Immigration and specialist labour – the CEO’s defense

I heard an interview with the CEO of the metals firm last night in the middle of the immigration furore on Radio NZ. His point was that he had employed specialist Filipinos to fill roles for which there was no local supply. This was during boom time. Local people, on the other hand, were undertaking non-specialist work. As demand for their products fell, there was less specialist work available. So he re-allocated some of the specialist (i.e. Filipino) staff to perform non-specialist tasks in their downtime, and laid off the non-specialist (i.e. local staff). So now the specialist staff are undertaking specialist work when they can, and non-specialist work at other times. Which makes complete sense. You’re not going to lay off the specialist staff or there will be nobody left to do the real work once demand increases!

I feel sorry for the guy trying to run a business while politicians look to score political capital from xenophobia. Embarrassing.

  • Tom Semmens

    Dude, you are taking the guys comments at face value, and even they were 100% true we are talking about welders here. Locals could easily be re-trained to be welders if the employer actually cared about raising the productivity of the New Zealand workforce. But of course he doesn’t, prefering to hire cut-rate foreign workers to do New Zealanders out of a job. I would deport the lot of them, immediately.

  • Tom Semmens :
    Dude, you are taking the guys comments at face value, and even they were 100% true we are talking about welders here. Locals could easily be re-trained to be welders if the employer actually cared about raising the productivity of the New Zealand workforce.

    The cost of having to re-train unskilled workers when you already have skilled workers available would lead to a relatively inefficient outcome and ultimately a loss to the New Zealand economy.

    Tom Semmens :
    But of course he doesn’t, prefering to hire cut-rate foreign workers to do New Zealanders out of a job. I would deport the lot of them, immediately.

    When does a ‘foreigner’ become a NZer?

  • @Tom Semmens

    So you are saying that migrants are second class citizens to New Zealanders?

    I would also note that “cut-rate” is a silly claim to make when their is a minimum wage – if they are willing to work for a lower wage than New Zealand workers, then the New Zealand workers are refusing to work for a fair wage – it is their problem if they aren’t willing to work, why blame migrants?

    “I would deport the lot of them, immediately.”

    Ahhh, so you are saying that non-New Zealanders are inferior – I don’t accept that assumption, so I’m not going to support that policy my friend.

  • Robbie

    @Tom Semmens

    Tom, your arguement needs more economics, and less prejudice.

  • Tom Semmens

    When does a foreigner become an New Zealander? This case seems pretty cut and dried to me. They were allowed here on a work visa, in the VERY recent past. They do not possess residency nor are they citizens by birth or naturalisation. As for as being inferior, with clear racial implication, – those are your words, not mind. I wouldn’t care if they were blue eyed and blonde haired Aryans from Austria imported for their expertise in basement building. Trying to stick a “racist” label on defending the right of New Zealanders to have first call on jobs in their own country – even if it means retraining – is cultural cringe nonsense.

    Oh and more economics, less prejudice? You mean like all the economists who have right royally screwed up the worlds economy?

    Economists have been completely discredited for the medium to long term.

  • Tom Semmens :
    Trying to stick a “racist” label on defending the right of New Zealanders to have first call on jobs in their own country – even if it means retraining – is cultural cringe nonsense.

    You’re favouring people from NZ over those that aren’t, even when those that aren’t from here are better suited for the job. That is a xenophobic position whether you accept it or not.

    Tom Semmens :
    Oh and more economics, less prejudice? You mean like all the economists who have right royally screwed up the worlds economy?
    Economists have been completely discredited for the medium to long term.

    Cringe indeed.

  • @Tom Semmens

    You mean like all the economists who have right royally screwed up the worlds economy?

    Equating investment bankers with economists might be a bit of stretch. A more valid criticism would be that economists are strugelling to come up with an answer for how to fix the economy and therefore their credibility to make policy reccomendations is shot.

  • @Tom Semmens

    Hi Tom,

    I indeed did use the word inferior – as that seemed to be your implication. You were saying that we should send people away solely on the basis that they are “New Zealander’s”, people that are already in the country. Now this involves directly assuming that we care more about the New Zealander than other people – as goonix says this is inherently xenophobic no matter how you dress it up.

    Also, if economists have been discredited for the medium to long term – why do firms and government keep running to us for advice? We are the best at what we do – we are NOWHERE NEAR perfect, I agree with that, but we do add some value.

    And I don’t see how economists screwed the world economy – the lack of transparency surrounding CDO’s and out of wack expectations by households are the factors that got us into this mess, and economists didn’t cause either of those things.

  • Tom Semmens

    Yes -I agree with you Matt. When it comes to push and shove, we SHOULD choose New Zealanders over low paid foreign labour. That is not xenophobia, it is common sense.

    Would you approve open slather on immigration, so we can replace everyone New Zealander with someone from the third world willing to work for half the pay or even the minimum wage? Good luck with that policy.

  • @Tom Semmens

    At least you’re being a bit more explicit in allowing your true colours to show through now.

