John Key let the mask slip yesterday – as he said that we needed immigrant labour even for unskilled work because of the work ethic and drug use of New Zealand workers. That’s how he sees normal Kiwis, struggling to get ahead in his economy. Much like Bill English’s ‘pretty damn hopeless‘.
As Richard Wagstaff of the CTU has said – it is unfair to compare NZ workers who have to live here year-round, often maintain a family, and have stand-down periods etc, with migrant labour that is effectively bonded to their employer for their time they are here, and often starting in debt to them. Often what is needed to attract NZ labour is better pay and conditions, but immigrant labour is a cheap and easy subsidy to employers. It may be causing big infrastructure problems having a record 69,000 coming in over the last year, and an overheated Auckland housing market (average price: $1 million) but it saves the government having to make sure that Kiwis get the right skills, and it stops their party donors complaining about rising wage bills.
The guys at Nice Blocks can pay $20+/hour (Living Wage now $19.80) to juice oranges. Perhaps this is a clue to what is needed in other low-skill jobs. Because at the moment our big numbers of immigrants are for Dairy cattle farmers & workers, Cafe/restaurant managers, Retail managers & supervisors, Aged or disabled carers and Truck drivers – and you got to think with 5-6% unemployment, we’ve got the people to do those jobs if you actually pay properly.
But when you hear ‘Kiwis are too lazy to work’, perhaps decode it as ‘Kiwis aren’t going to waste their lives going backwards financially working for those pay & conditions’.