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Slavery Days

Written By: - Date published: 8:59 am, December 18th, 2018 - 62 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, Economy - Tags: , ,

News that a Hawkes Bay man, Viliamu Samu, AKA Joseph Matamata, has been charged with human trafficking and slavery should come as no surprise to fruit industry owners.

I’ve talked to pack house operators who have moaned about having to pay the minimum wage to labour imported from overseas. Workers from Solomon Islands and the various Pacific Island nations would happily work for less, they tell me. They’d even work through breaks, if it wasn’t illegal.

The horticultural industry is heavily reliant on physical labour. Wages are one of the few costs a business has any direct control over. You can’t tell the power company what to charge, but you can set the pay rates. If Viliamu Samu was ripping thousands of workers off over nearly three decades, then the local industry is complicit in the crime. It cannot be possible that the people who used labour he supplied didn’t realise that there was an issue.

The slavery charges carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

“This is a new low for New Zealand. To be charged with a number of victims and the combination of slavery and people trafficking, I would represent it as a new low,” Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Devoy told media.

The problem is that it is not new at all. Exploitation of workers in the Hawkes Bay has been rife for many, many years and is the region’s dirty little secret. And it’s no coincidence that the alleged slavery happened in the years since neo liberalism first raised it’s ugly head.

Slavery is not an unintended consequence of loosening the labour laws, it’s it’s logical conclusion.

Still, all of us can help. I raised a complaint against a Hastings business owner some five years ago. I was told he was ripping workers off, managed to find some evidence of it, and I pestered MBIE and INZ about the situation.

Happily, Jag Rawat, the businessman concerned, finally got his comeuppance this year. He was fined, lost his BP franchise and hopefully is no longer in a position to exploit workers.

The big question over this weeks slavery charges is not what will happen to Mr Samu. It’s whether the horticultural industry in the Hawkes Bay will fess up to it’s own involvement in exploitation.

Turning a blind eye should be seen as equally criminal.


62 comments on “Slavery Days”

  1. ianmac 1

    Seems incredible that this chap can operate for about 20 years without being noticed? Surely when his team appeared for a contract the orchardists must have noticed something. And what sort of system do we run or is it another National system of self regulation like WOF?

    • SaveNZ 1.1

      Wouldn’t immigration be expected to have noticed something as it’s their job, assuming he applied for visas for them, although maybe you don’t need visas anymore and our gates are open for illegal workers here to flourish and put into trafficking gangs or work as stand alone operators?

      Saying that, sounds like you get to get onto give-a-little to actually have the department do their job.


  2. Yep. These exploiters, and the people that ignore the truth of where their cheap labour comes from, are the lowest – I’d prosecute their arses off and take all their precious money.

    However it is really us, the consumer, who is to blame. We consume and demand and whine when not happy and the capitalist system delivers and we pretend we are unimplicated. But we are implicated imo.

  3. Ed 3

    Excellent post te reo putake. Thank you.

  4. Ross 4

    I would’ve thought the Labour Inspectorate would be doing regular checks of orchards. Maybe not.

    • patricia bremner 4.1

      How do you think they are getting caught NOW!! More inspectors and checks and registering the employers now will make it easier to spot anomalies.

      • Wayne 4.1.1

        Are there really way more inspectors than 12 months ago?
        I suspects charges of slavery would only be possible if there has been an extensive investigation that has ongoing for many months, if not longer.
        In short I can’t imagine it is related to the change of government.

      • Ross 4.1.2


        This character has allegedly been operating here since the early 1990s. It’s taken an awfully long time to charge him if he’s been breaking the law for many years.

    • Tricledrown 4.2

      No where enough inspectors to do a decent job National Party standard tactics. Whether fishing farming or factories National talk tuff but in reality that’s all they ever bully boss’s slavery wage theft just brushed under the carpet occasionaly the odd prosecution from a grossly under funded dysfunctional labour inspectorate. But boy they can spy on any critics of the govt.

    • RedLogix 5.1

      Same here. This is exactly the kind of shit the left needs to expose. Great post trp, and clear thinking through it’s implications.

      The conundrum for the growers of course is that they’re competing with low cost labour in other countries; we can’t neglect that aspect of the problem either.

      Again a local problem with global implications.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1

        The conundrum for the growers of course is that they’re competing with low cost labour in other countries; we can’t neglect that aspect of the problem either.