  • StephenR

    That is not xenophobia, it is common sense.

    That is a politician’s answer, usually employed in an effort to get people to agree without having to provide an actual reason i.e. ‘Gee whiz, if he says it’s “common sense”, it must be good! Why else would he say it!?’.

  • StephenR

    @Matt
    Ahhh, so you are saying that non-New Zealanders are inferior – I don’t accept that assumption, so I’m not going to support that policy my friend.
    @Tom
    As for as being inferior, with clear racial implication

    Actually I’ve box’d Mr Nolan’s ears about the difference between nationalism and racism once or twice, he knows how to make the distinction. You seem to think mentions of inferiority can only be a question of ‘race’, despite the fact that you’re clearly talking about non-New Zealanders (the nationality) being inferior as the whole basis of your argument. Basically you’re running an ‘inherently inferior on the basis of nationality’ argument.

  • @StephenR

    Dodged the term racism this time mate, as I agree this isn’t focused on a specific race or explicit 🙂

    However, I’m still on the border of using xenophobia – as it does involving valuing the welfare of “non-New Zealander’s” differently to New Zealander’s. Nationalism seems a bit broader to me – as it includes “co-operation” and the nice things as well.

    I think inferiority was too much of a broad word – if I had to write it again I would definitely say “value non-New Zealander’s less”.

  • @Tom Semmens

    Tom, I realise that many people feel like that – and I’m happy for you to directly say it. But I just do not agree that we should value people here more than other people – we are all people ultimately.

    Yes, if we let everyone in at once wages would collapse – and I realise that such a policy is ridiculous because it would lead to social problems and infrastructure problems.

    However, it does indicate that the only reason our wages remain so high is because we refuse to allow other people, who are willing to work, at a lower wage, into the country. This would improve their lives, it would lead to greater production, and if the whole world did it a lot of people would be a lot better off.

    Instead we will keep our borders closed, and just watch the very poor on TV …

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  • StephenR

    Matt,

    Well as seen throughout history there are degrees of nationalism,. Xenophobia is just fairly intense nationalism, so one could legitimately be talking about both at the same time, IMHO.

    I think inferiority was too much of a broad word – if I had to write it again I would definitely say “value non-New Zealander’s less”.

    Fully agree.

  • @Matt Nolan
    I kinda wish this was the sort of post where I could disagree with you just for the sake of having someone disagree with something that most believe to be true. I’m really saddened at the level of xenophobia and lack of humanity shown by those who oppose your views in this series of posts. That political leaders across the board seem to echo those views, rather than standing up for the right of humans to be treated equally, is appallingly unsurprising.

  • @StephenR

    I think I stuck with a loaded term like inferior because I was a bit wound up about the whole thing – I find it quite painful when people sugar coat the idea that one person is worse less than another. However, this isn’t up to the sort of objective standards I aim for – so I’ll definitely try to be more careful.

    What can I say – economists are also part human

  • @rauparaha

    I think there is always a way that we could make an argument that could support this sort of policy (we can make any argument deep down) – but the value judgments required are so foreign to me that I just wouldn’t feel right doing it!

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  • Tom Semmens

    I don’t understand how you can continually conflate looking after number 1 (i.e. our own, indigenous workforce) with xenophobic dislike of foreigners. It is a mischievous and it seems deliberate attempt to label anyone who doesn’t agree with your pie-in-the-sky economic purism as a racist.

    That someone from somewhere else might lose as a consequence of looking after ourselves is unfortunate, but it hardly racist. Surely the evidence of the last twenty five should inform us that if we can’t look after ourselves, no one is going to do it for us. As a country we have to do what is best for us, because no one else is. To think otherwise is to be an economic cargo cultist. They have their own government and society to look after them. If it isn’t as good as ours that is just the way the cookie crumbles.

    And the reason political leaders in a democracy echo these views are because most people in a democracy agree with them. Now, for all I know you may all consider democracy in a nation state to be a bothersome roadblock on the road to economic nirvana. You may all be Brashite technocrats, and firmly believe in the moral imperative to lie to the voters in order to enact an ideological agenda that they might not like but which you in your monopoly on wisdom know is best. But if you believe in democracy then consider this – if John Key was to stand up tomorrow and say it was open slather on immigration, Pierre or Fritz or Wahsui or Rabindra can be recruited from anywhere to do your job and the only standard is the minimum wage his government would not last three weeks let alone three years.

    We like to compare ourselves to Scandinavian countries. Yet those countries only have the sort of wealthy, welfare state societies they do have because they are pretty much racially and culturally homogenous, and have been kept that way quite deliberately. The same applies to a slew of other countries – Switzerland, The Netherlands and Italy spring to mind – where the tension of some immigration has led to REAL xenophobia, immediate curtailing of immigration or outright expulsions. Yet no one criticises Sweden or Norway, far from it. As sovereign states they have an absolute right to dictate who can and who cannot settle in their country. And so does New Zealand.

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