Previous seminars

Access information and downloadable resources from previous seminars.


CLEW 50th Anniversary Seminar

CLEW celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 2021 with a seminar that included key players in the employment relations area in New Zealand. The seminar focused on a key question in 2021 - Is it time to reset our Employment Relations systems? The seminar, held on 14 April 2021, was originally planned for April 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

The programme included an opening address from the Hon Michael Woods, Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety; Professor Gordon Anderson on 'Rethinking the legislative Architecture' for employment relations; and Professor David Peetz from Griffith University in Queensland looked at the role of collective bargaining and unions and assessed if they were still an effective too for determining wages, hours and conditions.  The discussants of these papers represented the broad range of players in the employment relations field - Chief Judge Christina Inglis of the Employment Court of NZ; Peter Cranney, prominent Wellington employment lawyer who has led a number of ground-breaking legal cases; John Ryall formerly from E tu, the largest private sector union; Kerry Davies, General Secretary of New Zealand's largest public sector union, the Public Service Association; Judy Dell, the Principal Mediator; Paul Mackay from Business New Zealand; Melissa Ansell-Bridges from the NZCTU; and Dr Rose Ryan from MBIE.

The keynote papers for each session are included below along with Chief Judge Inglis's paper.


Two seminars—one day

On Thursday 14 November 2019, the Centre for Labour, Employment, and Work (CLEW) and Massey People, Organisation, Work, and Employment Research Group (MPOWER) jointly presented two important seminars.

Seminar 1—Gender Equity in the Public Services: The Trans-Tasman Experience


Dr Sue Williamson, University of New South Wales, Canberra.
Dr Noelle Donnelly, CLEW, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.
Professor Jane Parker, MPOWER, Massey University, Auckland.

Setting the agenda for gender equity has become a national priority for many countries. While reports point towards some improvements, significant challenges remain in implementing and embedding gender initiatives at workplace levels. This seminar reports on the challenges and obstacles Australian and New Zealand managers face in implementing gender equity initiatives in their workplaces.

A panel of three industry experts discussed with Chairperson, Professor Jane Parker, their thoughts and experiences in addressing the obstacles to addressing gender disparities in the public service. The panel comprised:

Suzanne Stew, Deputy Chief Executive of Market Services, MBIE.
Rachel Mackintosh, Vice President, NZ Council of Trade Unions.
Allana Coulon, Managing Director, MartinJenkins.

Seminar 2—Working Life in New Zealand: The Big Issues

Presenters and topics:

Professor Jane Parker, MPOWER, ‘New Zealand Working Life Profile’.
Professor Jim Arrowsmith, MPOWER, ‘The Living Wage in New Zealand’.
Dr Stephen Blumenfeld, CLEW, ‘Fair Pay Agreements’.
Dr Rose Ryan, MBIE, Discussant.

Working life in NZ is in transition, reflecting recent and imminent regulatory, policy and workplace changes. In this seminar, academic and government representatives discussed research and developments in our working life, with specific reference to fair pay agreements/collective agreements and the Living Wage.

A Danish fairy tale? How a high wage, high skill and highly productive economy works

Presenter: Erling Rasmussen, Professor of Work and Employment, AUT, 23 May (presentation available below).

This presentation reflected on the international interest in Denmark, with a special attention to economic and labour market developments. Professor Rasmussen discussed how Danish design, art, film and the famous concept of ‘hygge’ have caught the attention of the international media and trend spotters. Likewise, the prominent scores in many economic, social and well-being statistics have increased international interest in unlocking the ‘secrets’ of this apparently very successful country.

Professor Rasmussen showed that not only is Denmark well placed in international statistics, but the Danish economy has had a great run since the late 1970s when it – like New Zealand – was reeling from international contextual changes. The so-called ‘Danish Model’ has been lauded by international organisations (OECD, EU and ILO) for its dynamic and flexible adjustments towards a knowledge economy. It is also associated with a ‘Danish Model’ of employment relations and Professor Rasmussen highlighted some of the hallmarks of this employment relations approach. In particular, he talked about the importance of ‘flexicurity’, collaborations between employer associations and unions, employee participation structures and extensive retraining/upskilling measures.

The dark side of deeply meaningful work: work‐relationship turmoil and the value of valuing a partner's work

Presenter: Carrie Oelberger, Assistant Professor of Management, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 17 May (presentation available below).

How are close personal relationships experienced by people in deeply meaningful work? Drawing upon in‐depth interview data with 82 international aid workers, Professor Oelberger will share three distinct contributions from her research. First, she finds that people who experience their work as deeply meaningful participate more willingly in overwork and erratic work, which gives rise to time‐ and trust‐based conflict in their relationships. She suggests that this happens because their work-relationship boundaries are inhibited by a strong devotion to work. Second, she finds that people with high work devotion often also experience emotional distance in their personal relationships when their close others don’t value their work. This disconnection‐based conflict compounds the time‐ and trust‐based conflict and engenders an emotionally agonizing situation, which she calls work‐relationship turmoil. Third, when close others do value their partner’s work it fosters an emotional connection and offers an avenue for work‐relationship enrichment. The findings draw upon a context of deeply meaningful work to detail the multi‐faceted work‐relationship experience among those with high work devotion.