        Under free-market guidelines – yes we can. In fact we’re supposed to.

        In reality we actually need some way to enforce the same rules in all countries to ensure that the minimum wage is the same, that working conditions are the same, that everyone has access to the same healthcare, etcetera, etcetera. And. most importantly, that every country uses the same algorithm based upon actual trade weightings to set their currency’s exchange rate.

        These things are never going to happen unless we get the UN to be more than a debating society that sets international laws that countries routinely ignore.

        Or we could set our own laws as a set of standards that other nations have to meet before we trade with them and drop all the FTAs, WTO and a few other things that we’ve signed. This may induce a Race to the Top rather than the Race to the Bottom that we have now.

        • RedLogix

          That’s exactly what WILL work. The hard yards of having a realistic goal (equality of opportunity and standards globally) and then negotiating our way towards it.

          Maybe we’ll never get there, but we can move in that direction.

          See I don’t always reflexively disagree with you. 🙂

          • Mark

            The conundrum for the growers of course is that they’re competing with low cost labour in other countries;

            There’s not a lot we can do about that. To say that emerging countries can simply afford to pay the same as countries in wealthy countries is ridiculous.

            Someone working in MacDonalds in NZ probably makes as much as professional accountant or engineer in say Nigeria or India.

            What is important is this: is the wage that a worker say in China is on adequate for a reasonable existence in that country. Sometimes it may not be. Most of the time it is. And as productivity moves up the value chain and technological competence improves wages will likewise rise, as is already happening.

            So for people in the West to suddenly demand that developing countries pay the same wages as those in the West is utterly absurd, that would deny these countries the chance of ever getting on the escalator to increasing wealth and development.

            However there is another solution. Simply the West offers to develop poor countries and provide them with the infrastructure and know-how for free. That would help to equalise the state of affairs, and would be just recompense for centuries of exploitation of non-Western peoples by the West.

            • RedLogix

              and would be just recompense for centuries of exploitation of non-Western peoples.

              OK fair enough; but then what recompense should Western countries demand for the benefits of say:

              The notion of equality before the law
              The idea of individual rights and sovereignty
              The development of common law that applies to all
              The notion of freedom of expression
              The right to hold our leaders to democratic account
              The virtual elimination of absolute poverty
              A dramatic drop in violence and crime in historic terms
              The end of famines and mass epidemics
              The end of chattel slavery
              The right for women to participate in life as equals
              The expansion of human rights to include everyone
              The scientific method
              Clean water and sanitation
              Medical science doubling life spans
              Thermodynamics and efficient heat engines
              The laws of electricity, gravity and mechanics
              Electromagnetic waves, radio, power systems
              Quantum mechanics, semiconductors, integrated circuits, computers
              Calculus, engineering dynamics, statistical methods
              Engineering methods and metallurgy
              Standardised mass production methods
              Communication, office and plant automation technologies
              Safe and reliable transport throughout the planet
              Reliable banking, International law, global commerce and it’s rules

              … how much longer do you want this list?

              All pretty much originated by the West and now being rapidly spread around the world. Yes we’ve made awful mistakes. But here is the difference, we generally acknowledge our monsters and are appalled at what they did.

              By contrast China still venerates Mao, and the CCCP derives it’s moral authority from the greatest mass murderer in all of history.

              • Mark

                FFS! Where did you rip that list off, was it your own busy little fingers that typed that or did you rip it off some white nationalist ALT right website?

                No one denies the West has had the technological upper hand these past few centuries. Chinese know this and openly admit it. Have you heard of the Needham question? (you should also be aware that most of the things you have listed above would not have happened if mathematics had not been revolutionised by Indians and Arabs. and that civilizations influence one another and some adopt innovations in other civilisations and bring them to an altogether higher level – a trivial example, one could argue Brazilians have made as great a contribution to world football, even though football was invented by the English)

                But that technology was not used to benefit the rest of the world, but rather to exploit and plunder it. It was only with the establishment of the Soviet Union, that countries all over the world, including China, managed to stand up and gain their independence and fully realise the benefits of the scientific revolution via Marxism Leninism.

