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Union bags NBR Rich List

With hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders living below the poverty line, there is no cause for celebration at the publication of the National Business Review Rich List, FIRST Union says.

The NBR’s annual publication, out this morning, reports an increase from 2012 of $3.5 billion in total minimum net worth among Rich Listers.

The union's comments come after Labour MP Andrew Little also raised the spectre of growing inequality in response to the Rich List.

“Back where the rest of us live, workers are faring much worse those at the top of the economic pile,” FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid says.

“There is a growing concern among New Zealanders about income inequality.  

"The Bryan Bruce child poverty documentary, Max Rashbrooke’s recently published book on inequality and the work of many community organisations on welfare reforms, housing and other issues has intensified the debate in recent years," he says.

“And we now have a Living Wage movement that is drawing attention to low wages in New Zealand, and what some of the solutions are.”

The union’s 46 member meetings across the country got under way this week.

Mr Reid says there has been a lot of discussion at them about low wages being one of the biggest drivers of poverty here.

“There is no excuse for families living in damp, cold houses and children going to school without food when New Zealand has more than enough collective resource to provide for its people," Mr Reid says.

“The top 1% owns three times as much wealth as the poorest 50%, and so while the Rich List is celebrated today among those on very high incomes, unions like ours will refuse to accept this inequality and continue to push for a more equal society."

The FIRST (Finance, Industrial, Retail, Stores & Transport) Union has about 27,000 members. It was created in 2011 when the National Distribution Union merged with bank workers' union Finsec. 

Comments and questions
14

The unions and Labour have done everything in their power to dumb down the country and remove initiative, so their comments now should not surprise anyone.

All politics of envy aside, current policies are resulting in an upward redistribution of wealth to the rich. On the other hand, the incomes of those from the middle range down are being systematically reduced. Surely the business community should be concerned about the continuous loss of buying power by NZ consumers.

Mr Reid should reflect on this German proverb:

"A poor person isn't he who has little, but he who needs a lot."

And there are an awful lot of people in NZ who not only need a lot, but seem to feel they are entitled, or have a right, to a lot without actually doing anything, or risking anything, to get it.

Mr Reid also mixes up wealth (net assets) with very high incomes. His reference to the widely discredited Bruce documentary are unfortunate. The poor in this country have never been better off than they are now.

This is superb.

Perhaps if the unions "paid their fair share" of taxes, Mr McCarten...

But surely this is nothing more than tall-poppy envy - because the vast majority of those on the Rich List will have achieved their success through hard work, initiative and risk taking.

How else does a tow truck driver and panel beater aged 16 become the wealthiest person in NZ? Certainly not listening to a union that wants you to pay them each week...

What would be interesting would be to see where each of the Rich Listers started. Obviously, the Todd family is inter-generational wealth but the man at the top got there completely under his own steam (the old tow truck driver to billionaire story). Likewise, John Key, who scraps in with 'only' $50m, is a self-made man. I'm sure many in the middle are, too.

A look back 10 years to see the falls from grace would also be interesting.

While the rich do tend to get richer (you do expect a return on your investment, after all), it is not necessary the case, and nor is being poor a trap.

"Self-made" - at the expense of... ???

It is sad to see that success is only measured by where you are on the Rich List, especially in an egalitarian (classless) society. What actual value does publishing a list like this contribute to society? It is not only this list but also the Forbes Rich list and similar.

Andrew little got paid big $ from deducting fees off the lowest-paid people... Go figure.

The poor wont be celebrating. You must be joking. Every policy to pull down the rich just makes the poor poorer.
We should all be on our knees thanking them for making it possible to provide a living to so many others.

The wealthy are a direct threat to unionists - they not only create and maintain jobs but provide an aspiration for those unwilling to remain union fodder.

"Collective resources"? ... what's yours is mine?

If you think being rich or financially wealthy makes you happy, dream on... it just buy stuff.

I have been poor and I have had money and I tell you which one I prefer..

Money may not make you happy but it certainly helps...