast majority of workers would get less. The company wants people to think the workers claim is unreasonable - but the union is willing to talk - it's the company that walked out of bargaining

EDITED: I had a date wrong in my original post

27 comments:

  1. I'm always amazed when I listen to multimillionaires complain that I'm overpaid.

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  2. Out of interest what was the redundancy payout received by those made redundant then rehired?

    I'm sure they will all be willing to repay that as a condition of being placed back on the same terms?

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  3. Sure - after all, making them redundant when they clearly weren't and then rehiring them on lower pay was such a goodwill gesture by management, it surely deserves some reciprocation...

    What are you smoking? I'd like some.

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  4. What I find really interesting about this dispute is that the company is basically saying that having a national agreement is never going to be possible.

    They're "happy" to negotiate a fair pay offer, but not for the workers as a whole group. Of course they are being disingenuous as they know that by dividing them into three the company greatly weakens the strength of those workers to negotiate a fair pay offer...

    I even heard the company spokesperson refer to them as a NZ company today on Nat Rad when they're bloody Australian!

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  5. span - it also increases the negotiating power of the more effective of the three bargaining groups.

    The issue with the collective bargaining theory of increasing negotiating power is that it ignores the fact that it doesn't increase everyones bargaining power.

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  6. psycho milt - I wasn't defending the initial practice, just pointing out that the Union is also being somewhat disingenuious in its calls of parity.

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  7. I'm also sure that the Palmerston North workers are going to be *real* happy if the Union gets its demands of a national contract because then they are likely to be taken *back* towards the other two centres.

    I'm sure the Union has fully briefed those members of the risks they are taking in their affirmations they want the same conditions as Auckland and Christchurch?

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  8. IIQ you are quite wrong about the Palmerston North workers being likely to move back towards the other two centres.

    Unions are generally (I say generally because I'm aware of one union that isn't, but there are tonnes who are) careful to protect those who have better terms and conditions either by trying to get parity for those who don't (which I understand is one of the key claims here) or to at the least grandparent those with the better deal so they don't lose out.

    You seem to be forgetting that unions are democratic organisations (most of the time) and that the workers themselves are the ones who vote on whether or not to accept a final pay deal.

    Also sometimes the ratification votes are structured in such a way that you would need a majority vote in favour in all the different work areas covered by the agreement. I'm not sure if that is the case here, but if it is then the PN workers would be able to vote it down even if the others voted in favour.

    Your general lack of knowledge about unions doesn't seem to get in the way of your frequent inaccurate comments. Oh well, nevermind.

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  9. iiq374 - Span has explained some facts about the way that unions work that you clearly don't understand.

    I'll just say I'm fairly sure that the NDU would not sign up to a collective agreement that took the Palmerston North workers backwards.

    I will also point out that anyone who has been working at $1 an hour less for over a decade, would clearly have lost more money in lower wages than they ever got in redundancy.

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  10. I will also point out that anyone who has been working at $1 an hour less for over a decade, would clearly have lost more money in lower wages than they ever got in redundancy.

    Correct - but this has hardly been a decade since the redundancies now has it?

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  11. span -
    sometimes the ratification votes are structured in such a way that you would need a majority vote in favour in all the different work areas covered by the agreement

    Also correct - so with that you can either get the situation like with Air New Zealand where one selfish group gets everyone fired.

    Or without area based ratification you get the situation where the selfish majority vote through the contract that benefits them.

    Just like the old Affco Union that voted through strike pay for only the full time members even though students and part timers had to pay full dues.

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  12. Your general lack of knowledge about unions doesn't seem to get in the way of your frequent inaccurate comments. Oh well, nevermind.

    Unfortunatly it is my specific knowledge of unions that leads to my frequent cynical comments.

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  13. Can't unions arange alternative temporary employment - that in itself should massively increase their ability to hold out on a strike. I think many people would suppoort such a programme.

    > the NDU would not sign up to a collective agreement that took the Palmerston North workers backwards.

    still I would say they would loose. no matter how careful you are they will find it harder to get pay rises if those pay rises must also be reflected everywhere.

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  14. "but this has hardly been a decade since the redundancies now has it?"
    Yes it has. The redundancies were "in the 1990s", which means at the very least more than half a decade and possibly more than one and a half decades. The original point stands whatever the specific year was.

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  15. Commie Mutant Traitor - thanks for pointing that back out to me, it was in Maia's original post :-{

    I had been confused by the Unions spin that this was something to do with the Australian ownership by Foodlands. Which of course only happened in the last couple of years.

    If it is the last 10 years then that creates an entirely different point and argument. Any worker in any industry that cannot find better wages / conditions at another job in 10 years is being paid the market rate or better.