                Lenin himself spoke of the so–called “hostility of the yellow race towards the white race……The Chinese do not hate the European peoples, they have never had any quarrel with them—they hate the European capitalists and the European governments obedient to them. How can the Chinese not hate those who have come to China solely for the sake of gain; who have utilised their vaunted civilisation solely for the purpose of deception, plunder, and violence; who have waged wars against China in order to win the right to trade in opium with which to drug the people (the war of England and France with China in 1856); and who hypocritically carried their policy of plunder under the guise of spreading Christianity? “

                So only an idiot is anti-Western civilization. But similarly only an idiot could not be anti-Western imperialism. Indeed in China, Western cultural and scientific historical figures like Beethoven, Newton, Shakespeare, etc are admired far more today than they even are in the West, and Stephen Hawking had a huge Chinese fan base and he indicated an affinity for the country. Not for the Chinese, post-modern cultural relativism.

                “But here is the difference, we generally acknowledge our monsters and are appalled at what they did.”

                Well you for one don’t. Where is your acknowledgement of the horrors of Western imperialism including Western imperialism in China, which even that most anti-communist of academics Rudy Rummel admits caused deaths of at least 50 million.

                As for Mao being the greatest mass murderer – that claim shows you to be utterly innumerate – as are the writers such as Dikotter and Chang etc who you have previously quoted. In fact Mao saved more lives than probably any other political figure in history, and the facts acknowledged even by Western academics lead to that inevitable conclusion. The current consensus in the West is about to be turned on its head over the next few years, as more and more facts become publicly available (or recognised).

                • RedLogix

                  Your own reference Dikotter appears to say the exact opposite of what you claim:

                  On a website providing exposure for the book, Dikötter detailed his key arguments. First, he states that the famine lasted at least four years (early 1958 to late 1962), not the three sometimes stated. And after researching large volumes of Chinese archives, Dikötter concluded that decisions coming from the top officials of the Chinese government in Beijing were the direct cause of the famine.

                  Beijing government officials, including Zhou Enlai and Mao, increased the food procurement quota from the countryside to pay for international imports. According to Dikötter, “In most cases the party knew very well that it was starving its own people to death.” Mao was quoted as saying in Shanghai in 1959: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

                  In their attempts to survive, Chinese people resorted to hiding, stealing, cheating, pilfering, foraging, smuggling, tricking, manipulating or otherwise outwitting the government. There were reports of armed assaults on granaries or trains.[7] Overall, Dikötter estimates that there were 45 million premature deaths, not 30 million as previously estimated. Some two to three million of these were victims of political repression, beaten or tortured to death or summarily executed for political reasons, often for the slightest infraction.

                  Because local communist cadres were in charge of food distribution, they were able to withhold food from anyone of whom they disapproved. Old, sick and weak individuals were often regarded as unproductive and hence expendable. Apart from Mao, Dikkötter accuses several other members of the top party leadership of doing nothing about the famine. While famine was ravaging the country, free food was still being exported to allies, as well as economic aid and interest-free or low-interest loans.

                  In addition to the human suffering, some 30 to 40 percent of all rural housing was demolished in village relocations, for building roads and infrastructure, or sometimes as punishment for political opposition. Up to 50 percent of trees were cut down in some provinces, as the rural ecological system was ruined


                  Your other reference Rudy Rummel seems even more scathing of communist govts:

                  In his book, Death by Government published in 1987, Rummel estimated that 148 million were killed by communist governments from 1917 to 1987.


                  With China topping the list at 77 million. I guess that does count as a small ‘setback’. Maybe your revisionist authors can massage it down to a more acceptable 7 million or less.

                  And incidentally if I copy and paste something I link to it. You needn’t worry too much about some alt-R website having it’s material pinched.

                  • Mark

                    I referenced Rummel not because he is a necessarily reliable author (he is in terms of colonial deaths) but simply as a natural rebuke to you, who relies on the same sort of people.

                    I said the likes of Dikotter were utterly innumerate. And nothing you have posted proves to the contrary. Also you don’t need to quote long screeds of his story telling. I have read his book (don’t worry I did not pay the moron for it – I downloaded it as a free epub from some site, and converted it back to a kindle doc).

                    Read his final chapter carefully. As the well known famine scholar Cormac O’Grada makes the point that It is not a comprehensive account of the famine; “it is dismissive of academic work on the topic; it is weak on context and unreliable with data”

                    Dikotter in order to calculate ‘excess’ famine deaths, adopts an annual mortality rate of 10/1000. Which is ridiculous as that is a developed country rate of mortality – here are some basic calcs. It ain’t rocket science:

                    Frank Dikotter states:
                    “The famine did not last three years, as is often thought, but at least four years, starting in early 1958 and ending by late 1962” (lets say 4.75 years).

