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National’s cynical attack on disabled workers

Written By: - Date published: 1:14 pm, October 10th, 2007 - 7 comments
Categories: workers' rights - Tags:

History tells us the Nats will use any excuse they can to undermine people’s work rights, but this is low even for them. Desperate for an angle to oppose the extension of minimum wage rights to disabled workers, National hit on an idea: argue that paying disabled workers the legal minimum is actually bad for them and is strongly opposed by their families. Better yet, quote the IHC in support of your position too. Here’s what National MP Paul Hutchison had to say on Friday:

“The effect of this legislation is to ensure people with disabilities are paid the minimum wage, but this is impossible for many non-profit IHC businesses.

“The legislation allows workers who are significantly limited in their work because of a disability to be issued with a minimum wage exemption, but the IHC is not supporting this.

Dr Hutchison cites the example of Taupo Ironing, an IHC-run business which has been severely affected by the legislation…

“It is going to cause widespread distress for many families.”

But the IHC’s release yesterday tells a different story:

IHC New Zealand strongly supports the repeal of Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (DPEP) Act because it gives workers with intellectual disabilities equal rights in the workplace.

IHC’s Director of Advocacy Trish Grant says that IHC supports inclusive workplaces. “The sheltered workshops of old saw people with intellectual disabilities kept separate from communities.”

“IHC Advocacy has talked to thousands of people with intellectual disabilities and their families, and they have told us consistently that they want opportunities for real work and they want real pay for the work they do.”

So let’s get this straight: not only did National get completely the wrong end of the stick, they also misrepresented the IHC’s position in order to further their own political agenda. Did National even bother talking to the IHC or the families of disabled workers before deciding to use them to score political points?

This kind of behaviour comes across as more than a little cynical, and gives the impression of a party more interested in helping its wealthy backers to employ cheap labour than it is in protecting the rights of disabled workers.

Because if National aren’t acting for disabled workers and their families on this issue, who exactly are they acting for?

7 comments on “National’s cynical attack on disabled workers ”

  1. all_your_base 1

    That’s f*&#ing disgraceful. I hope they’re ashamed.

  2. Robinson 2

    Yeah the nats voted against removing youth rates as well – I’m glad to see they’re consistent in their fight for people’s freedom to work for as low a wage as they want.

  3. Sam Dixon 3

    “Did National even bother talking to the IHC or the families of disabled workers before deciding to use them to score political points?”

    why do you need to talk to experts when you know you’re right?

    Its part of this typical arrogance from the right – ask the experts? no! they’re all liberal loonies. Just last night, I saw Roger Kerr at a BizRoundtable forum answering a question on the role of public policy in tackling climate change, after some opening blah, blah he, inevitably, said ‘we have to ask how solid the science is..’ people in the audience actually sighed and others laughed. Who does this prick think he is? 15 years after the frameowrk convention on climate change, 15 years of ever more dire IPCC reports and this born to rule bastard feels he can throw that all aside if it doesn’t fit his ideology.

    Sorry, bit of point but its the same mentality over disabled workers’ wages, National hates higher pay for workers, so it makes up this stupid story about IHC and disabled people not wanting decent pay and doesn’t actually askanyone.

  4. Shane 4

    This a shocker and just one example of National attacking worker’s rights.
    A tax cut under National is no good to me if they are attacking my work rights at the same time.
    Makes me laugh when they highlight how many Kiwis are moving to Australia for better wages. Their employment policy will simply exacerbate the problem.

  5. Nih 5

    You have to admit, it’s a much softer stance than Redbaiter and his national-supporting mate Adolph Finkelstein wanting to gas them.

  6. Thomas 6

    that was really funny

  7. Benodic 7

    What I want to know is why Labour didn’t pounce on this and show National’s disgraceful attack for what it was. National’s record on this kind of thing is shocking, but they never get pulled up on it. Why is that?

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