Picking snot

NRT discussed the season for seasonal workers issues. I agree wholeheartedly about the issues in regards to pay. But it’s not just pay, there are some extreme renegade employers out there. I had a friend working on an orchard in Motueka a few years ago and the supervisor drove around the orchard on a quad bike, barely clothed, making completely innapropriate comments to female workers and was armed. Sure, there are employment laws that cover these things but there isn’t exactly a strong union movement amongst seasonal workers and trying to actually stop this kind of behaviour is exceptionally difficult.

But I have also seen the problems of pay. I had a flatmate who was here on a working visa. He was a qualified horticulturalist and worked in a nursery. His application for residency was denied on the grounds that there are plenty of people who could do his job. Sure, but because the pay was so low, noone would. My friend was the first person this particular nursery managed to employ in six months, even though his employer advertised weekly in an area with high unemployment. Go figure.

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5 responses to “Picking snot

  1. I suspect that horticulture will become unprofitable in NZ within the next 50 or so years.

    There are plently of less developed countries that will be able to catch up with our technological/infrastructure advantages and have lower wage structures.

    I don’t think this is a bad thing – they’ll have more people able to earn a decent living, we’ll be able, if we’re sensible, to move on to industries that don’t rely on cheap labour.

  2. Yes, but that does leave the question begging of what we’re supposed to eat. Sure globalisation means we can access products from all over the world, but it’s not particularly sustainable.

    And the other issues are of course the safety of our food. Most NZers want to have a reasonable idea about what’s in or on the food they eat, even if they still chose to eat stuff covered in poison, it’s about choice. Given the latest news that we can’t OIA our own food regulation body when it’s based in Australia, how will we get adequate information from other countries?

  3. I’m afraid the “trading food is wrong” theory is one of the bits of green ideology that I don’t buy.

    Saying that an African, for instance, shouldn’t have the option of working in an export-based agricultural business instead of being a subsistence farmer is denying people the right to develop when we already have.

    Of course their are issues with food safety and labour standards, but in my view it’s better to work with other countries on these than to refuse to import any produce.

  4. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I just don’t believe we should be dependable on foreign markets for basic food supply. If we get to that stage we are leaving ourselves in an incredibly vulnerable position.

  5. Oh I’d agree. But it isn’t basic food that needs lots of pickers – wheat for instance needs a few people and a rather expensive combine.

    It’s commercial export crops like kiwifruit that other countries are likely to be producing cheaply in a few years.

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