                    From Ch 37 of “Mao’s Great Famine”:
                    “However, an average death rate is required in order to calculate ‘extra’ death figures. What would be reasonable?…..To err on the safe side, given the wide variations across the country, 1 per cent should be taken as a normal death rate”

                    Population of China in 1960: 667 million

                    Dikotter claims the GLF killed 45 million over four years.


                    Based on Dikotter’s facts (adopting 667 million as ‘average’ population durin the GLF:

                    45 million / 4.75 years = 9.47 million excess deaths per year.

                    That is: 9.47 million / 667 million = 14.2 excess deaths / 1000 or 1.42% excess mortality per year.

                    Add this to Dikotter’s ‘normal’ mortality of 1% and you get averaged annual mortality in China over the period of the GLF as 2.42%

                    Now let us look at Judith Banister’s CHINA’S CHANGING POPULATION. Banister’s given numbers are as follows:


                    Averaged annual mortality from these figures is 24.9/1000 or 2.49% cf to Dikotter’s 2.42%

                    Now let us look at what Jung Chang says:
                    “death rates in the four years 1958-61 were 1.20 per cent, 1.45 per cent, 4.34 per cent and 2.83 per cent, respectively” THE UNKNOWN STORY, p. 438

                    Average mortality claimed by Jung Chang during GLF is thus (1.2 + 1.45 + 4.34 + 2.38) / 4 = 2.34% death rate (or 23.4 deaths per 1000 per year).

                    Thus we have the averaged annual mortalities for the GLF from three sources, two of them extremely hostile to Mao. All three estimates align pretty well.

                    Again. These annual mortality rates are:

                    Dikotter: 2.42%
                    Bannister: 2.49%
                    Jung Chang: 2.34% (note that Chang’s figure would be less if I had considered 1958 to 1962).

                    Now let us compare with other developing countries of the time (from the authoritative Nation Master website http://tinyurl.com/2crqsxx)

                    India: 23.25/1000
                    Indonesia: 22.57/1000
                    East Pakistan (Bangladesh): 24.56/1000
                    Pakistan: 23.14/1000
                    Nigeria (under the UK, just before independence): 25.38/1000
                    Mozambique (under the Portuguese): 28.41/1000

                    As you can see, China’s mortality during the GLF, based even on the figures provided by the two most hostile researchers towards Mao, was not excessive in terms of a typical developing country of the time. And this was at a time of the worst climatic conditions in a whole century.

                    And China’s mortality during the GLF was far better than 38/1000 just 10 years before (Judith Bannister), and well over 30/1000 for India under the British Raj.

                    • McFlock

                      You’re really averaging percentages to pretend that big spike in 1960 doesn’t exist?

                      Bold move.

                    • RedLogix

                      The literature on these events in the West is extensive; and while various accounts naturally lead to differing views (that’s how you know they are authentic and not imposed by some centralised revisionist bureaucracy), the basic facts of the GLF and the Cultural Revolution are plain enough. Whether Mao killed one person or one hundred million deliberately; he remains morally culpable to the same degree.

                      The only person I would NOT trust to convey anything accurate about them is marxist acolyte openly determined to change history.



                  • Mark

                    You trust what white people say about China because you are a white person. Simple.

                    Its the equivalent of some academic with halting english from Mongolia writing about the Treaty of Waitangi and say Micky Joseph Savage.

                    Its so absurd, and the reason you can’t see it is because of your obvious racial arrogance.

                    • RedLogix

                      So you resort to playing the racist card again. I’ve seen that done here many, many times and it always speaks more about the person saying it than anything else.

            • Draco T Bastard

              So for people in the West to suddenly demand that developing countries pay the same wages as those in the West is utterly absurd

              Actually, it’s not. In fact, its necessary. After all, someone shouldn’t be paid less to do the same job just because they live in India or China.

              And, yes, that ‘same amount’ will be based upon some sort of Purchasing Power Parity.

              And as productivity moves up the value chain and technological competence improves wages will likewise rise, as is already happening.

              That’s not what actually happens. As productivity increases in an industry wages decrease. In developed nations wages decrease to those of the developing nations as unemployment and outsourcing to developing countries increases.

              However there is another solution. Simply the West offers to develop poor countries and provide them with the infrastructure and know-how for free.

