Friday, November 27, 2020

Labour sells out kiwis

So, Labour has given in to the whining from farmers, and will be allowing 2,000 RSE workers into the country to pick their fruit, though with tighter conditions: they'll have to be paid a living wage and employers must pay for their quarantine. Which sounds good, until you remember that the employers control their workers' accomodation (described by some workers as "“camps”, “prisons” and “reservations”", which is what you get when people are literally forbidden from living in normal houses) and get to deduct its costs, so are in a perfect position to claw back the headline increase through increased charges. So while it might raise wages across the horticultural sector, the actual RSE workers probably won't see the benefit. But hey, this prick will have more peasants to abuse.

But the real cost here is the quarantine spaces. They're a highly limited and contested resource, and the government is saying that they're going to use them to subsidise courgette-guy's bottom line. Every couple of days I see stories in the news about kiwis trapped overseas, separated from their loved ones and forced to wait out there risking death in the plaguelands because they can't get one of those over-subscribed MIQ spaces. And "kind" Jacinda has just said they need to wait longer so this guy can get his courgettes picked. Meanwhile, MIQ workers - who are already quitting because of the conditions - will be expected to risk their lives not so kiwis can return to their families, but for the horticulture industry's bottom line. I wonder how many of them will be willing to do that?

Fuck that. Those quarantine spaces belong to kiwis. And we shouldn't be giving them to businesses until every kiwi who wants to return is home. As for the fruit, let it rot. No-one is going to starve if they don't get their christmas cherries or their fancy wine. Kiwi lives are more important than exporters' profits.