Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Good to hear

David Cunliffe went to the CTU conferance today, and made some solid promises about Labour's initial agenda in office:

David Cunliffe has used one of his first major speeches as Labour leader to further outline his party's major focuses for its first 100 days in office if it wins the next election.

In a strident speech to a receptive audience at the Council of Trade Unions conference in Wellington this morning he promised to scrap National's "anti-worker" employment policies "in the first hundred days" and ensure workers a "better share of the benefits" of a strong New Zealand economy.

There would be no more "fire at will" and no more "attacks on vulnerable workers'' or "undermining health and safety" or a youth wage.

"In the Labour government that I lead John Key's attacks on workers will be gone by lunchtime," he said.

This is all pretty easy to do - National's 90-day bill, its restoration of youth rates, and its theft of lunchbreaks are all easily unravelled. A bill introduced after the election and sent to select committee over the holidays would have time to pass within the first hundred days. It would also send a clear message to employers: any anti-worker provisions they get National to enact will be swiftly reversed the moment the left takes office, so they will be of short-term benefit at most. But all that does is restore the status quo ante. What's interesting is what comes after (and on that front Labour looks pretty positive as well).

One thing worth noting though is that the totemic $15 / hour minimum wage which Labour has promised to meet was set five years ago, when the minimum wage was much lower, and has been effectively eroded by inflation. Rather than being a significant increase (as it was when first pushed), its now a slightly-above pathway one. It will be important as a sign of what's to come, and Labour has an excellent record on using above-inflation minimum wage increases to drive wage growth and equality, so I don't doubt their willingness to go further. But we really need to set them a new target to aim for.