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Welfare is making Kiwis lazy and unemployable

Written By: - Date published: 8:26 am, April 2nd, 2017 - 166 comments
Categories: class war, jobs - Tags: , , ,

Welfare is making Kiwis lazy and unemployable. That’s an old argument from the political right. It gets another airing in this piece on Stuff today:

Welfare system may be to blame for Kiwis not taking jobs

A Northland horticulture firm director says employing locals does not make economic sense

A Mapua cafe made the news this month when its owner revealed she had struggled for six months to get anyone interested in a kitchen job.

Patrick Malley, of Onyx Horticulture, said it was a problem that affected his industry, too. It was hard to get people to turn up for work.

His firm had made a commitment to employing New Zealanders where it could – but that was a decision driven by social considerations, not commercial ones.

Good on this employer for a commitment to employ Kiwis. But if your jobs aren’t more attractive than a minimal and punitive welfare system, the problem is not welfare, the problem is your jobs.

He said a big problem for the horticulture industry was that it was hard to get committed staff for temporary work. “If you ask someone to turn up seven days a week for three months, then another two further months, then say ‘cool you can go on the dole now and we’ll have you back next year’, it doesn’t get people out of bed in the morning.”

So instead of offering full time jobs someone is trying to use welfare gaps as a deliberate part of their employment strategy, and then blaming welfare for the fact that it’s a hard sell. Isn’t that – confused and hypocritical?

To deal with the problem, Onyx Horticulture has worked to mix its crops of kiwifruit, avocado and berries together to spread out the work required over the year. That allows it to have 60 full-time staff.

A very smart strategy, bravo, that’s the kind of solution that we need.

Not to pick on any particular employer at all, but the whole “welfare is making Kiwis lazy and unemployable” argument is an absolute crock that applies to only a small fraction of the potential workforce. The problem isn’t welfare. Welfare has been around for decades. What has changed is the terms and conditions of work – for the worse. Another gift of the neoliberal revolution.

People want jobs, people want to work (“Thousands queue for 150 jobs”). But too many jobs have rubbish pay and conditions. Unions and collective agreements have been undermined. The minimum wage is too low. Those are the problems that need fixing, not welfare.

166 comments on “Welfare is making Kiwis lazy and unemployable”

  1. TheBlackKitten 1

    It amuses me when I hear of employers whinging that they can’t find anyone to do the job and they then turn to the lazy welfare argument. Yet when you look closer, you will always typically find these employers are offering pay that is the same as welfare, if not less with horrible hours and no job security.
    Sure I get that they may only need someone for three months working odd hours. But here is an idea, how about they start offering pay or perks that substitute for these inconveniences. They do that for CEOs and we are fed the line that they need to do that to attract someone to the role.
    It’s far easier for them to lambast the welfare system that is a safety net that is stopping people from falling into the desperate trap of having no choice but to take these crap jobs for crap wages and conditions. My message to these employers – start paying the right rate to attract people as you do when looking for a CEO then I am sure you will have dozens of candidates to select from.

    • Cinny 1.1

      I strongly agree with you BlackKitten. Many single parents are unable to get work purely because many jobs start at 8am and school starts at 8:30am. What to do with the kids in the morning? Especially if the single parent does not have any family or friends that aren’t working, and that they can trust to leave their children with in the mornings. There is plenty of ‘after school care’ out there, but no ‘before school care.’

      When a single parents working wages is maybe $10 a week more than their benefit, that hardly gives them the motivation to work. As a result I know of single parents who would rather do volunteer work while on the benefit, than paid work which would give them an extra $10 a week.

      Another example is the seasonal workers, it is common knowledge around my region that orchards etc would rather employ the lovely immigrant workers from the islanders. This is because they can screw them with deductions, such as crammed worker accommodation and meals. Why employ a local when you can exploit a foreign worker, who probably won’t speak up because they don’t know their rights.

      With the job in Mapua, people need to understand Mapua is a little community, around 20 minutes drive on the open road from any town, and it has no bus service. Great job if someone has their own transport.

      I heard of an employer that provided a wonderful solution, they provided a bus and changed the shift hours. In the mornings all the parents would drop their kids off at school, the bus would come and pick up the parents and take them to the orchard, parents would work then the bus would take them back to the school in time to pick up their kids.
      Now that’s smart thinking, as a result the workers felt looked after, worked hard and were long term loyal workers because they felt valued and didn’t have to stress about child care. It was a win for everyone.

      Employers need to understand this and so does the rest of the country. I get sick of the bene bashing, when the odds appear to be stacked against them to start with.

      • Antoine 1.1.1

        That deductions thing is real nasty, I don’t approve of that at all, it smacks of debt bondage and other bad things.

        And yes, flexibility in hours is a good thing too.


        • D'Esterre

          Antoine: “…it smacks of debt bondage and other bad things.”

          As the old song from the US has it: “Saint Peter don’t you call me, cos I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store.”

          • exkiwiforces

            Its good old school country song that I play a fair bit. Not only does it portrays a shocking abuse of workers working a in mine, but those working in the mine would more likely to had a company house which would’ve been on company land as well. The poor worker was on hiding to nothing with the fear of lax safety standards down the mine, the threat of Chinese coolies working for even lower wages and if the worker tried to organise workforce or went strike met with immediate lock out. Then the company goons would boot out the poor worker out of the house and a possible blacklisting. Very shocking state of affair’s.

            After reading a bloody good book called: The Noble Cause, The Story of The United Mine Workers of America in Western Canada. It’s no wonder my Great- Great Grandfather Frank Henry Sherman fought so hard with it up and downs to organise the coal miners in what became District 18 of The United Mine Workers of America and its founding President. To me this is must read book on why we need a Strong Union Movement in NZ.

            A Good Strong Union Movement prevents what is happing in NZ ATM and if Government keeps the union movement weak, employers will always run rough shot over it workers. This current bunch of MUPPET’S must go, But it start with YOU yes YOU to educate our young workers what a Union Movement can do for THEM and what a Labour/ Greens Coalition can do for THEM and YOU.

        • Keith

          “Flexibility” was one of those grey terms/lies/turds polished by National and promoted by John Key.

          It gave the appearance of an employee picking and choosing their hours and employer, all smiles, laughs and fun. That was definitely the way it was sold.

          But in reality “Flexibility” really meant workers for short term employment on crap money doing any hours that suits the employer to suit their business model. And when those employee fuckers had the sheer audacity to take some “individual responsibility” for their crap employment predicament and go and find work elsewhere using the invisible hand of the market well the low quality “flexibility” model fell apart.

          So in the last round of employment law tinkering did they not entertain if not implement bondage to employers so you could not go and find work elsewhere and be forced to work their bankrupt regimes?

          “Flexibility” is one of those go to lying terms like “Individual responsibility”, all bullshit!

      • georgecom 1.1.2

        the one thing I agree in this article that IS causing people on benefits not to apply for jobs are the high benefit reduction rates. Not a strong incentive to do part time/seasonal/irregular hours/low paid work. A change in the benefit reduction will encourage more people into such jobs.

    • Antoine 1.2

      > Yet when you look closer, you will always typically find these employers are offering pay that is the same as welfare

      You can’t legally offer pay that is the same as welfare.

      > start paying the right rate to attract people

      It’s an interesting quandary. Suppose, hypothetically, an employer can get a Kiwi to do a job for $20 an hour, or a foreigner will do it for $16 an hour (and probably do a better job).

      Should the employer:
      a. pay the Kiwi $20, or
      b. pay the foreigner $16, or
      c. pay the foreigner $20, or
      d. something else?


      • Cinny 1.2.1

        Same with the housing Antoine, would an employer rather rent out a house to a family for a set weekly rate, or to foreigners and charge per head.

