Sunday, August 15, 2010

Workers of the World

I'm afraid I have a million tasks in the first few weeks since getting back to New Zealand, and still haven't found time to produce anything like a coherent blog, though I'm still planning on recounting some amusing stories from my time doing field research.

In the meantime, there's a couple of topics I've picked as highly recommended reading.

The Independent's Johann Hari reports on the incipient attempts of Chinese workers to form their own unions, amidst Dickensian factory conditions which reportedly see 600,000 people a year die from overwork. This piece from Foreign Policy in Focus provides interesting background on how international corporations opposed and helped water down a new Chinese law which would have recognised unions.

Back in New Zealand, there's been a discussion paper released by the Government-appointed Welfare Working Group on "Long-Term Benefit Dependency: The Issues".

Gordon Campbell's take is typically straightforward:

There is a peculiarly airless quality to the working paper, driven as it is by ideology and not by any discernible engagement with New Zealand, 2010. Because the panel pays so little attention to events in the real world – newsflash : the job market has not yet recovered from the worst economic recession since WW11, and that global recession seems about to recur – it could have been written at any time over the last four decades.

The posts and commentary at The Standard here and here are also interesting reading.

When thousands of New Zealanders are out of work because of a recession largely caused by greed and speculation in the world's financial capitals, is it really the right time to be hassling people on sickness and disability benefits to get a job?


Susan said...

Nice new look on the blog - specially the birds and the general layout.

Re the welfare system - absolutely agree - what is so hard to understand about the fact that benefits go up when jobs are scarce. I seem to remember exactly the same thing during the early to mid 1990s when jobs were last very hard to get. Most people on benefits would LOVE to get off them.

Brian said...

I think anyone who is on a benefit without just cause should be persuaded to get a job. The problem is that so many people start from the presumption that most people on benefits shouldn't be.

terence said...

Nice post Simon - Re benefit totally agree.