              You do know that that’s already available right? And that its free?

              The problem that the developing nations have is that their wealth is dug and exported to developed nations. This makes a few people, usually foreigners, richer but doesn’t do anything for them.

              The problem for developing nations is the greed of the developed nations.

              • Mark

                After all, someone shouldn’t be paid less to do the same job just because they live in India or China.

                Agree with that. But under the current global capitalist system that we live under that is not going to happen. And it is not primarily because local governments are deliberately exploiting their own people. They are forced to play the game.

                “That’s not what actually happens. As productivity increases in an industry wages decrease.”
                Its not as simple as that, but as the type of products or services a country produces increases in technical sophistication, so do wages rise,

                This has happened in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, and is now happening in China:


                • Draco T Bastard

                  Its not as simple as that, but as the type of products or services a country produces increases in technical sophistication, so do wages rise,

                  It’s never as simple as that but wages still won’t rise as technical sophistication increases. Those technically sophisticated jobs will just be off-shored to low wage economies and the wages will decrease.

                  Here’s the most important point: Productivity is now so high that there isn’t enough work in the entire world to keep even the majority of people employed.

                  Wages will continue to decrease even with free-trade and the globalised market.

              • Tricledrown

                That’s why the antiglobalists like Trump encourage racist nationalist Fascists to keep the developing world poor and powerless. So they can exploit cheap labour abroad and suppress wage’s at home.

          • Draco T Bastard

            That’s exactly what WILL work.

            Which one?

            Or are you talking about a combination of the two?

  5. roy cartland 6

    Thanks TRP. Here’s another ital slavery song that some might not have had the pleasure…

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5VhPYsUtqA&w=875&h=492%5D

  6. David Mac 7

    I wonder if the growers did know about the conditions the labour force they hired were working under. When hiring a gang of muscle from AWF for a few days, a builder doesn’t know what conditions individual workers are on, they just get a $3000 bill from AWF.

    If I was the slaver the retained passports, pittance pay and other breaches would remain my secret. My crews would find themselves in hot water should they ever have a chat about their conditions with the growers. I suspect this is how this chap has been able to carry on for so long. Only he and his gagged workers knew.

    • While you are likely correct about the internal secrecy, I struggle to accept that it could go on for decades without suspicions being raised. Apart from anything else, his workers would have been the cheapest labour available. He would have been competing on price with other labour hire firms and presumably regularly undercutting them.

      With the service station owner case, I stumbled into it by overhearing a conversation. If a random visitor to the area can learn of exploitation, you’d think people actively involved in hort industry would have at least an inkling about the bad stuff happening on their patch.

      • David Mac 7.1.1

        Samu would only need to bash/punish an occasional potential whistle-blower and the ‘Say Nothing’ ethos would stick.

        Chances are the service station workers weren’t in line for a whipping or no food for 2 days.

        Yes, he would of been foolish for his pricing not to reflect the going rate for contract labour, the lion-share hitting Samu’s pocket and stopping there.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2

        Apart from anything else, his workers would have been the cheapest labour available.

        They may have been but not necessarily excessively cheaper. The give away would have been the fact that he was getting higher profits which indicates that he must have been successfully hiding those profits. So there’s probably a case of tax avoidance to answer as well.

        The latter is one reason why I think we need to go to full digital currency that exists solely upon NZ government servers. The movement of money proving the excessive profits would have been easily spotted by an algorithm designed to detect such structures.

    • patricia bremner 7.2

      And David Mac, we see what desperate people will do to help their families. This employer took advantage, and chose workers with poor English so they had small chance of finding out the rules were not his rules.

  7. SaveNZ 8

    The growers are turning their back on Kiwi workers because they know they can get this cheaper labour without conditions.

    It is not just the migrants to consider but the growing lack of opportunities for unskilled Kiwi workers, the unemployed or young workers who want holiday jobs.

    The reason why young Kiwis are less desirable workers now, is that it is so hard for them to get holiday work and therefore may not have had much experience working before their ‘end’ job. Kiwi’s used to have an international reputation as being hard, honest and workers with high initiative, by reducing opportunities for younger workers that reputation is now changing.

    Likewise if the orchards or middle men supplying labour did all that they did for migrants workers, aka arrange flights, accomodation and transport for gangs of NZ workers up front then they would get the numbers they need, likewise if the government make it easier for unemployed to go back on the dole if they need too. not have a stand down period which puts people off getting casual/seasonal work.