    At which point this *really* isn't about progressive at all but the disagreement with how the market prices labour. (Which I realise many posters here *do* have an issue with, but don't confuse it with the specific Progressive Enterprises case).

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  16. iiq374, the problem is between the disconnect between

    a. the 'price of labour' as determined by supply and demand (which will always give it to the workers in the shorts when they are working in an industry which can be done by the bulk of the workforce)

    b. what is a fair wage to live on

    Now, the problem as I see it is when the management only focus on (a), thinking of staff salaries as a win-lose scenario, where the more they pay their staff the more they lose in profits.

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  17. mark - Oddly enough I would see that discussion as off-topic.

    Unless we want to agree to changing the topic to being about the setting of general wage rates in the economy and really nothing to do with the specific case Progressive or the Union's actions at all?

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  18. I guess I was rising to the bait of your off topic comment:
    "At which point this *really* isn't about progressive at all but the disagreement with how the market prices labour. (Which I realise many posters here *do* have an issue with, but don't confuse it with the specific Progressive Enterprises case)."

    The problem is that money is two different things. It's a game piece that people use to play with (to produce more money) and it's something that people need to purchase the necessaries of life with.

    From the perspective of Progressives, the money is a game and their goal is to make more money, and the employees are after the money so they can live.

    I think that Progressives wants there to be a large pool of 'disposable' labour out there that will accept the conditions proposed by the company. They can cheaply employ 'hungry' employees and the result is lower costs and higher margins.

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  19. mark - Sorry with my quoted comment I was trying to point out that I thought that the line of discussion was offtopic, so was steering away from debating that line further in my comment.

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  20. Hey how'd you get that super flash button about the campaign? I wants one!!

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  21. This is the code Span (replaced with triangular brackets).

    [a href="http://www.shelfrespect.org/2/donations"][img src="http://shelfrespect.org/2/files/barometer.gif"/][/a]

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  22. F me 2003 is more than a decade ago??? I must be rip van winkle. thats only 3 years ago.

    For Progressive to shut down an RDC and move it to a more efficient location is a perfectly reasonable thing. To offer/compel redundancy for those unable/not fit to make the transfer is also a perfect right of a holder of capital.

    Even Russell Brown accepts there is an increased cost of living in Auckland. Why shouldn't the company be able to offer different rates across the country depending on local supply & demand.

    Your history does absolutely nothing to rebut reality.

    Employees withdrew their labour. officially the strike was 2 days. they were locked out after 3. Their problem.

    Your comments that the unions will ensure that nobody loses out show this situation for the grubby standover it is. The company has not refused to bargain. It has simply said it is not going to negotiate a national deal. if the union backed down on that demand negotitations could recommence.

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  23. sagenz, you appear to suffer from some comprehension regarding the 'reality' of the details here.

    Progressives shut down it's sites to 'move to a more efficient location', but the purpose was actually just to make all of the collectively employed workers redundant, and start the new sites.

    For some reason, the law doesn't let them just fire all their workers and hire new ones, so shutting down their distribution centers was a necessary bit of hoopla that let them circumvent the 'spirit' of the law to achieve the same effect. This is just speculation by me of course, but it seems very probable, and in line with the companies current negotiating stance.

    Secondarily, you are totally wrong as to the reason for the pay disparity between sites.

    The auckland workers (those with the higher cost of living) are being paid *less* than the workers in Palmerston North. The cause of the pay disparity between regions is simply because it was infeasible for them to shut down the PN site, so the workers there were still on a collective agreement.

    Surprise surprise, the people on a collective agreement have much better pay and conditions!

    The reason that the poorer sites were paid less was not because they lived in a 'cheaper' area, but because the company was in a much stronger bargaining position than the workers on individual contracts were in and slowy eroded their employment conditions relative to the collective site.

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  24. mark - you too are suffering from misrepresentation of the details:
    so the workers there were still on the old collective agreement.

    The workers at Auckland and Christchurch are still on collective agreements (although not nationwide).

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  25. Getting a collective contract is more to give larger powers to the NDU than to actually benefit workers. Laila Harre and her comrades crave the power to be able to tell a multinational what to do and this is her best chance so far to do it.

    They should take todays 4% offer and let the workers go back to work.

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  26. What do you think the NDU actually is Heine? It is the union that covers these workers - it IS these workers. If having a national collective advantages anyone here it advantages these workers. Remembering of course, as I've already explained to you elsewhere, that these workers have a direct, democratic, say in what to claim in the first place, and what response they make to offers from the company.

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  27. Span - these workers have a direct, democratic, say in what to claim in the first place, and what response they make to offers from the company.

    In exactly the same way as the German people had a direct democratic say in the claims and responses of Germany from 1930-1945?

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