Monday, March 02, 2009

Who was missing from the jobs summit?

There has been a heap of discussion both in blogs and newspapers about who was missing from the job summit. There were just about 200 people there and only 30 of them were women, 2 were people with pacific island heritage, and only one person was Asian (and Asia is a big continent).

But I think that way of looking at the summit misses the point. The jobs summit was full of people who had cut jobs over the last 12 months, and empty of people who had lost them. The reason it was short of women, Pacific Islanders and Asians, is because it was short of workers, and 14 union leaders are not a substitute for that. The number of Maori at the jobs summit was about representative, but the Maori who attended were not.

The discussion about whether there were enough women there distracts from the main question, which is whose interests are being served here?

I found it grotesque that a bunch of people whose average income would have been considerable over $100,000 thought that cutting people who earn considerably less than that wages by a tenth was an acceptable option (the government has already ruled out making up that extra day's pay).

The proposals are about making life better for businesses. Which when it comes down to it was the entire point of this summit: trying to maintain the fiction that the interests of workers and the interests of businesses are one and the same thing.

PS (just because it's been bugging me): A cycle/walk way the length of the country may provide 4,000 temporary jobs (and more on the nature of those jobs in another post). But geographically many of the jobs created are going to be a long way from the jobs that were lost. I wonder if that's a design feature of the plan, rather than a flaw. I'd be surprised if the idea of punishing the job-less has entirely disappeared, and this plan could end up resembling the work camp (and one of the other suggestions from the job summit was to up the intra-national market for labour)

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