Future work—a just transition in the face of climate change

Presenter: Samantha Smith, Director, Just Transition Centre, 7 May (there were no powerpoint presentations for this seminar).

There has been a lot of discussion on the future of work in relation to the digital transformation but what of the impact of climate change on work? Climate change and policies to alleviate it are set to have major impacts on all industries and hence the economy. But some areas will be more impacted than others and hence some parts of the population whether it be the type of work they do or where they live. So how do we ensure that the burden of the changes to a low carbon/low emissions economy is shared evenly across our population? How do we ensure a Just Transition to our future?

Samantha (Sam) Smith visited New Zealand to present at the 'Just Transition Summit' held in New Plymouth. In her presentation Sam discussed examples of Just Transition so far, primarily from Europe and North America. She will focused on three questions: What about workers; what about communities; and what about the “hard” sectors, that are central to local economies?

Following on from Sam’s presentation, a panel of experts in this area will discuss the topic further from a range of perspectives:

Robyn Henderson, Manager in the Economic Development and Transitions Branch, MBIE
Jonathan Boston, Professor in the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington
Patrick McVeigh, Lead – People and Places, MartinJenkins
Sam Huggard, Secretary, NZ Council of Trade Unions

The state of the UK trade union movement and building a union movement for young workers.

Presenter: Carl Roper, National Organiser, Trade Union Congress, Friday 29 March.

Unions around the world have had declining membership over the last 30 years. But there are signs that this may be turning around as new campaigns and recruitment strategies have been developed. But is the relative ageing of the trade union membership inevitable? How do young people connect with and join unions especially when they are in ‘precarious’ ‘non-standard’ work arrangements?

In his roles as National Organiser Carl is leading the TUC’s work on organising and recruitment. This work includes responsibility for the development and content of the TUC Organising Academy, providing support to unions on union organising strategies and running the TUC’s Leading Change Programme for senior union officers. Most recently, Carl has been working on the TUC’s ‘Reaching Out to Britain’s Young Core Workers’ project which is developing new ways of organising young workers.

Carl Roper is in New Zealand at the invitation of the NZ Council of Trade Unions who have supported CLEW in the presentation of this seminar.

Why do we need industrial/employment relations systems in the 21st century?

Held on Tuesday 19 March.

Professor Christian Welz, Senior Research Manager, Working Life, Eurofound—A European perspective on industrial/employment relations systems—what can they achieve and how do they work.

Dr Stephen Blumenfeld, Director, Centre for Labour, Employment and Work—The NZ Industrial/Employment Relations systems—how well are they working and how will Fair Pay agreements fit with current systems.

Chairperson/Facilitator: Professor Jim Arrowsmith, Co-director, MPOWER, Massey University.

Discussant panel:

John Ryall, Assistant Secretary, E tῡ
Paul Mackay, Manager Employment Relations Policy, Business NZ
Steph Dhyrberg, Partner, Dhyrberg Drayton Employment Law



Who benefits from productivity growth? The share of national income going to labour in New Zealand

Held Tuesday, 24 April 2018, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington.

At this event organised jointly between CLEW and the Productivity Commission, speakers outlined recent research on the how the share of national income going to labour has changed in New Zealand. The excellent and informative presentations were followed by a discussion with the more than 100 people from across the Wellington's research and policy network combined with academics and trade union officials.

The presentations from our three speakers can be downloaded below:

Huon Fraser, New Zealand Productivity Commission
Dr Bill Rosenberg, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Paul Conway, New Zealand Productivity Commission

Transforming workplace relations—learning from the past and looking to the future

Held Thursday 1 March 2018, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington.

This seminar was based on the book edited by Gordon Anderson Transforming Workplace Relations in New Zealand 1976–2016 (Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2017). In this book a wide range of academic commentators reflect on the revolution in labour relations and speculate on the future of work relationships in a world again being challenged by newly evolving forms of work and employment.

Bullying and violence in the workplace—intervention and prevention

Held 19 February 2018, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington.

The seminar explored recent New Zealand and progressive approaches in Europe in dealing with negative workplace behaviours.

Andrea Fromm, from the policy and research team at the NZ Public Service Association (PSA), summarised the findings of the Eurofound (The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) report from 2015 entitled ‘Violence and harassment in European workplaces: Extent, impacts and policies’.

Dr Geoff Plimmer and Hamish Crimp discussed the interventions to address workplace bullying,focusing in particular on the public sector responses. Their discussion was based on research lead by Geoff, in partnership with the PSA, on 'Workplace dynamics in the New Zealand public service' and Hamish's masters thesis 'Insights into Effective Interventions for the Prevention and Management of Workplace Bullying in the New Zealand Public Service'.

Achieving pay equity—principles to practice

Held 21 April 2017, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington.

The issues for Pay Equity raised in the ‘Terranova’ case and the subsequent Working Group considerations and report have highlighted the issues around equal pay and pay equity. Recently published research has also shown the extent of the issue in New Zealand. This seminar explored the the Working Group's report and its aftermath, through the research and what programmes and policies might be required in workplaces to address the issues.

Presentations from the seminar are only available to attendees. A report was published in the June 2017 edition of CLEW'd IN and is attached below.