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.