||Issue No. 262||06 May 2005|
Rights and Wrongs
Interview: Fortress NSW
Unions: Fashions Afield
Industrial: Pay Dirt
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Big Day Out
International: Making History
Economics: The Fear Factor
Review: The Robots Revolt
Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The Locker Room
Howard Rides Kiwi Model
Government MP, Nanaia Mahuta, said nine years of life under the Employment Contracts Act, the blueprint for Howard’s agenda, left her country demoralised.
"We faced low morale amongst our working people," Mahuta told Workers Online. "And we lost thousands and thousands of skilled workers, mainly to Australia.
"New Zealand is not a big country and the talent drain still costs us."
Mahuta was sent to Australia by the her government to investigate how Kiwis could be lured home to help rebuild their economy.
Meeting expats, she said, their prime motivations for crossing the Tasman could be summed up in two words - "wages" and "opportunities".
"Even people without high-level skills bought a ticket and got a chance," she said.
"They left a situation, based on individual contracts, that meant employees rights had gone down while employers rights had gone up.
"Five years ago, morale amongst our workforce was not very good at all."
Mahuta said Helen Clark's government had tried to turn that around by putting collective contracts back at the centre of industrial life, boosting apprenticeships, and emphasising workplace safety - things that suffer "when all the emphasis is on the bottom line".
Half a decade after the Employment Contracts Act was ripped up and its authors thrown out of power, Mahuta will have her work cut out convincing large numbers to head home.
The effects of the legislation still hold down living standards and opportunities.
On a recent visit to New Zealand, we found senior security guards driving large quantities of cash around the North Island, earning $12.50 an hour, and experienced heavy equipment operators, with all their tickets, getting $13.
To get overtime, the guards had to work more than 11 hours a day and the machinery operators had to be on the job for more than 50 hours a week.
Mahuta's second trans-Tasman mission was to convince Kiwis to enrol and vote in this year's general election.
New Zealand citizens are entitled to vote if they have set foot in the country at any time over the past three years.
Unions NSW secretary, John Robertson, backed Mahuta's call.
"We need to do all we can to make sure Labor is re-elected in New Zealand," Roberston said.
Kiwis can check their enrolment status, and enrol, at: http://www.elections.org.nz/
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|