        NZ Family rent (say a 3/4 bedroom house in the Motueka area) = around $380
        Foreign workers rent @ $120 a head, can fit at least 8 people in there = $960

        • Antoine

          Foreigners really getting ripped off at $120 there

          • Cinny

            But do the foreign workers get the opportunity to rent the house at a flat rate or are they only allowed to pay per head? Mean while the local family has been kicked out of the house by the landlord so he can house to foreign workers. Housing crisis

            And does this situation inspire the locals or create division?

      • Psycho Milt 1.2.2

        Suppose, hypothetically, an employer can get a Kiwi to do a job for $20 an hour, or a foreigner will do it for $16 an hour…

        …or a lot less than $16, because let’s face it $16 is a lot of money in Bangladesh or wherever.

        Should the employer:

        a. pay the Kiwi $20;
        b. be permitted by the government to bring in a Third-Worlder who’ll do it for a lot less than $20 and accept whatever miserable and punitive conditions the employer inflicts on them, thus maximising the employer’s profit while pushing the welfare costs of unemployed Kiwis onto the taxpayer.

        We know that National’s answer to this question is ‘b’, which is one of the many and various reasons you’d have to be fucked in the head and completely lacking a moral compass to vote for them.

        • Antoine

          It’s silly to say that National’s solution is to allow the employer to bring someone in from a 3rd world country to work for “a lot less than $20”. National has raised the minimum wage and it is now not “a lot less than $20”.

          I still wonder what is the best option in my hypothetical. I reckon the employer who wants to pay the foreigner $16 – providing they treat them right – is standing on reasonably firm ground.


          • Barfly

            so how does that benefit the country pal? import more people so we can have more umm unemployed?

          • Psycho Milt

            It’s not at all silly to say that’s National’s solution, because it is. Look at the various cases that have come before the Employment Court of Third Worlders being paid below minimum wage – given that these workers are dependent on the employer for their visas, only the most desperate people will make a complaint. We can assume these cases are the very small tip of a very big iceberg, and that’s even before we count scams like paying a “salary” and then making the sararymen work ridiculously long hours, or paying the minimum wage but then clawing much of it back via “expenses”the employee has to cover.

            And even if an employer were on “reasonably firm ground” in bringing in Third-Worlders because they’re cheaper than locals, that’s just another example of privatising profits and socialising losses. The inherent expenses for New Zealand in creating a pool of unemployed local labour while encouraging poor-quality immigration are borne by all citizens of New Zealand, while the profit involved is all pocketed by the employer. A government that facilitates that is acting against the country’s interests and should be voted out – hopefully the one currently facilitating it will be voted out shortly.

          • TheBlackKitten

            “Providing they treat them right”.
            Problem is what that $16ph does is lower the wages of the economy. Great if you are an employer but it sucks if you are an employee.
            So if a company can import a whole lot of people from where ever to work for $16ph, what is going to happen to the kiwi when he asks for $20ph that he or she needs so that they can meet the demands of the sky high rents that are charged in Auckland or that ridiculously overpriced grocery bill that we all have to pay in NZ just to eat. And before you tell me that they can shift from Auckland, keep in mind that there are no jobs out of Auckland which is why we are all forced to live there liked tinned sardines.
            Of course people from countries that have lower living standards are more used to sharing 10 to a room or living on one or two meals a day. Are you suggesting that working kiwis need to adapt to that lifestyle also?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Don’t forget that one of the reasons expats come here is for better wages and conditions. They certainly won’t complain if said wages and conditions rise out of the National Party gutter.

            • UncookedSelachimorpha

              Given the living wage is over $20, $16 is by definition not “treating them right”

        • jcuknz

          But the employer still has to pay his taxes to help pay for the welfare.
          and Goverment cannot pay so much welfare to its citizens because the employer is not paying as much tax on the wages …. quite a conumdrum?

      • TheBlackKitten 1.2.3

        “You can’t legally pay the same as welfare”.
        Oh indeed yes you can and how they do that is that they pay per bucket or offer 20 hours at 16.00 ph at odd hours that give no incentive to leave the welfare trap. Yet NZ employers get away with this as they are allowed to exploit foreign workers and pass the unemployment costs of kiwis on the dole onto the taxpayer because they are too greedy to pay for a fair days pay for a fair days work.
        And of course employers are going to and do choose the migrant at $16ph and it is exactly this reason why we have so many migrants with no skills being allowed to enter NZ through the back door on the so called laughable student visa. And it is these migrants that help keep our economy a low wage one which NZ employers just love and get away with and will never give up.

    • mary_a 1.3

      Here here BlackKitten (1). You have hit the nail right on its blighted head there.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.4

      My message to these employers – start paying the right rate to attract people as you do when looking for a CEO then I am sure you will have dozens of candidates to select from.

      If they did that then they’d have to seriously decrease the amount paid to the CEOs and other managers and then the poor dears wouldn’t be able to feel as special as they do now.

    • Tricldrown 1.5

      If its raining theirs no work then these horticulture businesses want piece workers rather than employees so they prefer overseas workers who live in third world conditions back home and are happy to pick or prune on contract.

  2. Tui 2

    workers aren’t lazy. employers are just greedy!

    ~ tui

    • Antoine 2.1

      You think no workers are lazy??

      • Antoine 2.1.1

        Also in a capitalistic society you kinda need employers to be greedy or its not goin to work. (Obviously they need to keep their greed in check and behave like decent human beings tho)

        • mauī

          So kinda accept then that the way society is currently run is based on greed, abuse of people (employees) and the environment.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Greed always destroys societies. That’s why it’s one of the seven deadly sins and why usury was banned several thousand years ago.

          So, why do you always advocate for that which destroys societies?

      • weka 2.1.2

        “You think no workers are lazy??”

        Not enough to warrant a generic lazy workers meme. Some people are lazy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, they’ll have other things to offer apart from a Protestant work ethic. ‘Lazy’ is a loaded word that ties directly into systems of domination and exploitation.

        • Antoine

          As is ‘greedy’

          • weka

            I didn’t use the word greedy. You used the word lazy. I’ll take from your response that you agree with my points and regret your use of the word. Either that or you’re saying that it’s ok to call a class of people lazy because someone else called another class of people greedy.

            • Antoine

              I think it’s ok to say that among a group of people, some are lazy. I think you’d struggle to find any credible right wing commentator in modern NZ saying that an entire class of people were lazy – feel free to prove me wrong?

              ‘Greedy’ wasn’t your word obviously, it was Tui’s. I’m pointing out that as lazy is a loaded word, so greedy is a loaded word.


              • Draco T Bastard

                I think you’d struggle to find any credible right wing commentator in modern NZ saying that an entire class of people were lazy – feel free to prove me wrong?

                Blinglish has been saying that for quite some time. Key did as well.

                And fisiani. But he’s just parroting what Blinglish and Key said before him.

                • Antoine

                  English was talking about _some_ young Kiwis. No one says that all young Kiwis are lazy, clearly there are lots of great people out there.


              • weka

                “I think it’s ok to say that among a group of people, some are lazy. I think you’d struggle to find any credible right wing commentator in modern NZ saying that an entire class of people were lazy – feel free to prove me wrong?”

                Nobody has suggested that. What’s being discussed is the lazy worker meme, which implies that workers in general* in NZ are too lazy to take these kinds of jobs. That meme regularly gets used by righties.

                *in fact, it implies a class of worker, those called ‘low skilled’ or ‘unskilled’. So I think there is classism at work here. But the nasty side of NZ, so I’d expect to see this meme in any sector.

      • Barfly 2.1.3

        you think no employers aren’t corrupt aceholes?

