Labour's biggest problem going into this year's election isn't what's been identified by Shane Jones, the man who before the last election unsuccessfully tried to become the party's leader, missing out to David Cunliffe.

Jones, who's now formally joined forces to become what he says is a union with Winston Peters in the far north, believes the hook up with The Greens has diminished Labour's brand.

The biggest problem for Labour is the trade unions and the influence they're able to exert on who's the party's leader, given to them just five years ago. Andrew Little's there simply because the unions want him there.

It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with trade unions, many of us can thank them for the working conditions we have today. It's just their political influence takes away the ability of the caucus to chose who they want to daily lead them, and those at the pitface of politics know better.


And for Labour, anything they announce that benefits trade unions is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as being done to feather their beds.

Take Labour industrial relations policy which to most of us would seem reasonable. They're keeping the 90 day probationary period for workers, that they railed against for so long. But they're setting up a mediation service which will have the power to reinstate a worker if they've been unjustifiably dismissed.

Surely that makes sense. It'll make employers think twice about taking someone on without any intention of offering them long term employment and getting rid of them at will and without reason.

The Nat's Steven Joyce says it effectively does away with the whole concept of a trial period which is nonsense. It simply does away with exploitative employers.

Labour's also talking about Fair Pay Agreements, which lays out basic pay and working conditions for an industry. It comes on the back of a successful legal challenge taken by a union on behalf of a worker that today sees fifty five thousand healthcare workers getting pay rises of between 15 and 50 percent.

It also comes after the Government realised it'd lost the case but is now presenting itself an the industry's saviour.

The plan to extend it to other poorly paid industries has drawn an attack from employers. The Government could hardly do it, considering it's now claiming the healthcare worker settlement as their own, describing it as landmark.

The employers say there'll be less flexibility for companies to innovate and pay productive workers more, a claim which is just plain silly.