Iain Lees-Galloway's learnt his lesson, although the lesson's still to be played out in the months ahead over whether Karel Sroubek will be successful in his bid to overturn his off-again-on again deportation order when he finally gets out of jail for drug smuggling.

But at least the minister gave a pretty good indication that he'd read the Fair Pay Agreement working group's report when he fronted it with the group's chairman, the great Helmsman Jim Bolger.

The T-shirt Lees-Galloway was wearing at his caucus retreat the day before at a spa resort in Martinborough, declaring "I'm the Boss guy," shows he still has a lot to learn when it comes to the subtlety of politics and knowing your place.


There was no doubt who was the boss guy when he was confronted by Bolger.

Lees-Galloway was banging away about the expectation on this Government that they do things carefully and thoughtfully (in his case hopefully more carefully than he did things last year) and to keep business and the unions at the table so he was reluctant to put a time frame on carrying out what the group had recommended.

The 83-year-old Bolger chipped in telling him that having done all the work he'd like to see things advanced rather than the report gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. Giggling nervously, the Labour Minister said there was no fear of that.

But there has to be quite a lot of electoral fear for Labour about one of the report's key recommendations: compulsory industry-wide fair pay agreements, where for example a barista in Auckland would have to be paid at the same rate as one churning out coffee in Mataura.

It's the compulsion, without an opt-out clause, that's upset employers.

Bolger's the man who broke the back of the unions in the nasty 90s with his Employment Contracts Act - but now he's being accused of making their feather beds with his fair pay ideas.

He urged his former colleagues to respond with calmness and reflect on the proposed changes and accept the world's a changing place.

The reflection took a matter of minutes before National declared it as democratically offensive that a relatively small group of workers can trigger mandatory, nationwide employment negotiations.


Behind the scenes National's seething, viewing Bolger (who led them for seven years as prime minister) little more than an Uncle Tom.

It's true Bolger's been Labour's go-to man in a number of areas since he was stabbed in the back by Jenny Shipley, like when he was heading NZ Post and Kiwibank that his party in opposition fought against tooth and nail.

But in fairness any work he does on behalf of this coalition Government's unlikely to curry favour with his now snippy former colleagues in National.

And whether his report makes it off the shelf and into legislation will to a large extent depend on his old fair-weather friend... Winston Peters.