Thursday, March 16, 2006

Right to Work

I haven't been able to find a copy of Pita Sharples speech in support of Wayne Mapp's bill going to the select committee on-line. But I have a copy in my e-mail, and I'd like to talk about it, because it's stupid. Here is an extract:

I come to this House today, desperately aware of the need of people in my constituency, in my electorate, particularly in South Auckland, to be able to walk in the door to a job. However, we are also committed to protecting
Workers' Rights - so that workers' rights are not impinged on, workers are not abused, do not suffer from exploitation.

These are heavy issues, and our caucus has grappled with the challenge inherent. What takes precedence? The Right to Work or the Workers' Rights?


The impact of systemic bias, of institutional racism, the plight of the jobless are still issues of significance for this nation - and we must have the courage and strength to consider options.

We therefore will vote on principle, wanting there to be room for discussion, but also always aware of the juggling act to protect Workers' Rights alongside the Right to Work.
There is no juggling act needed to protect Workers' Rights and the Right to Work. One of workers' rights is the right to work, and the only way to protect that right is actually protecting it. For example, if you tightened the law on fixed-term contracts, that would be protecting the right to work. If you said that people had to be employed directly, and people couldn't use temp companies and sub-contractors, that'd protect the right to work. Even a tiny bill like the Employment Relation Amendment Bill, currently before parliament, would protect the right to work (it would enact the protection parliament already tried to give vulnerable workers, but failed due to general incompetence and a ridiculously conservative appeals court).

This bill does not protect the right to work, it attacks it, because it gives employers the ability to arbitrarily deny workers' right to work within the first 90 days of employment.

Also published at Alas.


  1. For every right there is a responsability. I don't agree that we have the right to work, because for everyone who had that right someone else would have the duty to provide that work. But this is institutionalised slavery!

    Humans have a great variety of needs and wants that only a free market can supply. But the market cannot meet that demand unless it can reinvent its structure to provide those things. By commanding what kinds of jobs people can have and how long business relationships can last you destroy the productive power of the market.

    The ability to arbitrarily create work or dispense with it is essential. But employers don't use their arbitrary power to make arbitrary decisions! They need to be productive and make their industrial organisation reflects that by who and how they hire. Likewise, the employee has to bow to exactly the same forces in the service of production.

    If work were the answer to all our problems we could all just dig holes/fill them in ever other day, all day. That's work. That's jobs.

    It's not a masterminding human-cotroled labour market that can enhance prosperity and productivity. A free market for labour works best because it gives off signals we can trust (unlike man-made edicts) and plan for and adapt to. It's also best because it makes slaves of nobody.

  2. I agree it is stupid.

    1. shows no understanding or knowledge of the actual components of the right to work. It actually, at least in the sense it is used in the UN International Declaration of Human Rights means a right to decent work which is fairly remunerated.

    See Article 23

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    2.The trade off he imagines exists between generating jobs against workers rights taken to its logical consequences leads to the "race to the bottom". The logical end point is NZ as a low wage, low skilled economy trying to compete against third world countries on the basis of cheap labour.

    3. The trade off he imagines exists between workers rights and the right to work goes against a lot of recent empirical research with respect to the importance of workers rights in terms of the economic benefits of generating productivity, social capital etc.

    And I could go on but its making me too annoyed so I shall stop...