  3. Skeptic 3

    Yeah – it’s very much part of the building scene as well. After the Chch earthquake the Nats made a big song and dance about paying $40/hr for tradespeople to do EQR. They then let the main contracts to – guess who – Fletchers – who promptly creamed off $5 of the $40 and sub-let jobs out to their mates – who took their $5 and let jobs out to the sub-contractors – who took their $5 and engaged LLCs – who also took their $5 and paid Labour Hire firms to engage “contract labour” and temps. By the time the LHCs had taken their fees the actual people doing the work got paid minimum wage less 20% – no overtime, no S/L, no A/L, no ACC cover, buy your own tools, provide your own transport. There’s your current building scene at a glance – done by working holiday part-timers and imported labour. No wonder they’re now finding that half the work isn’t up to scratch – well pay peanuts & get monkeys.
    This is the same scenario for warehouse/stockroom work, restaurant work and a lot of customer service work – especially involving tourism. Whatever happened to apprenticeships – oh – that’s right – the “market” will determine when these are needed – yeah right. Whatever happened to the 8 hour day/40 hour week – oh – yeah – wage slaves don’t get real time off – there’s always tens of thousands of unemployed if they get stroppy.
    Welfare isn’t the problem – JACKE are (Just Another Cheapskate Kiwi Employer)

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1


    • gsays 3.2

      Hi skeptic, I have spent most of my life in kitchens.
      Institutional, small cafes, 5star, pubs, restaurants and even my own business.

      The two common threads are under paid and a lack of investment In the next generation.

      Currently work in a new venture and an offsider who pushes out $20-$25 pizzas is on $16 an hour.

      The young commis (junior, at ucol) chef, is under pressure as she isn’t fast enough, slows service etc.

      And I reckon these employers are fairly decent folk.

      Gotta fly, am on my 10 minute break after 5 hours standing.

  4. jcuknz 4

    I see the problem as the smug folk on a small income arguing against anyone getting more than themselves….. this is not new and has been the situation for decades since unemployment amounted to more than the fingers on the Minister of Labour’s hands.
    Selfish folk at all brackets of society who moan that somebody might begetting more than they do so call for a ridiculous abatement scheme which penalises people wanting to translate off the welfare into prodctive occupation.
    Now if anything anybody did was extra to welfare many more would gamble on a job improving their situation. I am not suprised the ‘black economy’ is such a success … but it could do better without draconian abatement.
    One of the reasons why I support a UBI. A basic income for living plus reward for effort in filling a job needed by the country. Some jam on the bread etc

  5. AsleepWhileWalking 5

    Billions of dollars in wasted welfare spend certainly makes landlords lazy. You can’t employ them either when they expect passive income for life.

  6. fisiani 6

    Why is the knee jerk reaction of the Left to assume that all on welfare would willingly go for a job if only the evil owners would pay a bit more.
    Too many are too drugged, too lazy, too unskilled, too untrustworthy and too unwilling to move for work. These descriptions obviously do not apply to all or even most on welfare but certainly do to too many. How do we assist or encourage them to improve their life. Welfare is a safety net for those unable to work. It should not be a lifestyle choice. Stop viewing my post as some sort of attack on the poor and actually provide some suggestions as how to best help the poor. 3,2,1 Abuse!

    • Cinny 6.1

      How would you assist them to or encourage them to improve their life Fisi?

    • weka 6.2

      “These descriptions obviously do not apply to all or even most on welfare but certainly do to too many”

      How many? Ball park % it.

    • Bill 6.3

      Maybe I’m an unemployed bum with a sense of dignity fisiani.

      Taking that as a given would mean I wouldn’t be jumping at any job for the mere prospect of money. Y’know – dignity.

      You want to encourage me to improve my life? That’s sweet of you.

      How’s about you improve the prospects for meaning to become an accepted part of the world of unemployment instead? That just means letting go of the prevalent and daft notion that the universe of jobs somehow represents the be all and end all of human worth.

      You think you can do that?

    • Keith 6.4

      Is that what ZB tells you?

    • Skeptic 6.5

      I think fisiani you need to check your stats before offering outrageous opinions like that.
      Fact 1, Apart from about 3% most UEB people are on the benefit three months or less.
      Fact 2, apart from about 5% most DPB recipients are there less than three years – 90% less than two.
      If there’s one thing lower than a Nat, it’s a bene basher.
      First lesson fisiani: Look up the Bible for the parable of the good samaritan. now right at the end after the concept of neighbour is explained, Jesus says to the disciples “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me”
      Lesson 2. Become human again by re-acquiring empathy

    • Barfly 6.6

      too unskilled but but didn’t the god complex natzi machine with its education reforms fix all that??

      • In Vino 6.6.1

        No, the teacher unions ruined it all, and plunged NZ into a new era of abysmal ignorance and vile laziness…

    • Because almost everyone on welfare who can work would take a job that offered them a significant raise, hell, some of them want a job even if they don’t get a raise because they want to have something to get them out of the house.

      If employers are having trouble competing with welfare, it’s almost universally the terms of the job that are the problem.

      That’s not always to say that every employer is “doing it wrong.” Sometimes they legitimately can’t afford to offer better. But a lot of big-business employers enjoy more than their fair share of profits from workers who are, frankly, underpaid, and at any suggestion that they can’t get enough labour at the rate they want, they throw a fit.

    • Richard 6.8

      “Too many are too drugged, too lazy, too unskilled, too untrustworthy and too unwilling to move for work.” So the drug testing shite came up with a fail rate of something like 0.05%.. One down.. The too lazy thing has I believe, already been adequately explained by intelligent commenters.. Two down.. It’s foreign unskilled workers taking low skilled jobs that are the topic here.. Three down.. Untrustworthy? Show us the proof.. or at least one credible source. Four down.. and too unwilling to move.. That’s fine if you’re only targeting single people.. Five down.. Got any real arguments that don’t back forced slave labour?? It’s been said.. Offer a fair wage and reasonable conditions.. Labour problem solved!! And that’s how best to help the poor..

      • jcuknz 6.8.1

        It is a pity the ‘bene bashers’ cannot be sat upon and the abatement rate reduced to nil or near nil as an experiment … but I have been saying similar the past thirty years and still the only changes have been to increase the abatement levels.
        Those who talk about dignity have valid point as why should a well paid previously person work for subsistence wages … fortunately I have never been put in that position but there but for the grace of god went I at one time.

  7. BM 7

    Fruit picking would be good for women on the DPB, maybe these employees could provide an onsite creche?

    Be a good way for single Mums to meet other single Mums and also earn a few extra dollars.

    • Bill 7.1

      Even better would be gleaning.

      That way there’s no pressure to ‘perform’ and the gleaned produce can then be processed in multiple ways by those involved in the picking…plus the orchard owner doesn’t have to deal with undersized or slightly damaged fruit and any disease vectors that might come from having a ‘messy’ orchard.

    • Sabine 7.2

      single fathers need not apply? or are they special?

      imagine, free day care and they get to meet other single dads and earn a few extra dollar to buy pretty things, like food and pay electricity and rent, and maybe disposable pampers instead of washable ones.

    • Antoine 7.3

      Is the DPB still a thing?

      • Ethica 7.3.1

        No DPB any more. No sickness benefit either, by the way.
        Just Supported Living for some disabled people and everyone else is considered to be a Job Seeker, even if widowed people with young children or seriously ill (as portrayed in the brilliant film, I Daniel Blake). Every cent has to be begged for and you have to prove you are actively seeking work. Once you get to 65 your benefit rate goes up, is no longer means tested, and you become a respectable beneficiary now called a Superannuitant.

        Those who criticise welfare and beneficiaries under 65 should actually find out about the punitive system and how hard it is to get support.

    • fisiani 7.4

      First suggestion as to how to actually help the poor and not from the Left. Typical.

      • Cinny 7.4.1

        Fizzy if you read the whole thread, check out my comment at the very top 1.1, describing hours being a problem for solo parents with school children and how an employer got around this by offering solo parent hours and a bus which left and returned to the school in time for dropping off/picking up kids.

        A solution from someone who cares about the community, not from the left or the right.

        Where have you seen these kinds of solutions put into practice? Were they left or right wing? And does it really matter? Solutions are more important than sides of the fence.