    The whole industry needs to get it’s act together, because they are exploiting migrants labour while turning their noses up at Kiwi workers and not prepared to give them the same help to work for them as migrants gangs.

    There is also the illegal labour working there which is unlikely to come forward and which the government has been turning a blind eye to.

    While it is good to see the government prosecuting the trafficking, it looks very selective that they are targeting Pacific Island traffickers and leaving other nationalities trafficking people aka fishing, construction, hospitality, sex industry alone.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      The whole industry needs to get it’s act together, because they are exploiting migrants labour while turning their noses up at Kiwi workers and not prepared to give them the same help to work for them as migrants gangs.

      Exploiting migrant labour is cheaper than employing Kiwis. Hell, as we now see, it’s possible to get the migrant labour to pay for the privilege of being exploited.

      While it is good to see the government prosecuting the trafficking, it looks very selective that they are targeting Pacific Island traffickers and leaving other nationalities trafficking people aka fishing, construction, hospitality, sex industry alone.

      [citation needed]

    • Kevin 8.2

      Meanwhile they label New Zealand workers as lazy dope smokers as an excuse not to employ them.

      • Tricledrown 8.2.1

        No body wants to be isolated from their family and exploited in rural low paid work. Dairy farms horticulture fishing. All jobs employers continue to be found wanting

    • greywarshark 8.3

      ve to go back on unemployment and you can bet the clerks are not very understanding about what it’s like. All office staff should have 90 days experience of outside and seasonal work.

  8. SaveNZ 9

    Also the drugs traffickers, aka who is dropping the massive quantities of drugs into the ocean to be picked up and distributed here?

    Man jailed over meth bust deported from Australia just days earlier


  9. David Mac 10

    These exploiters commit these crimes for 1 reason. Money. Hit them where it hurts.

    Every asset in Mr Samu’s possesion with a value greater than $10 should be auctioned off and the funds used to finance regulation with more teeth. Let him queue at WINZ for a grant to buy a few Salvation Army items of clothing.

    The members of Mr Samu’s immediate family should also be required to prove that any primary assets they retain were accumulated by legitimate means. Too many of these shysters retain wealth by moving asset ownership sideways.

    • aom 10.1

      Won’t happen David. The Proceeds of Crime Act is primarily for punishing the likes of gang members who accumulate a few assets, especially when there is no clear evidence of offending. The legislation was probably never intended as a means of extracting anything from criminals who are a bit higher up the food chain. Most of those can engage lawyers to make their ill-gotten gains untouchable anyway.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      Thinking about that I’m sure that all his assets that he’s accumulated from this crime is in a trust and can’t be touched by the police.

  10. Adrian Thornton 11

    Good piece here TRP, the orchard industry has been stealing workers wages around here (Hawkes Bay) for years. I did the numbers on the apple picking rates a couple of years ago, which I have unfortunately lost, but not before I made Andrew Little, and our fucking hopeless local Labour candidate, aware of the results.
    The upshot is that your ABOVE average picker, once monthly average rain days are taken into account, earns less than minimum wage.

    “The industry is growing so fast that Hawke’s Bay is producing more export apples now than the whole country was five years ago APPLE BLOOM: Bostock NZ orchard manager Fulton Gillies, who says the apple orchard blossom this spring is some of the best ever seen in Hawke’s Bay, offering another record season in 2016.”

    When I first moved to the Bay about 20 years ago, contract orchard work was a well paid job that whole families would participate in, making a pretty good living and getting on with their lives, this option no longer exists, a few big players have brought up nearly all the small orchards and have been conducting class war ever since..ie their profits have been going up every single year for the past 20 years, while workers wages have remained stagnant throughout this whole ‘golden era’ of growth, creating slums of low paid angry ripped off workers.

    “then the local industry is complicit in the crime. It cannot be possible that the people who used labour he supplied didn’t realise that there was an issue.”
    You have hit the nail on the head right here, the local Industry have been getting away with exploiting labour for too long, way too fucking long.

    BTW, It is common knowledge around here that this type of exploitation is widespread in the migrant workforce from both the Pacific Island and Asia.
    All you have to do is talk with a few actual orchard workers to get an idea of what is going on in plain sight to anyone who actually cares..

