Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's not that I don't have anything to say

Most readers have probably figured out that it's not a coincidence that posting has slowed down during the lock-out.

I'm not directly involved in this struggle. I'm not a member of NDU, and I don't work for them. But this is an important struggle, and right now any spare time or energy I have needs to be givent to doing the little bit I can do to help.


  1. Anonymous6:56 am

    I think it is unfortunate but this struggle will either make or break the union movement as we know it today.

    Why has it come to this? Because trade unions have become the pawns of the socialists. Socialist are not interested in bettering the conditions of workers at all. (because a better off worker would not need a socialist to run their lives).

    A modern union of workers would be much more interested in bettering their members through organising work for them by employing their own members and gaining work for them by tendering or bidding for contracts.

    The modern trade unions would be the primary source of industry training and have qualified members available to meet their customers requirements at mutually agreed trading terms.

    Modern trade unions would get preferential deals for their members, through their weight of numbers, at a huge variety of institutions (daycare, schools, banks, etc.)

    Socialism and the trade union movement have become one in the public eye which I think is to the detriment of everything a true modern trade union of workers could be.

    It is time to abandon the cloth socialist cap, put on a hard hat and get trade unions of workers organised without the socialist agenda.

  2. Gerrit - Couldn't agree more.
    Have found for a long time that the unfortunate fact of Unions is they very rarely act in the best interests of their members. If they did I would be less critical of them and their actions.

  3. Maia - you are more likely to be able to find this out:

    Are the Union Officials of the NDU/EPMU continuing to draw their pay entitlements during this period? Or are they 'donating' them to the fighting fund?

  4. Gerrit: you keep using this word socialism. I do not think it means what you think it means. (Chocolate fish for the reference-spotter.) Socialism, as envisioned by Marx, is when workers take over the means of production and equitably distribute them among small, rural communities using the barter system. Trade unions can't be 'pawns of the socialists', because they are working within a capitalist system. Who are these mysterious 'socialists' to whom the unions are in thrall? I mean, what on earth are you talking about, dude?

  5. I can confirm two things. One is that the NDU leadership are not leading the workers in this matter, and the workers are making their own decisions. The other is that union organisers are giving significant amounts of their income to the lock-out fund.

    Danielle - it's inconceivable that anyone wouldn't know that reference

  6. Anonymous10:40 am

    My interpretation of socialism is not the same what you describe as communism. Socialism is a close you can come to communism while still working in a capitalistic society.

    Now I may not have the definition quite correct to fit your opinion but it is how I identify a socialist.

    The point in my comment was that the cloth cap, them versus us, confrontational style doesn't work. Simply because PEL have deeper pockets and you are in a no win situation.

    What I'm asking is would trade unions members be better off if the union was to operate more in a particpating capacity within the capitalistic system.

    Such as buying shares in PEL and creating wealth for their mmbers that way (as an example)

    Or actually employing their members and sourcing employment for them on a direct basis. Running their own training schemes to get the best work opportunities for thei members.

    Call me ingorant, that fine, but I think unionism as it is currently perceived is heading out the back door.

    Have had this argument with many an engineers union organiser but they always say "it is a class struggle, we dont buy into the rich owners class"

    Now it has been a while since I was in the engineers union and a delegat, so things may have changed.

    My question to you is still,

    "Is witholding labour the only answer to improving trade union members conditions?"

    Can you look outside the square and see other opportunities?

  7. Anonymous10:53 am

    And you'd have to be a Rodent of Unusual Size to not see who is in the right here, and to support them in some way.

    We stand together, or we fall alone. It's an appeal that's a trifle simple, but undeniable.

  8. If a union was bidding for a contract, it would have to pressure its workers to accept lower pay, in order to be able to present a more attractive bid. If it didn't win a contract, it would have to fire its own members. How would a union pay for training? Charge higher fees to the workers, in order to cut training costs for the bosses? How is that in the interests of workers? The union cannot take on the role of employer without becoming the enemy of the workers.

    You don't have six fingers on your right hand by any chance, do you?

  9. Anonymous12:47 pm


    No I dont have six fingers and if I did would that make a difference to this dicussion? Your suggesting that some of these ideas are wacky, thats cool.

    Have a close relative lives in a large USA city whom is employed by the union in the electrical field. Above standard award wages, never been not working while employed by the union.

    Union bids and gets contracts because the union trained staff are highly sought after, the jobs get done on time and in full. Costing is but a secondary consideration when meeting safety standards and guarenteed delivery are more important.

    Side benefits of medical care, guarenteed income even if no work, access to union subsidised financial aid for housing,etc.

    No it may not work in NZ but as I said before if unions keep doing the same as they have always done, nothing will improve. Next year the workers will be on strike again for the next catch up wage round.

    Anybody has any ideas at all to break this cycle except suggesting I have six fingers or are a rodent?

