Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Another criminal industry

Another day, another whine from an industry dependent on cheap foreign labour. This time its farm contractors, who are arguing that unless they get to bring in potentially infected foreigners, the crops will rot in the fields. But some of their "arguments" seem to be more admissions of criminal intent:

Other knock-on effects included health and safety issues, a shortage of animal feed for next winter, mental health concerns and even possible environmental problems.

Using less than competent people to operate the machinery along with the probable fatigue that would come with working long hours because of understaffing, was dangerous. Contractors were experiencing significant stress and anxiety because of the problem, he said.

So basicly they're threatening to use untrained staff, and work them for such long hours that accidents become more likely. Both are straight out violations of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and in particular an employers primary duty of care (e.g. to ensure safe systems of work, provision of training, and safe conditions of work). Violating that duty is punishable by a fine of $500,000 - or $1.5 million if it exposes people to risk of death or serious injury (as accidents with agricultural machinery do). In other words, they are saying that their industry are criminals, and that WorkSafe should commence an immediate, sector-wide investigation to identify unsafe conduct and practices so that they can be improved.

As for the "danger" that food will go unharvested, New Zealand exports over 90% of its agricultural produce. The only "danger" here is to the bottom lines of greedy farmers, and it is long past time they were forced to clean up their act, hire kiwis, and adopt safe labour practices.