    • SaveNZ 11.1

      +1 Adrian Thornton

      Funny enough, there were no shortage of workers in that industry, when fruit picking was considered well paid.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      The upshot is that your ABOVE average picker, once monthly average rain days are taken into account, earns less than minimum wage.

      Contractors don’t have minimum wages. It’s one of those dirty little secrets that everyone knows about but can’t see a way to enforce a self-employed person to pay themselves the minimum wage. They get the profit instead and the profit is always variable.

      Of course, once you take the expenses of going to work out of those minimum wages the people on minimum wage don’t get minimum wage either.

      When I first moved to the Bay about 20 years ago, contract orchard work was a well paid job that whole families would participate in, making a pretty good living and getting on with their lives, this option no longer exists, a few big players have brought up nearly all the small orchards and have been conducting class war ever since..ie their profits have been going up every single year for the past 20 years, while workers wages have remained stagnant throughout this whole ‘golden era’ of growth, creating slums of low paid angry ripped off workers.

      Typical capitalist exploitation then. The bludging shareholders are seen as more important and deserving than the people who actually produce the wealth.

      BTW, It is common knowledge around here that this type of exploitation is widespread in the migrant workforce from both the Pacific Island and Asia.
      All you have to do is talk with a few actual orchard workers to get an idea of what is going on in plain sight to anyone who actually cares..

      Which tells me that the authorities didn’t care.

  11. Siobhan 12

    Right on TRP.
    I actually turned off the radio this morning when they described this issue as a ‘new low’ for nz..30 years of slavery, it’s not ‘new’, it’s simply been ignored thanks to class war and racism, both within the media, and among the politicians and bureaucrats. It simply doesn’t effect the people they know.
    Though even that is changing,.
    These days even the backpackers are not as keen on picking. The increased demands on fruit quantity and quality of picking has become so high, and the wages so low , it is simply no longer a fun and challenge adventure.

    The orchards involved need to be named and shamed. They should in fact face charges.

    Though I’m guessing they will pull off a ‘Chorus’.
    It beggars belief that Ian Bonnar, general manager of corporate relations at Chorus could publicly ‘be frank’ and admit their model quite possibly forced contractors into exploiting their staff, and yet not face charges themselves.

    As the discussion moved to the economics of the “model”, Bonnar remained frank about the situation. Asked if, as the subcontractor who emailed about fibre job installation costs alleged, there was simply just not enough money to pay for the all the players in the supply chain, he said: “I think that’s the bit that really needs to be clarified.

    “That’s the crux of the important piece of work here: does the model, whereby you get subcontractors reporting to subcontractors…take so much margin out at every stage that it drives those sorts of behaviours?


    • greywarshark 12.1

      “That’s the crux of the important piece of work here: does the model, whereby you get subcontractors reporting to subcontractors…take so much margin out at every stage that it drives those sorts of behaviours?”

      That’s the sort of naive thing that someone with the clear, curious mind of a child, seeing some idea naked without puffery and the candy floss of profit-high business, would say at the very start. And be ignored.

      Now perhaps, a little older and wiser, someone with ability to make decisions and who is concerned with fairness, decent living standards for all, and dropping the cant in favour of right outcomes re wages and conditions, will act now to make this right.

    • SaveNZ 12.2

      +1 Siobhan

      So stupid when the factories in Asia are expected to prove they are not exploiting workers and know their supply chain, while in NZ the horticultural and tech industry (and fishing, and construction etc ) gets away scot free because of loopholes.

      Close the loopholes so that a company is fined and the executive team could be jailed as well if their workers are exploited when their company benefits from that labour. Guess what, problem solved overnight if the top end of the corporations were held more liable for their decisions.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.3

      The only reason I can see as to why a business will subcontract out the provision of the service is to get those costs off their books. It looks cheaper to them and they’re no longer responsible for the people doing the work. This means that they pay what they want to pay but not necessarily what it costs.

      As I say above the contractors work on the profit and that’s not regulated. But organising the contractors is actually quite expensive and complicated and so the main business contracts another business that then employs subcontractors. That other business could also contract another business that then employs subcontractors.

      It’s a very complicated and expensive way to do things which can end up with lots of middlemen each taking their slice of the amount paid out by the first business. It’s expensive in a couple of ways:

      1. You get a massive blow-out in bureaucracy as each contract layer needs its own accountants and managers
      2. You get a massive increase in the tools needed. Each layer is going to need their own computers and their own software etc. The people at the bottom of the pyramid are also going to need their own tools such as drills etcetera. So instead of one drill for three people there’s now three. Same goes for staplers and stud finders and measuring devices.

