Saturday, November 01, 2014

Seymour on Employment Relations Bill

David Seymour makes solid anfd interesting speeches (much like Rodney Hide used to and still delivers as weekly columns in the HOS and NBR).

His contribution to the 'teabreak' bill debate uses a novel thought experiment reversing employers and employees. But it is the conclusion I've cut and paste below:

I support this bill because it is a step in the right direction towards more flexible labour markets.
Like all attempts to improve public policy, this amendment is imperfect.
Economic reality and experience suggest it should have gone further. Governments cannot legislate market outcomes, but can influence them.
Let me leave the opposition with two initiatives that might better help New Zealanders achieve better pay and conditions.
Nominal pay rates are only worthwhile to the extent that they are useful for buying real goods. The price of houses have doubled relative to incomes over the last two decades, overwhelmingly due to local authorities prescribing an urban development pattern incompatible with the housing people actually want.
Far more could be achieved for working New Zealanders by improving the responsiveness of housing market supply than by futile attempts to shift bargaining strategies in the labour market.
Another contributor to the outcomes in the labour market is the skill level of employees. Employees with greater skills earn more, and this factor is growing in importance.
Indeed, increases in inequality of market income in the western world can be attributed to increasing returns to skills – you can earn more and more if you are more literate and more numerate.
The real work achieving the opposition’s purported objectives is being done on the supply sides of the housing and education sectors, and I’m proud to support and encourage this government in this work.
In conclusion I am proud to support this bill and hope that this government will one day pursue best practice policy by confronting the fallacies that underlie too much of our labour law legislation.
The duty to enter into and conclude bargaining should be gone.
The duty to retain staff under Section 6A almost unconditionally dependent on the type of employee, and now the type of business, should be gone.
Doing so would put us in touch with the labour market of the 21st century, whose businesses succeed or fail based on their ability to attract and retain workers.


Mark Hubbard said...

I don't know much about Seymour, other than his outer persona has an unfortunate schoolboy buffoonery about it that can trap you on surfaces of thinking he's a lightweight. But this piece shows a lot of depth and is heartening.

(I'm not saying he should drop the new boy lightness, not everything should be heavy, but if he makes it a point to intellectualise policy into context as well as this, then he'll be using ACT's single seat well. (And if he keeps away from the popular red neck stuff ACT electioneered on way too much.))

Anonymous said...

It is a relief that the NZ parliament has at least one MP with some intellectual grunt and guts.

Oh for goodness sake. Not just "the duty to enter into bargaining" but then entire communistic 'Employment Relationships Act" should be gone. Compared to productive US states with Right To Work laws, even Ruth's old "Employment Contracts Act" was pretty damn union-biased.

The fact of the matter is Seymour's - ACT's - policies are so far to the left it's not even funny. Guts? Intellectual Grunt? Please! I mean, on housing:

The price of houses have doubled relative to incomes over the last two decades,

So what? It's a f***ing market! Nothing any government, whether GOSPLAN (National) or Peoples and Unions Democratic House Building Organisation (Labour) is going to make a blind bit of difference. The fact that lots of lazy bludging Kiwis can't afford a house is neither here nor there; they don't deserve to own a house. More to the point, after a few years in London or New York a deposit is no problem - and then while mortgages have doubled in response to personal incomes, over the last twenty years almost every household with a mortgage now has two incomes; the ratio to household income remains the same!

NZ's home ownership rights are right in line for capitalist countries - no different from Oz, UK, US.
Which countries have ownership rates above 80%? Russia. China. Romania. So basically in trying to increase home ownership rates Seymour is again arguing for Communism

ACT is supposed to be a party for productive individuals, for job creators, for property owners, not for moochers and bludgers and unionists. I appreciate residential property as one investment option amongst many. Why is ACT arguing against my investments?

Will Hainsworth said...

Anonymous - you're right - it's a market. But certainly nothing like a free one. Your investment properties are worth more because of government interference saying 'you can't build that there!'. The reality is local and central government placing such strict controls on land supply and use is indirectly picking winners - no better that subsidies for 'green tech' or a certain very expensive yacht team. It sounds like you're one of those winners, and I can't blame you for wanting to protect the (artificially high) value of your investment. But you seem to have failed to realise that you're the one benefiting from big government policies!