Via DPF, Duncan Garner endorses the government’s welfare reforms, arguing that low paid menial work was good enough for him when he were a lad:
Currently there are about 15,000 jobs available in NZ on the Seek website.
That’s a fair few.
But many jobs are low paid and part-time. The last Household Labourforce Survey showed there were 15,000 more part time jobs last quarter, but 13,000 fewer full time jobs. It’s a concerning trend. Who wants 15 hours a week on crap money?
People need meaningful sustainable jobs. Flipping burgers is a job; it’s a start, we’ve all done this sort of work.
But it’s true for those entering the workforce for the first time in a long time that they need to start somewhere but they also need a pathway to show them the way out of those jobs too.
I often get accused by some who say I’m a media hack and what would I know about low-paid work?
Well I know something. I know I cleaned the Whitcoulls Queen Street store at 16 in my school holidays for youth rates – about $4.50 an hour at the time. I powder-coated curtain rails for $6.00 an hour in a Glenfield factory a year later. I put lids on toothpaste at the Avondale Redseal factory at the same time to help me pay for my first year at university.
DPF also worked hard as a young ‘un:
Like Duncan I cleaned a store while at school. But I was 14 and got $1.99 an hour for cleaning at Woolworths. I was so proud to be in regular employment, working every day after school plus Friday nights and Saturday mornings. And my first job after university was $22,000 a year only and at one point I was working part-time for $18,000 a year.
Firstly, very few of the jobs on the Seek website are part time (6%) and most of them pay really, really well – but far less than those same roles in other wealthy countries, which is why New Zealand businesses struggle to fill those positions. When low income casual jobs do get advertised they attract huge queues of applicants
– so I think this ‘job snobs’ argument, in which there are loads of menial jobs but beneficiaries are too lazy to take take them is basically false.
Secondly, I also worked at low income menial jobs when I was a teenger, stacking boxes in a warehouse, etc. But I think there’s a huge difference between working that type of job when you’re a kid living with your parents, or a student who can look forward to graduating and earning a much higher salary, and actually working these jobs in perpetuity and trying to support your own family off these very low incomes.
We used to have an economy where even menial jobs had a career path. You worked in a factory and could aspire to a position as shift foreman, or found clerical work and eventually became head typist, etc, but those types of jobs don’t exist any more. Now we just have a large pool of menial workers who earn very low salaries and are among the first to lose their jobs in each economic downturn.
That’s not a big problem if you’re working one of those menial jobs when you’re a student expecting to transition into a high-earning career in the knowledge economy, but it’s a grim prospect if you’re a solo-mum anticipating decades of low-paid insecure menial work once you rejoin the labour market.