    Nah maybe not.

  10. Anonymous12:48 pm

    If only people could think outside the square and think for themselves.

    Alas our thinking is done for us - and done so well most people will deny this until they are blue in the face.

    Such a waste.

  11. The situation for highly skilled professionals in short supply such as electricians is not comparable to that for supermarket workers.

    Of course we have an idea for breaking the cycle - socialist revolution.

  12. Anonymous1:56 pm


    We have had this dicussion before.

    Ain't going to happen. So join the capitalists world and use the sysem to your best advantage.

    The warehousing staff are highly skilled not unskilled at all. Maybe in a different sense then say an electrician but still highly skilled.

    I believe though that PEL have an ulterior motive somewhere and are on your side regarding the current situation. My bet is on them wanting to close one or more ditribution centres and with a nationwide agreement this would be much more difficult.

    Even if this resolves itself in the unions favour you are going to have to do it all again in 24-48 months time.

  13. Anonymous5:07 pm

    Some of us do not want to join the capitalists because we understand that in order for one to get ahead in that system one must take advantage of at least one other - if not more. And I cannot do that, it is something about believing everyone is equal.

    You are fooling yourself if you think you are using the capitalist system to your advantage. It is using you.

  14. Anonymous5:57 pm


    I'm doing OK thanks.

    Doesn't feel like I'm being used.

    Cheers for your concern.

  15. Anonymous8:20 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. "It doesn't feel like I'm being used"

    It might not feel like it because for your entire life you have been conditioned to think that way.

    Give up work for a few months, spend some time thinking about who you are and what you are doing with your life. Then come back to me with your thoughts.

  16. Anonymous10:37 pm

    Done that for the last 14 months. Happy as a sandboy.

  17. wellred - please explain how you would implement Socialism / Communism differently to every other time it has been tried.

    IE so that the direct exploitation of the non-ruling elite is not more complete than in a capitalist system?
    You see the "power" holders in a capitalist system are still transient - and it is far easier to transcend class than under a Feudal, Socialist or Communist system.

  18. Anonymous8:09 am

    Of course I have my ideas on how future societies should be run but who am I to say?

    Nothing will change until people start thinking for themselves. More than anything that is what I am trying to encourage you all to do. If I believe that the only way for effective change is for people to think for themselves I can hardly tell you or anyone what to think can I?

    Perhaps I can give examples where people don't think for themselves.

    You said in another post that you didn't want to live in a country that didn't embrace capitalism and mentioned the USSR as an example (as well African countries). Why use USSR? Why assume that communism is what I think is the way forward? I need to assume you were born after WWII...

    From that time until the collapse of the Soviet Union we (USA, Australia, NZ, UK) were constantly told that communism was evil not to be trusted and importantly it was offered as the only alternative to capitalism and a damn terrible one at that.

    Like most people you have heard this all your life and accept it is a given. So much so that you assumed that was my position.

    I am not a fan of communism - all power is corrupt. But communism never gets a fair go, we hear about Fidel being ill and all the negatives about Cuba. We never hear about their impressive health system - one of the best in the world and free.

    Media and public opinion does your thinking for you. It is far easier to go allow with what society dicates is the norm rather than be an indivdual and form your own opinions. Everyone has a desire not to be alone and the easiest way to achieve that is to go along with society.

    Everyone should by now know that we were lied to about the WMDs in Iraq. 911 has so many unanswered questions. Yet, when I saw TV3 news last week the foreign journalist they were using talking about Iran said "the evidence is clear". This journalist is making our minds up for us and on a subject that we know we have been lied to about. I am not saying that Iran is or isn't doing something. I am saying our thinking is being done for us - remember prior to the Iraq invasion for that is a classic example of public opinion being twisted and used for the rulers advantage.

    When the USSR fell the US had no enemy, no one to justify the massive arms expenditure on - so they invented one. And now we fight a war on terror! WTF is that?? We were told we could be fighting multiple wars in many areas. And so it is happening. They say, we follow...

    What is the biggest industry in the world? The arms industry, need I say more...

    Capitalism doesn't benefit you, me or anyone expect for a few extremely rich people. You think it does and you think you are. How many days a week do people get up and say "great, beautiful day, there is nothing else I would rather do than go to work." Try travelling into NZ (as a Kiwi) and not answer the questions about where you have been, why, whom, etc. We are not free by any means.

    In a nutshell, I believe that every person knows what is best for their own lives - or would if they were given a chance.

  19. Anonymous8:39 am

    "In a nutshell, I believe that every person knows what is best for their own lives - or would if they were given a chance."

    Nice sentiment. Perhaps rather than complain about capitalism you should complain about the state which is the biggest violator of the ability to choose what is best for you own life.

  20. Anonymous8:45 am


    Hope Maia doesnt mind us highjacking her blog and going way off topic.

