#TPPA CTU @FairnessNZ appeals to secretive @ILO committee to challenge NZ sovereignty over employment law

The unions are very much against investor state dispute settlement provisions of trade agreements, but are happy to be serial complainants to secretive International Labour Organisation (ILO) committees about employment law amendments they do not like. A fair defeat in the floor of parliament was not good enough for them.

As far back as 1993 the Council of Trade Unions has complained to secretive ILO committees about labour market deregulation in New Zealand. These secretive committees are formed under ILO conventions in New Zealand signed decades go.

Source: Submission of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill Part, Wellington 25 July 2013.

The competence of these ILO committees are clearly in question if they hear an appeal under a convention New Zealand has not ratified. Imagine the outrage if an investor state dispute settlement panel heard on appeal despite New Zealand having a carve-out for the topic concerned. An example would be tobacco regulation.

Justice Scalia has a fine critique of those who believe in activist judges and living constitutions that applies just as well as to activist international adjudicators and living international treaties:

You think there ought to be a right to abortion? No problem. The Constitution says nothing about it. Create it the way most rights are created in a democratic society. Pass a law. And that law, unlike a Constitutional right to abortion created by a court can compromise. It can…I was going to say it can split the baby! …A Constitution is not meant to facilitate change. It is meant to impede change, to make it difficult to change.

Rather than use normal democratic means – trying to persuade each other and elections – the union movement threatened to go to a secretive ILO committee made up of members of uncertain competence and impartiality over the recent laws on collective bargaining.

Source: Submission of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill Part, Wellington 25 July 2013.

The union movement was outraged at the fact that New Zealand laws it likes could be questioned at international forums. It said this in a recent submission to the Health Select Committee of Parliament.

Source: Submission of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi to the Health Select Committee on the Smoke Free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill, Wellington March 2014.

The unions were equally outraged about dispute settlement procedures in the recent free trade agreement with Korea. The unions were absolutely affronted at the idea that the sovereignty of the New Zealand Parliament could be challenged at a foreign forum.

Source: Submission of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee on the Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, Wellington 24 April 2015.

These protestations of the union movement would have much more credibility if union did not run off to a UN or ILO committee every time they were on the losing side of a vote in parliament. The unions are happy with those parts of international economic law that serve its interests but behave hypocritical about the other parts that do not. As United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said

The virtue of a democratic system [with a constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech] is that it readily enables the people, over time, to be persuaded that what they took for granted is not so and to change their laws accordingly.

Nothing stirs up the impassioned (and most other people as well) more than depriving them of their right to support or oppose what is important to them through political campaigns and at an election.

The losing side, and we all end up on the losing side at one time or another, are much more likely to accept an outcome if they had their say and simply lost the vote at the election or in Parliament. Power to the people as long as I am on the winning side instead is the motto of the union movement.

The unions losing on labour market deregulation is no different from any other political difference within New Zealand. Both sides passionately but respectfully attempt to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views.

Win or lose, advocates for today’s losing causes can continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss today can be negated by a later electoral win, which is democracy in action as Justice Kennedy explained recently in the US context:

…a democracy has the capacity—and the duty—to learn from its past mistakes; to discover and confront persisting biases; and by respectful, rationale deliberation to rise above those flaws and injustices…

It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds.

The process of public discourse and political debate should not be foreclosed even if there is a risk that during a public campaign there will be those, on both sides, who seek to use racial division and discord to their own political advantage.

An informed public can, and must, rise above this. The idea of democracy is that it can, and must, mature. Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people. These First Amendment dynamics would be disserved if this Court were to say that the question here at issue is beyond the capacity of the voters to debate and then to determine.


If you are an economist working for a politician, don’t parade as an independent one..

Mostly Economics

It is such an irony really. One one hand, economists spend most of their time talking or training themselves about ills of government. But on the other, they just salvate on getting a position of government economic adviser/central banker etc. The power of being a government appointed economist suddenly catapults one to enormous fame. And if the person can build some image spin with the media, then one is assured of a position of a demi-god of sorts.

