Foodstuffs employees on strike in 2017 (Supplied, FIRST Union)

The Bulletin: Unions demand government keeps promise

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Pressure on government from unions, mosque attack victim widows turned down for residency, and another Nat eyes safe Botany seat nomination.

Pressure is being put on the government to deliver on one of their major promises to the union movement, reports the NZ Herald (paywalled.) It relates to Fair Pay Agreements, which would cover whole sectors, and on which a working group delivered a report almost a year ago. However the government is yet to provide a response to that report, and the Council of Trade Unions is getting increasingly agitated about that – let alone the actual lack of any FPAs being implemented. The CTU released a report at their annual conference this week, and they’re particularly interested in FPAs for cleaners, security workers and supermarket staff.

Fair Pay Agreements are strongly opposed by business groups. And some pretty harsh but fair commentary on that point came from Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan, who argued that it shows business have beaten the labour movement on the issue. Her point is that if it were going to happen, it would have by now, but with business confidence at such low levels the government can’t afford to upset that sector further.

She’s probably right too, if comments from Winston Peters are anything to go by. Interest reports the deputy PM told the CTU’s annual conference that they were hoping for too much, too fast. Stuff’s Luke Malpass got into both the attacks Peters made on unions for not striking under National, while also pointing out his own hatred of the neoliberal economic reforms of Rogernomics. As ever, NZ First will probably be the deciding voice on whether FPAs are put into place.

PM Ardern also said it was a matter of building consensus, and that FPAs remained on the agenda. A  progress update would be announced soon, she said. But an announcement of progress without anything concrete in place would likely go down badly with a union movement that has rediscovered the power to force concessions in the past several years, both in the private and public sectors. It may be that in trying to placate business, the government ends up alienating a vital potential ally going into election year.

Among the stories from the Christchurch mosque attack, those of the widows were the most heartbreaking. But now two are experiencing the country turning its back on them by denying them residency, reports Sara Vui-Talitu for Radio NZ. Neither of the two women were in the country at the time of the attacks, and the legislation that was passed in the aftermath doesn’t apply to them. One woman was only able to come to collect her husband’s body, and the other has recently given birth to a baby.

Another National figure could well be interested in the nomination for the Botany seat, reports Newshub. Agnes Loheni, a list MP with responsibility for the small business and Pacific peoples portfolios, is understood to also be interested in the spot. Loheni only entered parliament at the start of this year, replacing the retiring Chris Finlayson, and has previously stood for National in Māngere.

More big developments in the local TV business: Mediaworks is absolutely slashing back a range of local content, including NZ Today, MAFS NZ and 7 Days. Duncan Greive has analysed what it all means for both those involved with the shows, and the wider industry, with Mediaworks struggling to withstand the current high pressure commercial environment. Speaking of the world of telly, you should also read this by Trevor McKewen on the massive new rugby rights deal signed by Sky.

There’s been a big rise in the rate of population increase due to migration, reports Interest. Over the 12 months to August, there was an estimated net population gain from migration of just over 50,000 people, with about 11,000 more people arriving compared to the previous year. The largest sources of new arrivals are (in order) China, South Africa, India, the Philippines and Australia.

Hawke’s Bay is looking ahead to a potential future as a tech hotspot, reports HB Today (paywalled.) It’s something that certainly jumped out to me when I went through earlier in the year – there’s a mass of both startups and offices for established firms opening up, attracted by lower costs and strong quality of life. As this story points out too, with the expansion of fibre it just isn’t that necessary for such companies to be based in the big cities.

The weirdest subplot to the local election results has continued, with PM Jacinda Ardern saying she’ll apologise to ousted Wellington mayor Justin Lester. What does she have to apologise for? Stuff reported she described him as an independent – either forgetting or trying to distance the party from the fact that he clearly ran as a Labour candidate. For both Lester and Ardern, the whole incident is probably something they’d rather forget.

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A collection of Kiwibank chief economist, Jarrod Kerr’s, bizarre charts.

Right now on The Spinoff: Duncan Greive meets Jarrod Kerr, the maverick Kiwibank economist who forgot everything he learned when reality got in the way. Tara Wardgives a robust defence of Shortland St, our little soap that could. Alex Casey has all you need to know about the announcement of funding for free IUD long term contraception. Tony Burton looks at the current massive surplus, and how spending it might not be quite so easy for the government. Hannah McGowan looks at the complicated reality of the health benefits of cannabis.

And a few more local elections bits, because really, are you over them yet? I’m not. Hayden Donnell interviews Phil Goff about a bruising campaign for the mayoralty, and what comes next. Josie Adams does the same with Dunedin’s youthful new mayor Aaron Hawkins. And Angela Cuming writes about the remarkable cleanout of Hamilton City Council.

For a feature today, an absolutely wild long-read about the world of ticket scalping. The SB Nation piece is told from the point of view of someone who made a real living out of it for a few years, with a whole lot of dramatic setbacks along the way. The fact that it has been told at all breaks a rule the piece discusses about never revealing how the industry works. Here’s an excerpt:

The sun filtered through ash trees. I heard the crunch of boots in the underbrush. Georgia had just upped the penalty for scalping. They could charge me with resisting arrest, public endangerment, money laundering — and that was before they tacked on any ticket charges. I could go to prison.

Moses received the Ten Commandments on a mountain, but I met God in a forest. As far as I was concerned, the woods were a great place to reflect. I closed my eyes. I was scared. Not scared enough to go back to church, but enough to ask for an assist.

“Help get me out of this, if you’re listening,” I said under my breath.

In sport, it’s hard to know whether to give points for honesty here, or condemn the fact that few in high positions in rugby do speak out about this. New Zealand Rugby chairman Brett Impey went on Radio NZ yesterday and straight up admitted players with Pacific Island heritage were treated unfairly by clubs, and through eligibility rules. He says he’s not blaming the players themselves for their situation – rather he says it’s a case of them being locked out of the chance to compete on the world stage.

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