      It’s a highly inefficient and expensive way to do things but, hey, the private sector knows best right? Tui.

      You’ll note that the people at the bottom of this scam, the people actually doing the work, are the ones that are working harder and longer and not getting anywhere but an early grave.

      For years people have been saying that as productivity increased employment was expected to decrease but it hasn’t and so all is good and we can expect new jobs to be invented as has always happened. Well, almost all of those new jobs are due to this inefficient bureaucracy, this blow-out of Bullshit Jobs.

  12. patricia bremner 13

    They should be describing it as a new attitude to crooked employers and supporting communities. This Government meant it. Workers would be paid and treated fairly.

    Further ILG has changed the regulations, and these schemes will be exposed. Names will be published Good.. that shame should stay for their rotten greed.

  13. Draco T Bastard 14

    Everything he owns is from crime so will the police be using the Proceeds of Crime Act and removing it all from him?

  14. … [ ” And it’s no coincidence that the alleged slavery happened in the years since neo liberalism first raised it’s ugly head.

    Slavery is not an unintended consequence of loosening the labour laws, it’s it’s logical conclusion. ” ] …


    Sums it all up right there.

    • Poission 15.1

      Of course.

      But there was another, larger, hidden battle taking place in the corporate boardrooms of freezing companies, who were determined to decrease the killing capacity in the North Island freezing works by up to 10 mutton chains and a full beef chain, as farmers and land use changed from sheep and beef to deer, dairy, grapes and orchards.

      And Whakatu was the target! Wattie’s, Weddell Crown, and Richmonds were the stalkers.
      The build-up to Christmas in the meat industry also coincided with shift work in pea and tomato harvesting in the canneries, main shearing, asparagus picking, forest harvesting, fruit thinning and vineyard work.

      Most freezing workers had at least a part-time job elsewhere, many had two jobs and some had three jobs.

      For five seasons in a row, several of us picked asparagus from 5am to 7am (using miner’s lamps), and then went to the slaughter board from 7.30am to 4.30pm, then off to the shearing sheds from 6pm to midnight.

      Others would do the canneries or pea harvest shift from 6pm to 2am, while others swapped their knives for chainsaws and headed into the nearby forests till around 9pm at night, during Daylight Saving.

      Weekends were full of pruning, thinning and shearing. Many of the butchers had other trades too, and would double up on weekends in their respective areas.


  15. greywarshark 16

    I’ve just been reading a young adult book about a quartet of children, the oldest of the family is 13 and they have struck hard times. They get a job picking tomatoes for a man who they realise is bad, who starves his dog and leaves it tied loosely near them, which they realise is a threat. It becomes apparent he is not going to pay them for their casual work and will do them harm and they escape along the nearby creek which they walk in up to their chests. The dog doesn’t catch them before they get to the water because it stops to eat their leftover lunch, as a starving dog would. Hoist with his own petard!

    The book is Homecoming and part of the Tillerman family series written by Cynthia Voigt, USA. This series pares life down with gritty personal adventures as they cope with life’s exigencies. There would be similar NZ stories that could be told now, and more as we decline. We will only be able to slow that decline, and build up resilience for the near future. That is why it is important to keep focussed on our country’s governance and distribution of resources, and acquiring our own skills and ability to think hive-mind over particular universal problems.

    It reflects triumph over hardship and keeping family trust and support alive and observing that the formal practices for a young family like this are not the best for their needs and development, and all split the family of children. They have a lot of adventures, but spunk, trust, love, hard work, skills, focussing on their plan and tasks, co-operating together, help them overcome all and they find their estranged Grandma and coax her that they can be assets as well as costly in money and care. Happy end for the battlers; all of them including Grandma.

  16. Ross 17

    And foreigners found to be exploiting workers here should be deported after completing their sentence, and should not be allowed to return here.

  17. NZJester 18

    From the picture posted in hawkes-bay-today section of the NZ Herald the houses his picture was taken in front of at the gate next to each other at 808 to 810 Kiwi St are quite imposing. They have huge big chain link fences and gates that surround the two houses and the yard areas around both houses have no grass just covered completely in concrete. The two houses and there sheds look like a prison complex and now we know why.


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