The run up to US Presidential elections is on. As expected, economists have jumped in the fray saying which Presidential candidate’s economic plan is superior to others. It is as chaotic as following the Presidential candidate debates.

Prof Laurence Kotlikoff has an apt warning for all such economists. They parade as economists but their advice is colored on the basis of the position of their political bosses or political favorites:

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Tree? What Tree?: Illinois Woman Pulled Over Driving Against Traffic With A 15-Foot Tree Lodged In Car Grille


12705596_1100273839996212_1239907012237752889_n The Roselle (Ill.) police released this picture from a drunk driving arrest this week. The driver failed to stop after hitting a tree. Instead, the car was pulled over about 11:10 p.m. traveling the wrong way with a 15-foot-tree lodged in the front grille of the Lincoln.

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Wind & Solar Power can NEVER Replace Conventional Power Generation


turbine collapse michigan3 Simply not up to the job ….


The death of the wind industry didn’t come about because BIG Coal felt ‘threatened‘ and set out in some kind of John Grisham conspiracy to wreck it by fair means or foul. No. What kills it is the fact that a growing band of ‘eco-travellers’ – of the kind who once placed their faith in the Wind Gods – have woken up to the scale and scope of the great wind power fraud.

For the climate change Chicken Littles, their quest to rid the planet of dreaded CO2 gas (query how plants and every other living thing survive without it?) has seen the more sensible of their number turn their backs on the wind; and to nuzzle up to nukes, instead.

Dr. Alan Carlin has, despite his background with America’s top environmental lobby, the Sierra Club, not only…

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Inequality is not getting worse and worse says @WJRosenbergCTU!?

Bill Rosenberg of the Council of Trade Unions is one of many economists who point out that income inequality has not been getting worse and worse in New Zealand since the 1990s. Inequality rose sharply in the late 1980s and early 90s but has remained high but nevertheless stable since then as he says in his 2014 paper of trends in living standards:

This is another symptom of the sharp rise in income inequality between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s, which remains high.

His employer, the Council of Trade Unions when it was denouncing the Employment Contracts Act 1991 as the reason for low wages growth has also drawn attention to the early 1990s as a turning point in the relationship between inequality, union bargaining power and wages growth.

As the Council of Trade Unions showed in the chart it published during the last election campaign, which I snapshoted below and also annotated, from 1970 to 1975 there was rapid real wages growth, well in excess of real growth in per capita GDP. This wages breakout was followed by some ups and downs but essentially wages in 1995 were no higher per hour from what they were in 1975. Real wages were about $24 per hour in real terms in New Zealand for about 20 years – from 1975 to 1995.

There was no real GDP per capita growth from 1975 until 1979 nor in the five years leading up to the passage of the Employment Contracts Act 1991. The period leading up to 1975 wages breakout wages was the zenith of union membership; nearly 70% of all workers belonging to a union. Less than 20% do now and less than 10% in the private sector.

Source: Income Gap | New Zealand Council of Trade Unions – Te Kauae Kaimahi.

After staying at about $24 per hour for 20 years from 1975 to the early 1990s, following the passage of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991, average wages in New Zealand have increased steadily from $24 an hour to about $28 per hour by 2014 in one of the most deregulated labour markets in the world.

As Rosenberg, who is chief economist at the Council of Trade Unions, and the Council of Trade Unions itself pointed out, there were major changes in the New Zealand economy in terms of inequality of incomes and union bargaining power in the late 80s and early 1990s.

These changes referred to by the unions as an erosion of workers bargaining power, brought an end to wage stagnation. Steady real wages growth returned after two lost decades: next to no growth in either GDP per capita or incomes of workers.

Road crash deaths per 100,000 Americans, British, Germans, French, Italians and Swedes since 2000


Source: Motor Vehicle Crashes in New Zealand 2014 | Ministry of Transport via International Road Traffic and Accident Database.

Getting Energy Prices Right

The adjusted #genderwagegap by occupation and family status


The #genderwagegap by the length of the working week


People Who Hate Cats Meet Kittens

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The truth about the great wind power fraud

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