        There are plenty of night jobs out there as well, any night time creche for kids of solo parents? Would a night time creche be appropriate for children?

        I’ve employed solo parents before, and adjusted hours to suit them, they have been the hardest working, loyal and dedicated employees of all. Maybe because I valued them, paid them fairly and treated them well. Maybe it was because I understood their situation.

        A creche could be a solution to those with preschool children, but with 20 free hours child care and so many child care centres around I’d say that was already covered.

        School age children are different, where is the ‘before school care’ that is usually only needed for around 30mins, or an hour at the most in the mornings?
        Maybe if employers adjust hours it would better suit solo parents than a creche. Generally afterschool care programmes sort out the end of the day, but what about the start of the day?

        • Antoine

          There can be solutions like dropping the kids off at a classmate’s house to walk to school together when the time comes, or it’s not unknown to just bring the kids to school a bit early? (Neither is entirely satisfactory)

          • Cinny

            Yes that is a good idea, but only good if you have friends you can trust etc able to help. Problems would be in rural areas.

            School gate here opens at 8:30, no kids allowed before then. Some schools do breakfast club for 3 days a week, which starts at 8am many parents find this very helpful.

            Tell you what a community breakfast club for all school kids would be so helpful to so many solo parents juggling work and school kids in the morning. Breakfast plus some ‘walking buses’ to the local schools. I’d be happy as to pay for such a service as I’m sure many others would be. Hmmm bit of a hole in the market, business opportunity there.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.4.2

        It wasn’t a suggestion of how to help the poor. After all, if it was valid it’d already have be done as the market would have provided.

        No, it was just another distraction from a RWNJ.

        • aerobubble

          The worse they run the economy, the more inclined the lazy ceos like to blame the poor. Its the consequence of thre decades of the market boom that has empowered a managing class incapable of self reflection on their own incompetence.

      • Barfly 7.4.3

        help or harass? try some honesty acehat

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.4.4

        Left wing suggestions that help the poor:

        Democracy, universal suffrage, unions, the minimum wage, human rights, the rule of law, weekends, opposition to slavery, pitchforks, the guillotine.

    • jcuknz 7.5

      BM 7
      But have not the ‘do gooders’ introduced regulations regarding child care which make such rather hard to do if not completely illegal ….unintended consequences etc.

  8. Nic the NZer 8

    This is kind of tangential but there could be more discussion of the fact we have a government target unemployment rate and its presently about 5%. The target is to keep unemployment at about what is called the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU), or slightly above. Its believed that if this rate is breached then the inflation rate will accelerate (though its both debatable that both such a NAIRU exists or that some increase in the inflation rate isn’t presently what the government wants), so the Reserve Bank and Treasury will coordinate economic policy to try to maintain that.

    This makes it impossible for a significant percentage of the labour force to find work regardless of how diligent they are about it.

    • Bill 8.1

      Know how ‘everyone’ is in debt and how inflation would lead to wage growth and wage growth would essentially shrink that debt?

      That would be very, very bad for…um…not many people at all.

      • Nic the NZer 8.1.1

        I expect that is a bit too sophisticated to catch on as a main-stream political fact. We will no doubt carry on with the “inflation = bad regardless” regime for far longer than necessary.

  9. Bill 9

    “If you ask someone to turn up seven days a week for three months, then another two further months, then say ‘cool you can go on the dole now and we’ll have you back next year’, it doesn’t get people out of bed in the morning.”

    Patrick Malley misses the point by quite a long way there. First up, second up and third up, there’s the hell of dealing with WINZ.

    I know some local employers who offer good rates of pay but due to the nature of their business, can only offer short term jobs. And WINZ kind of ‘mob’ anyone who takes up the job offers. (Report weekly earnings – fill out ‘this form’ – fill out ‘that form’ – justify and explain ‘this’ piece of info – essentially, now that you’re ‘on our radar’ we have a whole battery of bureaucratic and onerous munitions coming your way…)

    Often enough (and this is fairly common) the work will be ‘under the table’ for a while to keep WINZ off of peoples’ backs. But then the fear of IRD comes into the picture, the job is formalised and at that point the employee understandably shoots through.

    You want to get jobs filled, then deal with the systems end of the problem, because for many, WINZ is like the bully down the street who, for good reason, you’re desperately trying to avoid.

    • Antoine 9.1

      Do we know what Lab/Greens would do about making WINZ act like more reasonable human beings?


      • Bill 9.1.1

        First up, there are some very reasonable people working for WINZ. It’s the system itself that’s at fault.

        Labour was promising back in the day of Helen Clark to rewrite the Social Security Act. Nothing came of it.

        I believe the Greens are wanting to rewrite it.

        I don’t know what either party intends to do about abatement rates (a huge issue – paying 70c in the dollar from a pittance)

        I don’t know what either party wants to do in relation to basic benefit levels (they are far too low)

        I don’t know what either party wants to do with issues around subsidising rents – a subsidy to landlords that leaves those on entitlements fairly well screwed.

        I don’t know what either party intends to do by way of reversing Clark era benefit cuts or previous cuts from the early 90s.

        No doubt someone here-abouts can offer some detail.

        • weka

          +1, this is definitely a system issue, both structurally and at the policy interpretation level. The former is a big change, the latter relatively simply (Antoine, the people you vote for deliberately run welfare in ways that harm people).

          The Greens want to raise welfare rates. That’s pretty doable without a major restructuring of welfare. The other issues (abatements and AS) are trickier and I would guess that the Greens would look at them in the context of their overall approach including a UBI and changes to how govt generates income.

          Just had a look and the Greens have change a whole bunch of stuff on their website so am going to post the whole subsection here (it’s from a PDF).

          2. Reform of the Existing Income Support System
          In furthering the principles of sufficiency, simplicity and universality of the income support system, the Green Party will:
          1. Set benefit amounts at a level such that beneficiary income is sufficient for all basic needs.

          2. Protect welfare benefit levels by indexing rates to a basket of food, energy and housing price indices and legislating for a benefit level floor to ensure main benefits cannot fall below a fixed percentage of the average wage.

          3. Ensure supplementary assistance payments keep pace with the cost of living.

          4. Legislate to provide for annual adjustments in the minimum wage and to ensure that it eventually equates to no less than 66% of the average wage, to alleviate the unnecessary subsidising of the earnings of low-income workers through targeted income support assistance such as Working for Families Tax Credits and Accommodation Supplement.

          5. Repeal the much amended, complex and cumbersome Social Security Act 1964, and replace it with a new and clearly written Social Security Act with a view to:
          a. Establishing a two-tier benefit system consisting of:
          i. a universal base rate; and
          ii. add-ons for specific circumstances or additional needs, such as dependants, disability or chronic illness.
          b. Providing discretionary third-tier assistance until such time as the needs of all beneficiaries can be met through the proposed two-tier system, including restoring a discretionary Special Benefit in place of the highly regulated Temporary Additional Support.
          c. Introduce a Consumer Price Index-adjusted Universal Child Benefit. This non-income tested payment to the primary caregiver would be similar to the Family Benefit that was abolished in 1991 and will be able to be capitalised towards the purchase of a first home by the child’s family.
          Authorised by Gwen Shaw, Level 2, 17 Garrett St, Wellington 2
          d. Reintroducing a benefit for unsupported unemployed or sick young people aged 16 and 17 without requiring them to establish family breakdown.
          e. Abolishing pre-benefit stand-down periods, and reducing non- entitlement periods for work-test failure by work-tested beneficiaries from the current 13 weeks to the actual period of work-test non-compliance.
          f. Reforming the work test for work-tested beneficiaries to take into account the valuable contribution to society made by people doing voluntary work and parenting.
          g. Treating people aged 18 and over as adults for income support purposes.
          h. Increasing emphasis on treating all adults as individuals for income support purposes.
          i. Making all unemployed students eligible for the relevant benefit over the summer holiday, irrespective of parental income.
          j. Address the problem of benefit abatement for those moving into employment, and the removal of the poverty trap created by high marginal tax rates that exist for people on low incomes.
          k. Abolish the current dollar for dollar abatement of income tested benefits when weekly compensation under ACC is payable, and in its place implement a regime under which weekly compensation is treated no differently from other income for benefit abatement purposes.
          l. Restrict the dollar for dollar abatement regime on overseas pensions to apply only if the overseas pension is paid from overseas government schemes funded through taxation (similar to New Zealand benefits); and treat income from contributory overseas pension, superannuation and savings schemes no differently from other income for benefit abatement purposes.
          m. Repeal section 70A of the Social Security Act, which penalises single parents who refuse, or fail, to identify in law the non-custodial parent of their child or who refuse, or fail, to make a child support formula assessment application. While we believe that that non-custodial parents should be required to take financial responsibility for their children, we believe this would be more effectively achieved through a review of the Child Support Act, together with more effective education of children and young people about the responsibilities of parenting, rather than by financially penalising some of the most vulnerable families in our society.
          n. Remove social obligations, warrant for arrest rules, drug testing and sanctions.
          o. Review the sickness and impairment related assessment and appeal system.

