This week the Prime Minister John Key (also Minister for Tourism) confirmed that the government is to pour $1 million into the ‘100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games‘. It was also announced that Tourism New Zealand had obtained the naming rights sponsorship deal on the event.
Further cutbacks on Tertiary Education
In the last few days it’s been announced that $1 million in redundancy payments to Otago Polytechnic staff pushed the institution to its worst financial result in 5 years. Meanwhile, three Government-funded tertiary student scholarships (Step Up, Bonded Merit and Top Achiever doctoral schemes) have been axed to save $98 million.
I think we’re beginning to see where the future of New Zealand’s youth will be headed: the low paid service sector industry, tourism and prison management.
Now the Maritime Union has spoken out in a press release against the NZ government’s plan to facilitate McDonalds’ expansion of its trading base by ‘helping’ the company to recruit 7,000 people over the next 5 years:
“The Maritime Union says the National Government’s plan to act as a compulsory recruitment agency for McDonalds fast food chain is a travesty.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has described an agreement between WINZ and McDonalds that will provide up to 7000 unemployed workers for the fast-food chain’s growth plans over the next five years.
Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says the scheme has two beneficiaries – a Government with a failing jobs policy, and a global corporation that will suck profits out of New Zealand.
He says the scheme is condemning working class young people to a dead end future.
Low wage, casualized trap
“The fact is that for most people, working in these jobs is not a career path, it is a low-wage, casualized trap.” He says he is interested how many children of National Party MP’s are being sent off to develop their careers as burger makers.
Mr Hanson says that claims that such “McJobs” will provide a career path are similar to the burgers. “They always look good in the ads but when you eat them they never live up to the promises.”
Mr Hanson says that thousands of skilled jobs in manufacturing are being demolished, and freezes in funding for polytech places will keep young people out of training. He says young New Zealanders should have the opportunity to work in areas like the maritime industry or the fishing industry for decent wages.
“Yet what we see is underpaid and often exploited overseas crews working in New Zealand waters while local people are shovelled towards the dole or the chip fryer.”
Social divison, inequality and erosion of family life
Mr Hanson says the current scenario is that New Zealand is going to have a massive low-wage sector that would breed enormous social divisions and problems. He says secure, wellpaid jobs have long been under attack in New Zealand, as profits ballooned but workers saw their incomes shrink.
“Under the current Government we are only seeing two areas of employment growth, prison staff and fast food, if this is a success I’d like to see what a failure looks like.”
Mr Hanson says the toll of casual jobs, multiple jobs, irregular hours and shift work in a “24 hour society” was causing massive social inequality and disruption to family and community life, leading to stress, health issues, crime and family breakdown.”
In October of last year health chiefs called for southern health boards to cut ties with fast food companies such as McDonalds to fight a dramatic rise in obesity. Otago DHB public health group manager Pip Stewart criticised ” the health sector’s willingness to form links with fast food outlets when it should walk away, as it does with tobacco and alcohol companies.
Sponsorship from the likes of McDonald’s would contradict promoting good nutrition and physical activity, needed to reverse the rise in obesity.” See McHospitals
230,000 kids live in unacceptable poverty
22% Kiwi kids live in unacceptable poverty – that’s 230, 000 youngsters according to a report prepared for Barnados and Cindy Kiro the Children’s Commissioner. Cutting back on training and investment and condemning 7,000 young people to low paid futures in the prison service and fast food joints makes for a pretty dismal future. What a pity the ‘New Zealand Lifeback Promise‘ only extends to tourists.
Wouldn’t it be better to use some of the massive profits that companies like McDonalds make and put it toward building a better future for all of New Zealand’s young people – use it to fund education, training courses and apprenticeships. Why condemn another generation to a minimum wage subsistence where the only bright thing will be the golden arches on every high street.