The Herald opines:
It will not be easy to take the Labour Party seriously at this election if it comes up with any more policy like the one announced on Tuesday. To lift the level of wages in this country it proposes industry-wide wage orders. When a union finds that some employers in an industry are paying less than others the union will be able to apply to a Workplace Commission for a minimum wage order.
The party clearly believes the minimum would be set at the higher rate. Maybe it would, if the commission Labour set up was of like mind to the trade unions that probably fed this policy to the party. But if the commissioners were economic realists they would hesitate to impose a one-size-fits-all regime on any competitive sector.
The Labour Party would surely hesitate to propose this if there was much prospect of the party winning the election and having to put the policy into effect. Like one or two other planks in the party's platform this year - notably the removal of GST on fresh fruit and vegetables - the policy is mainly interesting for what it says about Labour's condition at present and how much younger members of the caucus have to learn.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If living standards were determined by government decree, Labour's new industrial relations policy would be a breakthrough contribution to an age-old debate.
Sadly for the low-paid workers Phil Goff's party is trying to woo, wishful thinking has nothing to do with living standards.
The consequence of hiking the minimum wage from $13 to $15 an hour, as Labour is proposing to do, will be to deny more unskilled young job seekers the opportunity to get a foot on the job ladder. The consequence of telling international film producers it is our way or the highway will be for them to pack their bags. And the consequence of requiring all employers in an industry to offer the same minimum set of terms and conditions will be to ship more jobs off overseas.
The only winners from Labour's work and wages policy, unveiled on Tuesday, will be unions, which can expect a temporary increase in members and influence.
And The Press opines:
The Labour Party claims its work and wages policy, which it released this week, will boost the country's economic performance and generally provide a better future for workers. That is very unlikely. The policy's strange mish-mash of bureaucratic centralised wage-setting, legislated higher minimum pay and repeal of some of the present Government's liberalising workplace reforms has gruesome echoes of the unlovely 1970s. Far from being a forward-looking policy, as the Labour leader, Phil Goff, has declared it to be, it recalls policies long thought dead and buried.
The policy has been welcomed by unions, as well it might be. It could well have been written by them. The 1970s were the unions' heyday and with this policy they no doubt see some chance of restoring some of their lost glories.
We've already expressed our opinion on the central plank of this policy; an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour. It would seem that we are not alone in our concern.
It's telling that Newstalk ZB's political reporter Felix Marwick tweeted on Tuesday that he had received the policy from a union before he received it from Labour. It would seem that the unions were the authors.