          6. Introduce a tax-free zone at the bottom end of the income scale as part of ecological tax reform, which will help reduce problems with abatement rates.

          7. Assist motivated people with entrepreneurial talent on income support to set up their own small business by:
          a. Increasing access to the Enterprise Allowance at adequate levels and in all geographic localities.
          b. Supporting and expanding the availability of employment resource centres, small business support groups and similar organisations which work to train, mentor and support people going into self- employment, small business, cooperative and community owned enterprise.
          c. Increasing funding for the current business support scheme so it is available to anyone starting a business for the first time and new
          Authorised by Gwen Shaw, Level 2, 17 Garrett St, Wellington 3
          migrants, rather than just those who have been unemployed for 6 months or more.

          8. Reinstate the Training Incentive allowance for degree-level courses, and extend its availability to long-term sickness beneficiaries.

          9. Ensure that the Ministry of Social Development, including its Work and Income Service, (MSD/WI) works to:
          a. Ensure that all people using their services are treated respectfully and heard, by implementing an effective complaint process.
          b. Ensure that people who are dissatisfied with decisions of MSD/WI re their entitlements have access to a speedy and independent review and appeal process that operates in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
          c. Ensure staff training, instructions and incentives encourage staff to engage in active listening and make positive efforts to inform individuals of their full entitlements and provide them.
          d. Improve outreach efforts to minority groups through their community organisations, including training of MSD/WI staff.
          e. Expand vocational guidance services so that unemployed people can be given proper, individually tailored assistance in finding appropriate employment and training opportunities from the time they first register as a jobseeker.

          10.Ensure quality support and advocacy services for people dealing with Work and Income and other relevant Government departments by:
          a. Significantly increasing MSD funding and infrastructure support to community organisations that provide beneficiary advocacy and support services.
          b. Supporting and enabling training and information sharing in and among advocacy groups.
          c. Providing proper accountability mechanisms for MSD/WI to all key stakeholders.
          d. Further developing appropriate ways for community organisations to provide feedback to the MSD/WI on the effectiveness of its services in each of its regions.
          e. Developing the capacity for community organisations to carry out research and contribute to policy development.
          f. Enabling community advocacy and support organisations to have access to appropriate MSD/WI information with proper informed consent and security processes and within the limits of the Privacy Act.

          11.Review and regularly update the maximum level of all categories of special needs grants paid by MSD/WI to ensure they are adequate to meet their respective purposes.

          12.Enable MSD/WI to make a provisional assessment of eligibility on the spot and award a non-recoverable temporary benefit while it does its checking. Waiting a couple of weeks while MSD/WI gathers the information to make a decision can be very detrimental to families.


          • weka

            I’m wondering if that’s been updated. Good to see roll backs for much of the Bennett reforms.

            The abatement issue is clearly stated as a priority. No mention of AS, but it might be dealt with in the housing policy.

            • Bill

              Number 10.
              At present, anyone advocating for an unemployed person faces jail if they accept any kind of payment for their advocacy. Not that I’m suggesting taking money from someone’s entitlement, but a mechanism to recover or claim costs from MSD would be a huge step forward.

              Number 6.
              Getting the tax off of entitlements. About bloody time!

              Number 2.
              Pegging the dollar amount of entitlements to a percentage of the average wage.

              And other good sounding stuff. Maybe they’ll work on their terminology at some point too – “benefits” is a term burgeoning with negative connotations.

              Just as footnote 5(m) …the TOPs unconditional benefit proposals address that quite well I think.

              • Antoine

                > At present, anyone advocating for an unemployed person faces jail if they accept any kind of payment for their advocacy.

                Gosh – how did that come about?


                • Bill

                  It’s part of the Social Security Act.

                  • Antoine

                    I wonder about the rationale for it

                    • weka

                      I would guess it was intended to protect beneficiaries and/or the state’s money.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Section? I’m searching the Act and can’t find it, nor is there any reference in the Ministry’s info for advocates.

                    The words “advocate” and “advocacy” turn up zero hits in the Act.

                    Auckland BAIS were certainly paying their staff three years ago.

                    • Bill

                      The info’s remembered from doing an advocacy course through Wellington Peoples Centre a few years back.

                      My understanding was it was contained in the Social Securities Act. Apologies if the source is wrong, but the info itself isn’t.

                      It’s not to do with paying staff. It’s about an advocate charging a fee to whomever they advocate for or seeking costs from MSD.

                      edit – I also know that Invercargill’s advocacy centre had to find a ‘work around’ because of it. (Don’t know if they still exist)

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      It’s about an advocate charging a fee to whomever they advocate for or seeking costs from MSD.

                      In the case of BAIS, MSD are one of their ‘sponsors’.

                      My instinctive reaction is that it (a ban on charging for advocacy) has the effect of controlling who a beneficiary can turn to for help, as though their inability to pay weren’t enough of a market signal failure 😈

                      That said, I wonder how other arrangements could be gamed by unscrupulous greedy SERCO-types.

                    • weka

                      I thought it was that advocates can be paid, just not by the beneficiary. Maybe it’s in a different Act? I’m trying google and got this, which is about review processes but includes this,

                      The complexity of the Social Security Act 1964 results in beneficiaries frequently engaging advocates or solicitors to represent them at reviews and appeals. However, there is currently no provision in the Social Security Act 1964 for costs to be awarded in favour of successful review applicants. While there is provision for cost to be awarded in favour of successful appellants to the Social Security Appeal Authority, this power has traditionally been exercised sparingly by the Authority. Three undesirable consequences flow from these inadequacies in the current legislation:

                      • Highly skilled advocates therefore often work for little or no remuneration.
                      • Beneficiaries who can least afford legal representation become indebted to solicitors.
                      • Beneficiaries inadequately represent themselves at review and appeal hearings.

                      So lawyers can charge beneficiaries but not advocates?


                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      The economic benefits of significant investment in beneficiary and worker advocacy would dwarf the dubious worth of an aluminium smelter.

                      For example.

          • Antoine

            > Antoine, the people you vote for deliberately run welfare in ways that harm people

            That does seem to be the case, yes, unfortunately.

            Thanks for the info on the Greens policy. Points 9 and 10 are particularly relevant to the question.

            Still wondering what Labour proposes to do as that’s probably more determinative.


            • One Anonymous Bloke

              The political environment is so toxic I think Labour would be far wiser to keep their powder dry. Any attempt to verbally address the National Party’s attacks on human rights will be met with cacophony of hatred and bigotry towards the poor.

              Far better to get elected then use urgency.

              It it were me, I’d include an amendment to the proceeds of crime act regarding companies that lose too many employment disputes, and their owners.

