[Marxism] The times we live in...

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Fri Dec 24 16:46:20 MST 2004

Just reading the New Zealand Herald, my eye caught this item:

Trendy, high-tech Roman Catholics won't have to sit at home this Christmas 
to watch the Pope's Christmas Midnight Mass on television. They can watch 
the whole thing from wherever they are on the latest generation of cell 
phones. Italian state broadcaster RAI said on Thursday it has reached an 
agreement with cell phone operators TIM and Vodafone to broadcast the 
84-year-old Pontiff's Midnight Mass from the Vatican on
December 24 as well as his Christmas Day message and blessing at 1100 GMT on 

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, another controversy is bubbling...

The Council of Trade Unions accused the Restaurant Association of 
"profiteering" and misusing the new Holidays Act by urging members to add a 
20 per cent surcharge on Christmas holidays. Many cafes and restaurants only 
stayed open on public holidays because they did exceptional business, 
Combined Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said. "New Zealanders clearly 
don't mind a small surcharge as the price of cafe staff getting the 
rate-and-a-half (from) the Holidays Act. "But the Restaurant Association is 
now getting into profiteering." The Restaurant Association claimed the 
Holidays Act, which also requires staff who work on public holidays to get a 
day off in lieu, imposes unreasonable demands on food businesses that stay 

(The NZ Holidays Act overrides the Employment Contracts Act, which mandates 
at least three weeks leave a year). Don Brash, former neoliberal governor of 
the NZ Reserve Bank, and now National Party leader, weighs in with a 
"The new Holidays Act (...) means that employers must pay staff a minimum of 
time-and-a-half for work on a public holiday, as well as offering a day in 
lieu. In other words, the rate is double time-and-a-half. (...) According to 
the Restaurant Association, about 30% of restaurants and cafes which 
normally would have opened on Good Friday or Easter Monday stayed closed. 
Approximately another 20% intended to stay open, but operate with fewer 
staff. Virtually all of those that did open introduced surcharges to cover 
their costs, generally at around the 15% mark. Thus, the immediate effect of 
the legislation was a substantial reduction in employment over that 
weekend." http://www.national.org.nz/don_brash_article.aspx?ArticleID=1942

Deary me. A substantial reduction of employment over a weekend! The idea 
being that the workers are pricing themselves out of jobs. When he was 
Governor of the Reserve Bank, Brash himself was earning a cool NZ$496,500 a 
year in salary alone. http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2000/0097194.html (that's 
a bit over US$350,000). On that sort of salary you can eat out every night, 
even if all the restaurants are shut. Among the first jobs I worked at as a 
youth was dishwasher and kitchenhand, and I'll say this, it was hard slog 
and no real pauses for a modest wage. You needed that time off, to recover.

Well, I won't bore you with the math of all this, but it's clear that, even 
if we supposed that Marx's wages theory is completely wrong, employers are 
nevertheless very concerned about even rather minute quantities of paid 
human work... even on a Xmas night. Funny that, eh.


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