Archive for the 'Industrial Ranting' Category

“But they’re too young to be treated fairly”

March 10, 2006

Even though my youth seems to have happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I still remember what it was like to be on youth rates.

It was frustrating, unfair, unjust, and never ceased to stick right in my craw. 

No matter that I often worked harder than those around me, who were, after all, only a year or two older than me, I got paid less, just because I was born after NZ had pulled out of the Vietnam War.  That was how arbitrary it seemed to me at the time, and it still does.

I have no problem with pay systems that are based on experience and skill-base, but I do have a major dispute with paying people differently on the basis of age.  I have friends who never had a paid job until they left tertiary education, in their mid-twenties, while others started part-time work at 13 while they were still at school, and as soon as they were legally able were off, out, in the full-time workforce.  But on the youth rates system the experience of the latter means nothing, while the age of the former counts for extra money in the pocket.  It’s bizarre and unfair.

It makes me angry when I see youth rates adding to the poverty of some of my students.  Although at my school most of those who work part-time do so to pay their cellphone bills or buy a bit of fake bling for themselves or their girlfriend(s), I still find it unfair.  I see them sometimes, working in a shop I’m browsing through, and they really don’t seem to be any more lazy, any less capable, that the university student at the next counter, or the older woman tidying the merchandise.  Imagine how much worse that is for a student, and a family, who actually rely on that meagre income to make ends meet.

For a good rant on the subject, by an actual young person (I think), see Youth Rates SUCK! (it’s amazing what you can find on Google). The comments expose some of the frankly ridiculous arguments that supporters of age-based discrimination frequently trot out to market, as if they were sleek young mares when in fact they are skinny old geldings with ricketty legs.

The Supersize My Pay campaign is also focusing on an end to youth rates, as well as a substantial lift to the minimum wage (to $12 an hour).  They seem to be organising strikes in support of these claims in a number of key youth employers (mainly fast food outlets).  I’ve lifted the picture with this post from their gallery.

The Green Party have put up a Private Member’s Bill to remove youth rates, and Labour have graciously deigned to allow it to go to through the Select Committee process, meaning the public can make submissions on the Bill in the near future.  Keep an eye out, and have your say.



Some people shouldn’t be allowed to be bosses

February 24, 2006

I couldn’t believe my ears hearing about this story on the radio yesterday.  Basically slavery is alive and well, in The Lucky Country.  I guess they mean lucky for the white and wealthy…

Unfortunately I hear less extreme stories of this nature far too often – bosses who seem to think that they have actually bought their workers, and as such can treat them like crap, even outside of work hours. 

This article reminded me of an organisation I know of that has a history of acting in a similar controlling way.  The staff require cars for their work and are allowed to take them home and indulge in reasonable personal use of said vehicles.  Seeing as how there’s basically no way for companies in this country to get around paying Fringe Benefit Tax on company cars (except for locking them all up in a gated yard each night and weekend), this is quite common here.

However this particular company (let’s call it Quasimodo) decided that they weren’t happy with getting their workers to fill out logbooks and provide evidence of receipts for fuel put in for personal driving, they actually put GPS chips in the cars.  And then every morning some idiot Quasimodo manager wastes a whole lot of time reviewing the routes that all these cars have taken since the previous work day ended. 

Why do the workers even know about this?  Because one of them got hauled into Quasimodo’s head office and was severely reprimanded for not getting home until 10pm when they had work the next day.  That’s right – in that company the boss not only owns you from 9-5, they also have proprietary rights over you 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

While this seems tame compared to the poor labourers who suffer regular, severe, beatings in the article I linked to above, it’s on the same continuum – it reminds me of those studies done a few decades ago, before things like Ethics Committees at universities, where one group of students were put in charge of another and those in control very quickly started to abuse their authority. 

Mr Purauto acted as if he were a god – and yet in developing countries this kind of “management” practice is probably reasonably common.  When I heard on the radio that the abused worker was paid 20c an hour I immediately thought of sweat shops and the forced child and prisoner labour many countries use. 

How can we do this stuff to each other?  How can we look at another person and not see a human being but someone so inferior that we can use and abuse them as we wish? 

Sometimes I just despair that we humans will ever evolve enough to avoid destroying each other and ultimately ourselves.