web analytics

Structural discrimination

Written By: - Date published: 9:58 am, August 20th, 2012 - 9 comments
Categories: class, poverty, racism, racism, Unions - Tags: ,

Structural discrimination is alive and well in NZ. It makes nonsense of all the right-wing “one law for all” and beneficiary bashing rhetoric, but anyone with two honest brain cells in their head knows that it’s true. A new report from the Human Rights Commission is being released today:

Minorities not getting fair go, says watchdog

Structural discrimination is a “real and ongoing issue” and Maori, Pacific and ethnic people are not getting a fair go in New Zealand, a Human Rights Commission report says. The report – A Fair Go for All? – is being launched at the Diversity Forum in Auckland today.

Minority groups are being disadvantaged by the country’s one-size-fits-all system in public services, which does not account for different needs and values, the report says.

“Put simply, Maori, Pacific peoples and ethnic communities are not getting a fair go in New Zealand’s justice, health and education systems,” said Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

“The evidence is that a monocultural approach continues to fail Maori, Pacific and ethnic communities.”

Some communities have problems accessing systems and services here because of structural barriers, the report says.

Key social indicators point to significant inequalities between ethnic groups in New Zealand, the report says, with life expectancy for Maori and Pacific people lower than for Europeans. …

The report aims to encourage discussion about initiatives to address inequalities by creating systemic change and to facilitate discussion between government agencies. ….

“Unfortunately, negative political opinion is sometimes used to erode small gains, programmes are shut down after only a few years’ implementation, targeted funding is cut and a refusal to see inequality in terms of ethnicity, despite evidence to the contrary, drives policy development.”

Just as one current example of what is going on:

Union members and their supporters occupied three Burger King stores on Queen St in protest at their treatment of immigrant workers. The move came as another union launched a network to improve the conditions of migrant workers. …

The union has taken cases to the Employment Relations Authority, saying Burger King is exploiting and abusing what it says is mainly a migrant work force that’s too scared to speak out. “It is because the company has told their managers to get them to quit their union because if they did speak to the union their visa wouldn’t be extended and then they’d have to go back to their homeland,” says Jerry Prakash of Unite Union. …

Mr Whitehead believes the number of migrant workers being exploited all across New Zealand could be in the hundreds of thousands.

From the same piece:

Burger King denies this, saying it doesn’t threaten its workers and that they are free to join unions.

Well they would, wouldn’t they. But this kind of protest doesn’t happen for no reason:

More than 40 protesters held an hour-long working conditions “teach-in” outside the Burger King outlet at Aotea Square in Auckland yesterday. … The Unite union national director, Mike Treen, said the protest was to speak up for the company’s workers about a culture of exploitation over pay and individuals being intimidated not to join the union.

We still have a long, long way to go before we eliminate structural discrimination in this country. And we won’t make any progress at all under a beneficiary-bashing “one law for all” type National government.


9 comments on “Structural discrimination”

  1. Carol 1

    Yes, this shows how dysfunctional our employment structure is. CEO’s paid a fortune while marginalised workers are exploited and dehumanised.

    And, of course, such corporations are happy to have high unemployment because some workers are grateful for any job, n matter how low the pay and nasty the work conditions.


    “There are now 162,000 New Zealanders unemployed, this number has risen by 1.1 percent – these figures continue to be alarmingly high. We need to focus on job creation, and support NZ jobs through government procurement. We need to boost training for Kiwi workers in Christchurch, build trains in New Zealand, retain good Government jobs, increase infrastructure projects, increase skill development programmes, reinstate tertiary spending cuts and stop hoping the market will fix this. Each percentage increase represents real people facing a miserable future unless together we take action.”

    And the stats show that the low paid workers who suffer most in this situation are Maori, Pacific and some other immigrants.

    • aerobubble 1.1

      People without income cannot buy goods and services, shrinking the economy, National love it.

  2. Dr Terry 2

    We appear to have Commissioners for lots of people, and they put out these splendid and well-founded reports. How is it that, as far as I can see, not one such report is treated other than contemptuously by the Government? Is there any great significance in the appointment of Commissioners in this day?

  3. Your excellent article appeared in our Daily News Digest on Discrimination!

  4. aerobubble 4

    Tax and redistribute. Joyce was on the Nation declaring that not taxing capital gains is good for the economy. He’s obviously wrong. Branding, for example, has to be paid for and so products cost more that are branded, there is a huge increase in value in companies who own such brands.
    Taxing an asset, or a capital gain, actually regulates the industry, provides a basis for value, and decreases the burden of taxation from other taxes. so if the government obviously delusional does
    not want a better functioning nation, why the hell would it care about discrimination. National don’t want better economy, they want to conserve the old regime or constant change, of opening up new
    areas to rent seekers. At its core National are corrupt, as Labour was. Nothing has changed because
    there is no good faith agreement, how can there be when the two major parties essential the same.
    Sure Labour says CGT now, but only because even the rent seekers see not doing so is a lose-lose.

  5. Mike Steinberg 5

    Why are Asians omitted from those statistics? I think you’ll find that they have lower imprisonment and unemployment rates than Europeans.

    I suppose that means that Europeans face structural discrimination in NZ??

    • Carol 5.1

      Asians that immigrate to NZ tend to be amongst the better off in their home societies – or at least from the middle income brackets.

      In contrast Maori and Pacific people tend to be amongst the lower income sections of their countries of birth.

      • Mike Steinberg 5.1.1

        There are asians who have been here for several generations though and didn’t necessarily arrive here from the better off sections of society. If structural discrimination was the problem de Bres suggests I would anticipate their intergenerational progress to be poor, but that’s not the case at all.

        Also, the same situation is seen with East Asian migrants in places like Brazil and the US who were brought over as indentured labour. Subsequent generations also tend to do rather well.

        I think you need to consider other bio-cultural factors for these trends.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • Government failure on housing crisis drives Reserve Bank to add tools
    If the Government was delivering a comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis, it is unlikely that the Reserve Bank would be continuing to pursue debt to income limits for lending for housing, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    11 hours ago
  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    5 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    5 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    5 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    6 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    6 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    6 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    7 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    7 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    1 week ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    1 week ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    2 weeks ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago