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Unemployment and Foreign Workers

I bet if you attended the Field-Days that you did not hear too much about the way in which the dairy industry (and the retirement home industry for that matter) has become almost totally dependent on imported labour, mainly Philippino, to do jobs that our own unemployed are reluctant, if not totally resistant to undertake. 

We have seen it over and over with the kiwifruit industry where inported Indian labour almost completely dominate periodic activity (and incidentally, Indian purchasers are now becoming very prominent in the purchase of kiwifruit properties). Not much about this appears in the papers, or about New Caledonian & Thai  labour pruning and picking in Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago vineyards. 

Just to show that we are not alone in the movement take a look at this article from today's NY Times on the importation of Thais into Portugal to pick berry-fruit. 

All in all, it is probably inevitable, and not a bad thing that this movement takes place, but it is equally important that our labour laws are adequately enforced to ensure that exploitation is kept to a minimum. The way in which dairy farmers are attempting to 'average' hours to extract the maximum benefit from their imported lablour is a good example of some of the more reactionary practices that have been developing. It certainly has the effect of entrenching unacceptably low minimum wage levels in these industries. 

If we are not careful, we will end up with a racially stratified labour force that may come a complete surprise to the vast majority of the population, and from which a whole new range of social ills will emerge. Quite apart from entrenching the unemployment benefit as a totally acceptable alternative lifestyle, this will have have the effect of preventing the reduction of 'child poverty' that we hear so much about, and for which multiple explanations are provided, none which appear to recognise this particular aspect - I wonder why?

I don't know that this situation is widely known - it should be!




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