Unions: More xenophobia

The Union’s want non-New Zealanders fired before New Zealanders.  We’ve seen this type of nationalistic sentiment before, about outsourcing and through Buy Kiwi made.  This is all pure xenophobia – and I hope that our grandchildren will look back on this and be embarrased.

I have three issues with the idea that we should arbitrarily favour “New Zealand” workers:

  1. It presumes there is a limited pool of work – in actuality, having more workers also “creates more jobs.
  2. It presumes that the goal is “jobs” – the actual goal should be to create happiness.  A closer proxy to happiness would be efficient production – not “job creation” (which is just a wild catchphrase).  I realise that creating an environment of gainful employment is important – but the trade-offs have to be kept in mind.
  3. It presumes that we value New Zealanders more than non-New Zealanders.  Surely we are not that racist.

If a business chooses to keep on a non-New Zealander instead of a “New Zealander” it is because they are a better worker, or they offer greater flexibility to the firm.  Why should we impede the liberty of the firm and worker to trade freely just because we want to get an inefficient, inflexible, New Zealander in the job?

And trust me, the argument that Australia is doing it so we should is rubbish – do we really want to say that we have the same attitude to other races that Australia does!

  • Well said, Sir!

    It strikes me as particularly strange and troubling when the Green party spouts this sort of nonsense.

  • If a business chooses to keep on a non-New Zealander instead of a “New Zealander” it is because they are a better worker, or they offer greater flexibility to the firm.

    Indeed, laying off a more productive worker just because they aren’t a New Zealander sounds like a great way to prolong a recession!

  • Too right. How depressing

  • I have agree with what has already been said. If you must lay off someone I would have thought it makes most sense to lay off the lest productive first. Who cares if the are a NZer ot not?

  • mssuec

    Seems to be happening a lot. Singaporean Government has done the same with their neighbours, axing Malaysian workers from Singapore.

  • @Brad Taylor

    I think the Green party is a bit torn. Hence why I suspect there is plenty of room in the country for a “blue-green” party, at least now.

  • @agnitio

    Exactly!! It sounds like madness!

  • @Bernard Hickey

    At least it doesn’t look like it is going to become actual government policy 😛

  • @Paul Walker

    Xenophobic people care methinks – they just don’t like to admit they are being racist 🙁

  • @mssuec

    I remember reading about that – it definitely very sad.

    In that case it is government policy, and it is very forceful. I find these types of situations infuriating!

  • Of course many of those who complain about migrant workers come from the same part of the political spectrum that spouts on about our duty to the Pacific

  • @adamsmith1922

    Very good point 🙂

    I suspect these people also believe that the only way to provide for someone is to do it for them – rather than providing them with the freedom to make their own way …

  • StephenR

    Good stuff.

    Quibble:
    It presumes that we value New Zealanders more than non-New Zealanders. Surely we are not that racist.

    ‘New Zealand’/New Zealander is not a race.

  • Thinking this through:

    If someone is here legally and employed, they should enjoy the same rights and security of any other worker. No question.

    At the same time, the citizens and legal residents of this country should – MUST – enjoy preference over people from outside it.

    Capital may be able to move easily, but workers cannot. If we who live here were to be undercut in our own homeland by cheap, compliant labour imported from somewhere else, there would be a great of unrest……and perfectly understandable.

    That isn’t racism. It’s asserting sovereignty.

  • Kimble

    “At the same time, the citizens and legal residents of this country should – MUST – enjoy preference over people from outside it. ”

    Are we talking about illegal immigrants? I didnt think we were.

    As a rule, I prefer when someone tells me that they just thought something through, that they spend the next few paragraphs explaining their thinking. Telling me you have thought something through and then simply asserting that domestic workers MUST receive more preferential treatment does not do your cause any good.

    It actually makes me doubt you thought it through at all, and that you are just using that as a literary device to preface your opinion (read: knee-jerk reaction).

    “That isn’t racism.”

    A point better made by StephenR. I would point out that xenophobia
    isnt a perfect term either, but still gets the idea across. It is a bias against people not from New Zealand, because they are not from New Zealand. Nationalism is probably to best term.

    I suggest from now on we call the heads of Unions “Nationalistas”.

    “It’s asserting sovereignty.”

    No, it isnt. Asserting sovereignty would be something like fighting to protect domestic citizens from rules placed on them by a foreign country.

  • @StephenR

    My grammar will always be shocking – I will make an effort to improve things 🙂

  • @Steve Withers

    Hi Steve,

    “At the same time, the citizens and legal residents of this country should – MUST – enjoy preference over people from outside it.”

    I understand that the realpolitik argument for this sort of bias is the main argument in favour of it – but ultimately I believe that any such argument is still illustrating a bias against other people, and I don’t think we can value one person over another person.

    More fundamentally, I can recognise that there is some “tipping point” where migration would shake the structure of society – and as a result, any migration must be limited (in the short term). However, there is no role for actively encouraging discrimination – which is what happens when we focus on “Kiwi workers” ahead of their potential substitute.

    Ultimately, I look forward to a day when both capital and labour can move freely – in such a world we can expect a lot less desperate poverty. Only once we have institutional arrangements to allow free movement of labour will we really have globalisation …

  • @Kimble

    “It is a bias against people not from New Zealand, because they are not from New Zealand. Nationalism is probably to best term.”

    You, and StephenR and Steve are completely right about this of course – it is more accurately described as Nationalism because the bias is indirect, or implicit, rather than explicit.

    However, I enjoy using emotive terms in this case – and I also enjoy being corrected on the issue as it teaches me a lot about how the issue is framed and viewed.

  • StephenR

    My grammar will always be shocking

    Heh. Futher, word defintions (racism/nationalism) are not a matter of grammar (rules of use), more a matter of accepted meaning(s) i.e. a vocabulary issue. Anywaaay…

  • @StephenR

    Agreed – but as I mentioned just above I used the more loaded less accurate terms on purpose in order to get people going. It isn’t just the “common meaning” of a word that matters – but the implicit moral judgments that come with it.

    Fundamentally, if I believed that there was no moral difference between indirect and direct discrimination then I could use xenophobia and maybe even racism accurately in this case. Now, I think that is a defendable moral stand-point, but I am willing to accept that it is a bit extreme.

  • If people are going to nit pick, then perhaps in future you could use a broader statement such as

    “My application of the english language is shocking”

  • @agnitio

    Or,

    “You’ll never guess that english is my first language” 😛

  • StephenR

    Gotcha. Note to self – M. Nolan is something of a a Sh** Stirrer 😛

    “My application of the english language is shocking”

    “You’ll never guess that english is my first language”

    HA! Well we commenters will endure, as ever.

  • @StephenR

    Blogging has definitely taught me to write faster. Although, if I wrote at this level for a client I would probably be fired.

    However, feel free to call me up on my constant gratuitous grammatical errors – although note, if you try to say my argument is wrong because I’m illiterate I will get snappy 🙂

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