              • You assume Labour actually care to change the policy, which I have seen no suggestion is the case.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I am no more assuming that, than I am that Antoine’s concern is genuine and sincere, or that anything Labour could say or National could do, would cause Antoine to change his vote.

        • Antoine

          > there are some very reasonable people working for WINZ

          That is very true and I’m sorry I suggested otherwise. Would edit my comment if that were possible.


  10. Keith 10

    “Free Trade”, that is of course anything but has led us down a road of small low quality businesses replacing manufacturing and 40 hour type work a worker can rely on.

    It is a reality that the horticulture industry by its very nature produces low paying poor quality work by and large. Perhaps in the processing phase things improve but that is about it.

    If you can’t live off the meagre wages you earn or if travel is making the job uneconomic as is rent in Auckland for example then people aren’t lazy, they are just poor!

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    If instead of offering full time jobs someone is trying to use welfare as a deliberate part of their employment strategy, and then blaming welfare for the fact that it’s a hard sell, isn’t that – confused and hypocritical?

    Just imagine how much he’d be whinging if he had to pay a full years income for those 5 months work. Which really is what he’d have to do if there was no welfare because the person needs to be able to live for a whole year and not just those five months and they don’t have any guarantees of any other work.

    That’s the point about contract work and zero hours – the amount paid needs to go up several multiples to cover the times that the contractor isn’t working.

    But, hey, that’s apparently not the employers concern and so these contract systems become a way to lower wages and increase profits for the bludging shareholders while increasing poverty in society with the inevitable collapse of society.

    People want jobs, people want to work (“Thousands queue for 150 jobs”). But too many jobs have rubbish pay and conditions. Unions and collective agreements have been undermined. The minimum wage is too low. Those are the problems that need fixing, not welfare.

    My sister was saying how paying everyone the same amount was the biggest de-motivator around but I’m pretty sure that not paying people enough and treating them as expendable is far more of a de-motivator.

  12. ” Not to pick on any particular employer at all, but the whole “welfare is making Kiwis lazy and unemployable” argument is an absolute crock that applies to only a small fraction of the potential workforce. The problem isn’t welfare. Welfare has been around for decades. What has changed is the terms and conditions of work – for the worse. Another gift of the neoliberal revolution.

    People want jobs, people want to work (“Thousands queue for 150 jobs”). But too many jobs have rubbish pay and conditions. Unions and collective agreements have been undermined. The minimum wage is too low. Those are the problems that need fixing, not welfare. ”


    THIS ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  13. So, the employers win the war against trades unions, implement pay and conditions that are great from the employers’ perspective but totally shit from the workers’ perspective, and gosh, it seems like since then we’ve seen a serious decline in the morale and motivation of the workforce, such that employers have to bring in workers from countries with even worse pay and conditions than ours if they want motivated employees.

    “What could possibly have caused this decline in the quality of the local workforce?”, the brightest and best of New Zealand’s ruling class ask themselves. “It’s a complete fuckin’ mystery. Must be drugs. Or welfare. I mean, what else could it be?”

    • Antoine 13.1

      Genuine question, how are pay and conditions worse than e.g. 20 years ago? (For young people in entry level jobs in the regions.)


      • Skeptic 13.1.1

        I can answer that A.

        In 1988, I was a TEO arranging block courses for apprentices with another – that’s all the block courses for all SI polytechnics for over 100 trades. In 1991, Dr Lockjaw-Smith decided that the “industries and market will train apprentices” and the Apprenticeship Service (ETSA) was shut down. Until that time most schools found what their students were good at and started putting them through courses that set them on the road to trained workers and most went through varsity, polytechnic or nursing schools etc. All these jobs had standardised entry level wages and a career structure.
        In 1991 the Employment Contracts Act was enacted – suddenly income became “commercially sensitive” and non-disclosed.
        So yes, employment and careers were most definitely 1000 times better prior to the ACT governments of 1984 to 1999.
        Can we get back to a situation where the Kiwi worker is treated with respect and dignity? Maybe, if people would educate themselves on NZ social history and realise what has actually been done to the country and its citizens – then voted the right (left) way.

        • exkiwiforces

          Don’t forget the cadetships in the Agriculture, Horticulture, Viticulture and Cut Flowers sectors and these entry level pathways have gone the of way dodo as well. Now look at those sectors complaining that they can’t get Kiwi workers to work in those sectors. So now they get overseas workers to do the job at lower rate and usual with poor working conditions as well.

          Tell me what Kiwi worker would take on a student loan for 3-4 yrs in their choosing subject which could be under mined by cheap foreign labour and possibly no future full time employment ? I sure as didn’t in 90’s as I would’ve started out a 30K to 40K debt before I hit the workforce and now I do my 2nd choice occupation overseas as well due poor pay and conditions in the NZDF.

          Talk about cutting one ‘s hand off or should that be one’s neck in the Agriculture, Horticulture, Viticulture and Cut Flowers sectors.

      • Banjo 13.1.2

        “how are pay and conditions worse than e.g. 20 years ago”

        My son’s first job a couple of years ago at age 13 was delivering the local newspaper & junk mail. As per his employment contract the responsibility for health & safety was his, the responsibility to provide cover if he was ever sick was his, he was to work 52 weeks of the year, if he wanted to take a holiday he had to arrange for someone to deliver for him, he had to buy/provide his own wet weather gear & high vis vest. He had to sort the items in a particular way before delivery which took so much time his hourly rate worked out at around $5-$6 an hour. Twenty years ago the organisation distributing papers wouldn’t have put the responsibility for every aspect of the job onto the child they employed, the paper boy/girl would’ve been an employee not a contractor, they would’ve been more fairly remunerated and they wouldn’t have paid tax.

      • Draco T Bastard 13.1.3

        Wages have declined over the last 20+ years due to ‘market’ reforms resulting in more and more going to the least productive of our society – the rich.

        • fisiani

          Any evidence for such a ludicrous claim that wages have declined over the last 20 years Draco? I would be crucified here if I make such a ridiculous claim. The Left seem to get a free pass to make outrageous claims with not a an ounce of truth. The minimum wage rose by 50c an hour yesterday. A 40 hour/week worker will earn $20 a week more this week than last week,

            • McFlock

              thanks, that’s really useful 🙂

            • Antoine

              I’m not sure these figures tell the whole story.

              In particular, I’m not sure that they include changes in tax, or benefits (eg introduction of WFF). Nor do they consider the recent rise in house prices. Nor the shift from employees to contractors. Etc etc.

              Interested to see an economist’s take on how the lot of the lower paid worker has changed over 40 years… That Brian Easton might be well positioned to comment


              • Changes in tax are mostly con jobs from a wage earner’s perspective (eg, John Key’s “tax cuts” in which your reduced income tax was swallowed up by a corresponding GST rise), and the very existence of WFF is evidence of how real wages have fallen. House price changes have only increased the cost of living for wage earners, and the shift from employees to contractors has been all about shifting costs from the employer to the newly-minted “contractor.” However you slice it, Draco is correct.

                • Antoine

                  It may well be that the full story is even more damning to neoliberalism, I’d still like to see it.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I’m not sure these figures tell the whole story.

                They tell the story well enough.

                Definition of Stupid.

          • Skeptic

            Are you shitting me? There’s enough statistics to re-forest NZ proving that if today’s average wage was equal to inflation adjusted 1984 figures, the average wage would be $65/hr and the minimum wage would be $33/hr. The has been several TV documentaries – NZ ones – with concrete proof as to this. Where the fuck were you when these were broadcast? Let me guess – you’re one of “those” people who have known nothing other than post Rogernomics/Ruthenasia – an X-Gen or later. Go read your history and educate yourself with Hansard reports from Govt Depts, before making stupid comments on this website.

            • Antoine

              Can someone succinctly explain to me how (after tax) wages fell in the 1980s?