    Maybe I look at life different then you do. I dont work in the sense that I labour for someone else. All my labours are for the betterment of myself.

    Because I set goals in what I wanted to achieve in life and have achieve about 80% of them.

    This from a position of leaving school with School Cert. and pumping gas as my first job. Have made instant coffee working at Nestles, aluminium foil working at Alcan, painted colour steel working at NZ Steel. Include in this ungodly night shifts. Worked for a painting contractor 30 stories up on high rises. Joined the proffesional ranks as a sales rep at 30. Rising to marketing manager for an international company. Took redundancy and set up on my own. Now cut up metal on a CNC machine centre.

    In the process have amassed assets consisting of two houses, a half share in a 32 foot launch, a business valued at $??

    When it is a nice day I pack the fishing rods and go fishing.

    That is what capitalism has done for me.

    Now if I could find a decent operator I would buy a CNC Lathe and employ staff to increase production.

  21. Anonymous9:16 am


    I quote myself "all power is corrupt"

  22. Anonymous11:55 am


    Define rich.

    And by comparison poor.

    We all have the opportunities to achieve the goals one sets for one self.

    Being poor to me means you dont see any opportunities. I would rather people looked for opportunites then handouts.

    If they require education, housing, support, etc. fine provide it. What I see though is a welfare dependancy has crept in and the poor dont see the opportunities open to improve their position.

    That is why I think unions have let down their members. There is so much they could do to improve their members opportunities but they seem mired in the cloth cap era.

  23. Gerrit, 'welfare dependency' is mostly a myth. The vast, vast majority of people on unemployment benefits, for example, move off them within a year. Hardly anyone likes to be unemployed. The stigma is large and the payout is minimal.

  24. Anonymous4:53 pm


    Please dont patronise me. Have been very poor. 4 Children earning less then the average wage working 2 double shift and a saturday per week to get ahead.

    Just because I've made "it" now doesnt mean I havent had hardships. Gone without and my kids have gone without all lot of things.

    Cost one marriage as well. Try working night shift for a week and sleep during the day with little kids around the house.

  25. Gerrit - sorry I initially mistook you for one of "those" that see Socialism as the direct answer to solving the perceived inadequacies of a Capitalist system.

    Given the subsequent responses to your other posts you can see how easy it is to make that assumption around "here".

  26. Danielle - you missed what Gerrit said:
    Welfare Dependency is completely different from Welfare Abuse. What it directly affects is the ability of those that have fallen into the system to make a meaningful break from that system to improve themselves and their dependents.

    And that is also in terms of closing peoples eyes to risks and opportunities more than saying that they will be permanently on a benefit.

  27. wellred - you also assume that I see the US as being a poster boy for a Capitalist society, or indeed the structure behind what I would want.

  28. Like most people you have heard this all your life and accept it is a given. So much so that you assumed that was my position.
    While the latter assumption is correct - that is also somewhat influenced by your moniker and direction of your previous posts around here.

    As to the former you make fairly wild assumptions that it is not a considered position and that I have not assessed all the information that you bring up and still come to a different conclusion to yourself.

    The main issue in the US is ironically somewhat similar to a key here - the devolution of personal responsibility - over and above anything to do with a Capitalist / Socialist / Communist / Fascist political structure.

  29. Anonymous7:35 am


    I do believe in a form of socialism called team work. Where a collective (union) group of individuals get together for the betterment of the team.

    The example I use to demonstrate this teamwork in action is the case of a group of canal barge owners in England some centuries ago. The needed to replace their old barges but on an individual bases could not afford to do it. Not earning enough to stump up to a bank for a loan. So 10 of them pooled their profits and found that they could buy one new barge every year. Who got the first was decided by drawing numbers from a hat. As each barge owner got a new barge his profits jumped so he was able to increase his input into the barge buying scheme. Within 7 years the ten barge owners had new barges. At no extra cost and at not being in debt to a money lender.

    They lost none of their individuality, bound only by honor to complete the team task. One could imagine them teaming up again to say buy extra horses to pull the barges or maybe to motorise them.

    Team work beats any individual. However like a good sport team it is made up of individuals each with their own talent working for the common good of the team.

    One word we dont hear in the haggling between PEL and the union is Reciprocity.

    Without reciprocity their is no negotiation only haggling.

    Without reciprocity there is no betterment for either the worker (in financial and or learning opportunity)or the company (in financial or productivity improvements)

    Have a think about reciprocity and how you could use it in your everyday dealings with the people around you.

    Thus ends the sermon. Going to make my good lady wife her morning coffee, reciprocity?

  30. Anonymous11:00 am

    By default or design, we are led to believe that there are so many issues that need addressing that it impossible to understand them all and to try is futile.

    This is not correct. It is, in fact, very easy to understand.

