OK, the previous post on this wasn't the last one after all. The activities of DPF, Whaleoil and Cactus Kate in running propaganda for the employer in the Port of Auckland dispute makes an interesting study and is worth posting about.
Their efforts have concentrated on promoting PoA's figure of $91,000 as the average "remuneration" for MUNZ members. It's a potentially risky line to take, as the amount the wharfies earn is completely irrelevant to the dispute and it invites comparison with the ridiculously inflated sums issued to the directors and CEO, but it serves two propaganda purposes that are very useful to the employer: it assists with forming a public impression of the workers involved as being overpaid and therefore greedy; and it assists with forming a public impression that the dispute is about money rather than casualisation of the workforce.
The figure itself is one I described in an earlier post as part of a list of "artful deceptions." It's worth having a look at how it's a deception and how that deception serves a propaganda purpose. NB: "deception" for propaganda purposes is not necessarily the same thing as "lie." To a great extent, propaganda is about carefully presenting factually correct information in such a way as to lead people to form opinions based on false assumptions. We're talking here about that kind of "deception."
The first thing to note is that the figure is an average, not a median. Anne Tolley used this scam quite effectively for propaganda purposes as well, with the claim that the average teacher earns $71,000. Here's the scam: most people are used to thinking of averages in terms of a normal distribution, a bell curve - ie about half the set will be below average and half above average. However, averages are easily skewed by a few outliers. For example, if you have a group of five workers, four of whom are on $50,000 a year and one on $100,000, the average income is $60,000 - however, most of the group earn well below the average. The median of $50,000 would be a more useful figure, but using the average makes the workers sound better paid than they actually are, hence PoAL issuing an average figure.
The next deception is issuing a figure for "remuneration," rather than wages. Most people are used to thinking of their income in terms of their wages or salary rather than "total remuneration." Many of us benefit from employer superannuation contributions, subsidised medical insurance etc but don't take it into account when we think about what our wage or salary is. The scam here is that people will assume the figure of $91,000 reflects wharfies' wages and falsely compare it to their own wage or salary.
The last one is including overtime payments in the calculation. Again, most people think of their income in terms of their base wages or salary, with overtime being extra, so the scam is to include the average overtime paid in the figure of $91,000 and most people will falsely compare it to their own base rate or salary.
It's a simple trick. The employers' volunteer propagandists promote the figure of $91,000 as a typical MUNZ member's income. You look at the figure, assume it represents the median base wage for those employees because that's how you're used to thinking about your own income, and conclude that those guys are paid way more than you are so must be very greedy if they're going on strike for more money (which is another artful deception, but that's for another post). Working out that it's a deception requires applying some thought to it, which means the scam is a fairly safe one to run.
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