Remember how our government decided to promise investors an 8% return on any speculative monies placed with the failing Southern Canterbury Finance? And remember how after taking any remnant of speculation out of any speculative investment, they then took $1 700 000 000 of our money and gave it to the aforementioned speculators as way of compensation?
Well, now it has come to light that thousands of care givers have been denied compensation for turning up to work. It seems that if you are a caregiver then there was a culture among employers to the effect that ‘a fair days pay for a fair day’s work’ applied to daylight hours only. Outside of daylight hours, hourly rates transmogrified into $34 allowances. In any other field of employment, night shift would attract an allowance on top of an hourly rate of pay. Not an allowance instead of an hourly rate.
Anyway,it appears that the Employment Court agrees that being at work should mean getting paid for being at work. Which has led two IHC companies to scramble to the government seeking (and getting) mandatory management. See, they are claiming that they cannot afford to pay workers. No big deal. The companies are government funded. And so all the government need do is increase funding levels so that employees get paid for being at work. Simple. It is reckoned that back wages to our care givers, people who look after society’s most vulnerable and who may one day look after you or me will cost us $400 000 000.
That’s less than a quarter of the amount of our money that was given away to SCF investors. Call me heartless, but I didn’t have a cents worth of sympathy for people who dabbled in a financial culture that demanded they think only of themselves. But regardless, I got to give them $380, along with every other man, woman and child in New Zealand.
Now, in the case of workers who are generally highly regarded, I’d expect our money to be used to right any wrongs done to them. And I’d imagine that most people would have absolutely no qualms about the Government using our money to give back to these workers what was ripped off from them.
What’s more, the six year limitation on back pay would equate to about $100 000 for a person on or near minimum wage who had worked an average of three night shifts per week over that period. And on one shift a week we are looking at roughly $30 000. Which means we are looking at between 4000 and 12 000 low paid employees receiving, in some cases quite substantial sums of money. Which surely constitutes something of a stimulus for NZ’s beleaguered economy?
We don’t always get a bonus for doing the proper and legal thing, but here we have a situation where an incidental stimulus of $400 000 000 would be perfectly targeted at low income earners. And it would be spread more or less evenly over the entirety of New Zealand as a ratio of population density. Which is surely why Health Minister Tony Ryall, presumably quite happily, remarked that there were “very significant implications” for the economy as a whole.
But no, ‘fraid not.
The Government is appealing the Employment Court ruling and “Tony Ryall has ruled out a Government bailout of disability services(…) and “…said the Government was not liable for the backpay and would not pay it.”
So I guess this Government reckons it’s just plain wrong for workers to get paid an hourly rate while at work.
Meanwhile, in response to my question as to whether we are facing a case of IHG (Intellectually Handicapped Governance)?
The answer is, no. We’re not.
A Government doesn’t get to hide behind human frailties such as mental retardation as reasons or excuses for its actions.
A Government is quite simply a mirror of the ideologies it pursues. And this Government, in tune with the preferred ideologies of it’s ministers, exhibits all the hallmarks of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. Any doubts anyone might have been harbouring on that front are surely vanquished as a result of the simple exercise of comparing and contrasting the approach taken to SCF investors on the one hand, and the approach taken to our society’s caregivers on the other.