              Also how businesses circa 1980 were able to turn a profit while paying so much higher wages (in real terms)?


              • McFlock

                More people were paid less.

                • Antoine

                  Seems to be some combination of:
                  – the wage and price freezes coming off
                  – lots of well paid public sector jobs getting the axe
                  – defeat of unions and partly as a result, employers negotiating wages down
                  – introduction of GST with no corresponding decrease in income tax in the lower brackets.


              • Antoine

                I’m reading this old Stats NZ paper, http://www2.stats.govt.nz/domino/external/pasfull/pasfull.nsf/84bf91b1a7b5d7204c256809000460a4/4c2567ef00247c6acc256b03000bdbe0/$FILE/Incomes.pdf, and it shows median real after-tax adjusted household income falling by 6.5% between 1982 and 1991 (second to bottom row of FIgure 5.1), which for sure was not a good thing, but it’s much much less than the 24% fall in the first graph of Draco’s Daily Blog link above.

                • McFlock

                  Indeed. You have discovered that median household income is not the same as average wage.

                  oh, and your business question earlier: when people are more highly paid, they have more income to spend in their community.

                  • Antoine

                    > You have discovered that median household income is not the same as average wage.

                    That’s my point. Draco’s Daily Blog graphs apparently show average wage pre-tax, but is that a good indicator of how well off most people actually are? I’d say post-tax median household income is a better indicator. Because it actually reflects the money that working people have in their hand to spend on stuff.

                    But then, maybe the median household income is a dodgy measure too as it may reflect households amalgamating or hours worked increasing (does anyone know if this is the case?). And then, it includes superannuitants and other beneficiaries as well as workers.


                    • McFlock

                      Because it actually reflects the money that working people have in their hand to spend on stuff

                      No, because households have variable numbers of dependents to income earners.

                      But even if it were, what would you do – ignore the wage data? It’s not a case of choosing which indicator you like. Don’t be the pilot in a cockpit who chooses to believe the artificial horizon says the full story just because the altimeter is giving distasteful information.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      Yes your measure matters and its not always clear which measure is appropriate.

                      Here are some particularly pathological examples where deciding how to measure a-priori is really hard. (But still effect the outcome)


                      On the other hand you can probably decide a-priori between average wage and median household one has a confounding factor and one doesn’t. Median wage would be better again as it measures wage outcomes for more people that the average.

              • Antoine

                Meanwhile, http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Files/Statistics/tables/c21/hc21.xls shows mean household disposable income increasing at a rate of about 5.0% p.a. between 1999 and late 2016 (row 21). Against a background of inflation averaging 2.7% p.a., that’s a real increase of 2.2% p.a..

                (Now admittedly that’s mean not median, but I understand that inequality was reasonably static over that period so it should be a reasonable proxy.)

                That’s not consistent with Draco’s first Daily Blog graph which shows wages declining over the same period. It does however seem reasonably consistent with Draco’s second Daily Blog graph which shows a healthy increase in real wages over the Clark/Cullen years.


                • McFlock

                  Dude, you’ve got an entire fruit platters on the table there that you’re comparing with each other.

                  All of the indicators you mention are thinly related at best. They all describe different things, some of them with quite specific criteria (e.g. household disposable vs household vs individual vs individual wage incomes).

                  They’re not contradictory. They just tell different aspects of the same story. Very few of those aspects are good. When it comes to Lab4 or the nats almost all are bad. A few are ok with regard to lab5.

                  • Antoine

                    Ya it’s a real hodge podge which is why I’d like to see something by a real (non partisan) economist who would know the right indicator(s) to use and be able to source them.

                    I take issue on your last para though. You said: “When it comes to Lab4 or the nats almost all are bad. A few are ok with regard to lab5.” In fact, pretty much any economic indicator I’ve looked at looks pretty rosy during the Lab5 years (not surprising in such sunny global economic conditions). The current Nat government took a hit from the GFC etc but the economic indicators still look pretty good… until the housing crisis turns up.

                    (I’m clearly not understanding Lab4 well yet, despite a bit of reading, so I won’t comment on that.)

                    • McFlock

                      It’s not all gfcs and earthquakes: things like the waterways and housing crises could have been well head off with stronger action by lab5.

                      You seem to be doing okay here sourcing indicators (if rb or treasury don’t have ’em, stats nz infoshare likely does). But really, there’s no such thing as a “nonpartisan” economist. Look at the various sources, get a nodding acquaintance with their differences.

                      The real knack is defining your question. Once you have a precise question, the precise dataset or combination that answers it will self-present. [edit – more often than not, anyway]

                    • Antoine

                      Yes i seem to have drifted away from the original question…

                      PS. As an afterthought, minimum wage has gone up in real terms under both lab5 and Key so that’s something. For those who get it.

                    • Antoine

                      Ps McFlock, I’m not sure Lab5 would have wanted to prevent the housing crisis if they could. If a genie had told them ‘You can have lots of Kiwis returning to NZ, and economic growth in Auckland, but the cost is that Auckland house prices will go up’, I reckon they would have been like ‘sign me up for that!’

                    • McFlock

                      maybe, maybe not.

                      the point being that Michael Joseph Savage would have looked the other way while John A Lee kicked that genie in the nuts yelling “there’s yer false dichotomy!”, and Big Norm would have said “bugger that, how about we start some urban planning and state housing projects before we get flooded”.

                      Whereas Clark and Cullen never quite got around to getting started on the problem

                    • Antoine

                      You can probably guess that I am unfamiliar with these gentlemen (Savage, Lee and Kirk)

                    • McFlock

                      Well, by all accounts Savage was anything but.
                      John A Lee, on the other hand, was famously savage.

                      Whereas Big Norm was just awesome.

                    • Antoine

                      I am becoming still more confused

                    • McFlock

                      Michael Joseph Savage: 1st Labour PM in NZ, hero, saint-level friend of the needy and the poor, possibly ascended into heaven as we lost his corpse.

                      John A Lee: Solid lefty, legend in his own mind, full-on smack-talked the above as the MJS was on his deathbed.

                      Norman Kirk: Third Labour Govt. Fine bloke.

                    • Antoine

                      What do you mean you lost the corpse?? You can’t just lose a corpse! Where did you see it last?

                    • McFlock

                      apparently they were supposed to leave it under the memorial, but… it’s not there. Maybe they forgot. Guess the memorial didn’t work. Anyway, they reckon they found him again with ground radar, but they probably didn’t open it to check.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    Add nominal vs real to that as well. Nominal will typically only rise.

              • lprent

                The short answer is that you could claim costs. The nominal business rate is on profit. You can soak up a lot of unrelated costs in a high profit and thereby reduce costs against personal income.

                One of the side benefits of GST was that it reduced the efficacy of that boondoggle.

        • McFlock

          I wouldn’t mind a link for that myself, draco. Although fizzy’s on “bleat as usual” mode.

      • Psycho Milt 13.1.4

        My daughter recently got after-school work at a fast-food restaurant. It’s worse than when I started work in the following ways:
        1. The pay rate is whatever the currently-legislated minimum is.
        2. The employees are rostered on for however many hours the employer sees fit, at whatever times the employer sees fit.
        3. Working beyond the rostered hours is expected whenever required, but no overtime rates apply.
        4. Breaks are whatever the legislated minimum is, but anyone wanting to take them needs to keep in mind that they get the shifts their employer wants to give them.
        5. Ditto imagining you might claim sick leave or annual leave.
        No doubt there are a lot more I don’t know about – I’m old now and working in a highly-unionised, salaried environment in which the travails of the working class are unfamiliar, so it’s hard to know. My daughter fondly imagines the above are normal working conditions, having no frame of reference.

        • weka

          That’s the scary bit, that’s it so normalised now.

          Does she have an employment agreement?