    But only you can find the truth (and I am not referring to religion - just to be clear) and to do that you need to think originally - your own ideas and thoughts and your own thought process. That is very hard to do but well worth the effort.

    Ask yourself how influenced by society you are. Are your goals in life your own or what society tells you they should be - without you even realising?

    If everyone could and did think for themselves capitalism (as we know it, two examples - buy to sell, rather than sell to buy and the money supply created by debt) would fall tomorrow. Why? Because it disadvantages a majority of people in this planet but they (us) are very effectively kept under control - either by design or default.

    I challenge you deny this:

    1. The poor are getter poorer whilst the rich get richer.

    2. We fight wars in order to keep the peace. (How you can do that is beyond me)

    Our so called leaders have had ample time to address the "issues" and they have failed.

    It is well time to try something else but first we have to start thinking.

    Good luck

  31. iiwhatever:

    >> Welfare Dependency is completely different from Welfare Abuse. What it directly affects is the ability of those that have fallen into the system to make a meaningful break from that system to improve themselves and their dependents. <<

    So... I say that the vast majority of people who are on the unemployment benefit move off it within a year (true), and you say that people on welfare aren't abusing the system, but they're unable to move off it because of some kind of nebulous theory about structural 'welfare dependency'. Even though most of them do, in fact, move off welfare. Within a year. As I said.

    I'm not sure that your point makes any logical sense.

  32. Danielle - what I said was that the welfare system can act as an impediment to people making a meaningful break from that system to improve themselves and their dependents.

    Please note that this it not saying that people do not get off benefits - or even do not desire to get off benefits; but that it creates a mindset which is difficult to transcend. And as WellRed likes to point out the mindset that is created is of the worst, dependent, self-destructive kind.

  33. Gerrit - your canal barge operator example is also that of insurance.
    Or corporation, or co-operation.

    While I agree with the sentiment which is one that I already hold; the most important point that i see to take from that particular example is that people need to take responsibility for their own situations and actions. That people and corporations do not need to act in an antagonistic manner towards each other and the greatest synergies are when people operate together without coercion.

  34. I challenge you deny this:
    1. The poor are getter poorer whilst the rich get richer.
    2. We fight wars in order to keep the peace. (How you can do that is beyond me)

    1. While the gap between "poor" and "rich" may be growing this does not necessarily equate to the poor getting poorer. Worldwide there are remarkably few instances of living conditions within that country deteriorating - which would be the required prerequisite for your statement to be true. Around this point I would reverse your challenge that you also need to keep thinking and challenging for yourself as well.

    2. I won't challenge that one in terms of truth - I agree. However here we need to attack the Feudal underpinnings that have created that situation, rather than the economics.

  35. Anonymous8:50 am

    iiq374, You are right the barge oners example descibes a cooperative.

    Danielle, No disagreement at all with you that 99.99% of all welfare recipients would like to be off welfare and able to take the opportunities that life presented them with.

    Focussing back on what modern trade unions could be doing for their members outside of haggling for their yearly pay rises and upgrades of working conditions.

    Have not been a member of a trade union for a long time so some suggestion may already be in place.

    Would trade union members vote to increase their subscriptions if the union was to include vocational guidance in their repitoire of services offered to its members?

    I see a lot of skilled people in jobs that are clearly below their potential. (agree some may not want to change)

    Would a modern trade union support a service that could potential see a skilled warehouse person with great aptitude for three dimension thinking, mathematical ability and mechanical nounce be guided to train as say an CNC machine operator.

    Would the warehouse union let him go to the engineers union and would the engineers union take on the training to make this persons employable in a field where ther is a world shortage of skilled operators.

    I would welcome the engineers union coming to our workplace and asking if a person could spend a few weeks on an internship to see if what they would like to be trained to learn the software, create the code and run CNC machines.

    If suitable the engineers union could liaison with the right government department (hand up welfare) to get funding to send this person to a Technical Institute for training and start canvassing for a full time position in a high paying job with a skill they could take anywhere in the world?

  36. Anonymous8:31 pm


    Good point re the poor getter poorer.

    I try to challenge what I think I know and how I know it all the time. I too fail - it is not easy as I say but like most things realising you have the problem is half the battle.

    I also know it is offensive when I assert that people are not thinking for themselves but I am sure that is only way for positive change to come about.

  37. wellred - good to hear :D

    The most depressing thing about engaging in political / societal debate is the number of people supporting all reaches of the spectrum that are unable or unwilling to challenge the foundations of their beliefs.

    And of course the number of people that think that they challenge their beliefs is still far greater than the number that do.

  38. it always boils down to the fact that both sides know what each other will say before they say it, thereby circumventing the need for actual thought-provoking statements. Its all about mindset, going in to the whole debating thing....

    "keep an open mind, and a closed fists." - Lyndon B. Johnson