Week in review: a pay rise for the ages
Philip Matthews enjoys the irony of the pay equity news.
Power in a union, redux
This is easily the biggest victory the New Zealand union movement has had in decades. In a settlement with the Government, unions negotiated a significant pay rise for about 55,000 underpaid aged care workers. It was five years in the making, after Wellington rest home worker Kristine Bartlett argued that the 1972 Equal Pay Act should apply to sectors of work that are female-dominated and underpaid. The Court of Appeal agreed and Government ministers found themselves in the unlikely situation of applauding collective worker muscle and pay increases that lift people past the minimum wage to a living wage and beyond, which has not exactly been the standard National Party position.
In not unrelated news, former New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger now believes that neoliberalism has failed and unions should have a stronger voice in our politics. As neoliberalism is the big policy shift also known locally as Rogernomics or even Ruthanasia, which included the end of compulsory unionism, this is a major mea culpa. Bolger's comments came within the third interview in a fascinating RNZ series called The 9th Floor, in which Guyon Espiner quizzes former prime ministers. The series stops at Helen Clark, which is just as well, because you suspect that John Key can be relied upon to not reflect thoughtfully or change his mind. Key was prime minister as manager or CEO, not ideologue or big thinker.
A spring clean for the May queen
British Prime Minister Theresa May both surprised and failed to surprise the jaded British public, media community and fellow politicians by announcing a snap election for June 8, which must make the UK the most over-polled nation in recent history. The consensus among pundits and commentators seems to be that the snap election will see a decimation of the already weakened, highly factional Labour opposition and the likely end of leader Jeremy Corbyn's political career. "They're going to suffer very badly, and there's no way of polishing it up and seeing a bright side," said Anthony Wells, a political researcher and pollster in the UK.
When you hear people talk disparagingly about "old white men" who are ruining the world, they mean figures like Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly. Ailes was founder and CEO of Fox News until he resigned in 2016, following sexual harassment allegations. No one was very shocked when he turned up as a consultant for Donald Trump's debate preparation. O'Reilly was Ailes' big star, host of The O'Reilly Factor, until sexual harassment allegations led to his downfall as well. What is it with these guys? Trump and O'Reilly were close too. It was just a couple of weeks ago that Trump told the New York Times that O'Reilly "is a good person" and "I don't think Bill did anything wrong". But Trump has other friends – Right-wing rock stars Ted Nugent and Kid Rock paid the White House a visit this week, along with politician and gun fan Sarah Palin. What a meeting of the minds that must have been.