        • Antoine

          Do you know that things were different for similar student jobs in the 90s? I know people who eg worked in supermarkets at that time and I’m not sure if it was much different from what you describe.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Something tells me that PM didn’t start working in the 1990s.

          • Psycho Milt

            Given that the unions were defeated in the early ’90s (Employment Contracts Act was 1991), conditions might well have been not much better in the 90s. I’ve only heard of this zero-hours thing in recent times though, likewise the importing of Third-World labour. It’s taken a while for things to get as bad as they are now.

            Weka: yes, she has a contract but it’s an individual one standard to the franchise and not up for negotiation – sign it if you want the job.

            • Antoine

              The 3rd world thing has been going on for a decade at least, is my reckon

  14. Incognito 14

    I thought the Stuff article was quite reasonable. It rightly mentions social and logistic issues but the emphasis is on the overly complicated and almost-contradictory welfare system with counter-productive and “unintended consequences”.

    Jess Berentson-Shaw has been advocating UBI; in fact, the same author of the Stuff article (Susan Edmunds) cited her and her work in a very recent piece in Stuff: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/90908978/Researcher-Time-to-test-if-universal-benefit-works

    Hardly “an old argument from the political right”, is it?

    To me the general response to this article feels conditioned and unnecessarily negative, which is not conducive to a healthy debate or a constructive and positive dialogue. Even the named & quoted (and pictured!) employers cop a dose of negative criticism that seems unwarranted IMO.

    • Mrs Brillo 14.1

      I thought it was a reasonable piece of writing, too – sounds like some of these people never read it all the way through.
      Certainly, the sub said one thing in the headline, but the journalist’s conclusions were quite different.

  15. Mrs Brillo 15

    Also, as far as these summer or seasonal short-term jobs go, when I was studying (back when dinosaurs roamed) every summer the tertiary students would head for the orchards and Wattie’s fields to get the summer crops in and to get some savings to live on during the year. The pay was rubbish, and for many they roughed it living in dormitory huts in these rural and farming areas, but it served its purpose. Working in horti/agriculture kept a lot of students going, and they kept those businesses going as well.

    Today, students have fewer summer jobs to go to – but they also have access to student loans credit, which my generation never did. So the students borrow, and defer their savings till they are earning permanent wages. Their summer holidays are often spent as holidays, or travelling overseas. Not too many picking crops.

    The crops still need bringing in each summer, but the economics have changed, as this author pointed out. The isolation, the dormitory style accommodation and the rubbish wages are now unacceptable to locals, and temporary overseas workers are brought in to take up the slack.

    All rather Theory of Rising Expectations, isn’t it? I’m old enough to have watched it happen.

    • Antoine 15.1

      Squares with my recollection from the early 90s

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      Today, students have fewer summer jobs to go to – but they also have access to student loans credit, which my generation never did.

      What makes you think that students want to take on all that debt?

      It’s not as if they have a choice.

      The pay was rubbish, and for many they roughed it living in dormitory huts in these rural and farming areas, but it served its purpose. Working in horti/agriculture kept a lot of students going, and they kept those businesses going as well.

      So, because students were exploited before it’s Ok to exploit them now?

    • Nic the NZer 15.3

      The employer in the article literally said they were looking for people who wanted a few months work and then sat around on unemployment for a few months. Doesn’t sound like they were looking for students at all.

      Frankly this sounds like such a daft thing to say to the media I wonder if this was instigated by the TOP party.

      • lprent 15.3.1

        The problem with that is that there is a stand down period before you can get back on welfare. Bearing in mind that picking is usually low wage and not exactly stable employment (ie employers are known to dump people when there is bad weather), I’d guess that anyone who was rational would stay on welfare.

        Now I suspect I will get a lot of numerically illiterate idiots trying to say this isn’t so. So prove it. Look at the wages, extra transport costs, WINZ standdown periods, that WINZ force you to repeat meaningless courses, and cost the return over the whole period of employment + standdown + dole.

        The probability is that they would earn a way less by working a short job and then trying to get back on the dole. That is because that is how WINZ have their system set up.

        • Nic the NZer

          Yes, its hardly a surprise the employer is struggling to find willing people to work based on what WINZ and their terms will be. The only party not negatively portrayed in the whole article appears to be TOP hence my last paragraph.

    • mpledger 15.4

      I was at uni in the late 80’s and from what I remember getting into watties in the summer was a real money earner whether picking or in the factory. The factory was especially good because of the shift work and overtime.

  16. NZJester 16

    There are times when you are on seasonal work when you can not even be sure what your weekly wage will be. The price you receive goes up and down depending on the variety you pick, so you might put in more work one week and get paid less than the week before. Then there are the weeks where you might get less than the benefit due to bad weather or the next variety has not ripened yet and still needs a few more days so you are put off till then. Getting a top up a lot of the time from work and income can be a nightmare with a lot of red tape. You might be unable to make it in once you get an appointment as the weather might be fine again and you can not take time off and risk some of your next weeks pay on something they could turn you down for leaving you even more out of pocket. Sometimes some of the equipment supplied can be old and the regulars normally get in and pick through to get all the good gear first before the boss has told the newcomers where it is stored.

    • Antoine 16.1

      Yeah, but isnt this how it’s always been?

      • Draco T Bastard 16.1.1

        It’s always been bad and so it should always be bad.


        • Antoine

          I was engaging on PM’s claim that wages and conditions are far worse now than they used to be

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            …which Draco posted evidence of four hours earlier (, so you can stop lying to yourself.

  17. adam 17

    Why are we even discussing this?

    Is it more April fools?

    Seriously, who cares, why work when they offer you peanuts?

    Why engage with these people who wreak society, then moan about it?

    Stop already, don’t go to work today.

    Stop already, shouldn’t we be talking about a general strike and organizing one of those instead?

  18. UncookedSelachimorpha 18

    On the original post…. These whinges from employers are common in the media these days (and the nats love it), and in common with the current example, the wages on offer are almost never mentioned! The reporters are very remiss not to pursue this.

    My own entry into the workforce straddled the employment contracts act. I did a job for three years (pre eca) , then went to uni for four. When I came back I got the same job (post eca) for lower wages and worse conditions. Contract negotiation was “sign this or no job”, individual applicants had zero negotiating power, as I’m sure was the intention.

  19. Nic the NZer 19

    Economic theory which would elucidate how NZ became a low wage-low productivity economy.


    In NZ we instead maintain large pools of unemployed to achieve a weak jobs market, weak wage bargaining conditions and via minimal wage growth therefore low inflation rates. But this means weak domestic demand.

  20. Siobhan 20

    Just a note…it was Labour who started the RSE scheme…and Andrew Little was in the Hawkes Bay a few weeks ago saying it was a great scheme (foreign aid he called it), and Labours Anna Lorke is on record calling it a ‘blue print’ for other industries….keeping in mind that the Hawkes Bay is a region with a ‘booming’ industry and some of the most crap wages in the country.
    So just think to yourself…do I really want to compete, in my own country, with people used to earning a few dollars a week?? This would seem to be happening already…our extremely late broad band wiring was installed by a group of Solomon Islanders in the Hawkes Bay.

    Interestingly this appeared in our local paper making the case that land occupied with pensioners would benefit the region more than orchards with foreign labour.


  21. Gretchen 21

    I’m working on the DPB. I have cleaned houses for the last 8 years.
    When I’ve looked at other jobs, they either expect weekend/evening availablity or a 830am start. I Have been offered Horticultural work, with 7am start.
    We’ve in the process of going from a Zero Hour contact to Guaranteed hours

  22. Wither 22

    One of the really big lies when it comes to defending (temporary, often contracted under debt) migrant labour is that migrant labourers are “hired” when locals don’t turn out to be available for work, as though they are all standing in lie together. Not the case.

    The migrant labourers brought into NZ are brought in by labourer hire companies en masse, through pre-arranged contracts between local agents, international hire companies, and the vinyard or whatever farm.

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