Reprinted from No Right Turn:
Back in September last year, South Canterbury Finance went under due to mismanagement. Its investors were bailed out, no questions asked, despite the fact that it was in violation of its government guarantee or that some of those investors had got in solely in the expectation of such a bailout. Total cost: $1.6 billion.
This week, some of New Zealand’s lowest-paid workers won a case in the Court of Appeal upholding their right to be paid the minimum wage (rather than a paltry “allowance”) when working overnight shifts. This looks set to cost the government a lot of money, as those workers indirectly work for them. If they want such overnight care services, they are going to have to pay more for them in future. And if they want those services to be available, they are going to have to stump up the cash for backpay for those affected (otherwise the providers will go out of business, and they won’t have anyone to subcontract to). The total cost looks set to be $560 million. The government’s response? Threaten a law change to rob these people of their wages and allow them to continue to be underpaid.
You couldn’t get a starker reminder of this government’s priorities – or of who it cares about. When the rich get into trouble through their own greed and stupidity, National shovels money at them. When the poor succeed in proving that they are entitled to a decent wage, the government refuses to pay and conspires to take it off them.