Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: To have a home

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  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to chris,

    If someone is homeless and in desperate need, should you offer them accommodation when you know that your place might actually be a death trap?

    Yes. The homeless person is not comatose. You can tell them what the risks are at your house, "it's not much, but it's home", and give them the option. They may not take it, of course, in the same way that the current refugees would generally rather not settle in Hungary or Greece despite the fact they are not in immediate danger there: understandably, they would prefer to go somewhere they are welcome and have at least some chance to forge a better life for their families.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Key's problem is almost certainly that his focus groups tell him the majority of muddle Nu Ziland is afflicted with a serious case of Islamophobia, and beyond that we've ALWAYS had a degree of xenophobia about foreigners in general (yes the irony is not lost). After all, if New Zealand has a foundation myth it is that of the noblest race of savages building a new nation with the best of the British, untainted by inferior peoples. So on the one hand, he has elite opinion demanding he do the morally right thing, while on the other his focus groups are telling him that most people in his support base are secret Tories when it comes to these refugees. Many people I talk to are informed largely by a media that parrots the Daily Mail, and are terrified of repeating the "failed" immigration policies of the EU and creating terrorist havens on home soil.

    And how can you blame people of having a fortress mentality? Key himself has whipped up fear of Islamic extremism to justify all sorts of new spying powers. If you trust that nice man Mr. Key, then how can you not believe we are under siege from shadowy ISIS sympathisers, and need to be constantly on the alert?

    Anti-Muslim feeling is the elephant in the room no one is talking about in this tragedy.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    With apologies to an unnamed journalist in Australia, Mr Key, being the son of a WW2 refugee, has basically "slammed the door behind him".

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Key himself has whipped up fear of Islamic extremism to justify all sorts of new spying powers. If you trust that nice man Mr. Key, then how can you not believe we are under siege from shadowy ISIS sympathisers, and need to be constantly on the alert?

    But That Nice Mr Key has made sure our spy agencies can keep close watch on all those dirty jihadis who hate our freedumb and will be coming here under the guise of fleeing from dirty jihadis who hate our freedumb. He's got our best interests at heart, That Nice Mr Key.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Mr Key, being the son of a WW2 refugee, has basically “slammed the door behind him”

    That's the MO of this Cabinet, really. Pull-ya Benefit hauled up the TIA ladder behind her.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    He's got our best interests at heart, That Nice Mr Key.

    Explained here in Bryan Gould's article

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Attachment

    “it’s not much, but it’s home”

    That would be a good start. I'm definitely experiencing acute cognitive dissonance with regards to these issues.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    They begged for the Syrians, he did nothing, he was not a Syrian.
    The Aliens came and said "Take me to your leader", I did nothing, I was too embarrassed.
    To paraphrase Martin Niemöller.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    With housing and health research – and a bit of respiratory health and infectious disease on the side – being my day job, I’m pretty well-acquainted with the condition of the national housing stock. So when I say “it’s not much, but it’s home”, I’m well aware that in some cases it really isn’t much. Still: Yes, there are certainly risks in our poor housing and in the struggles refugees and migrants can face trying to get any work, let alone meaningful work, here; but those risks are of a different order to the daily risks people face in refugee camps trying to avoid violence and get enough food, before they even start worrying about an education for their children.

    That’s part of why I would prefer to see the refugee quota raised than a few one-off additional intakes of Syrians. I prefer to avoid competitions over whose suffering is greater, but I don’t see much difference between the plight of Syrians in Al Zaatri, and, for example, Somalians in Dabaab, or any of the people in other camps and conglomerations of the displaced around the world.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I have just been told that refugees are only allowed to go to 4 centres in NZ, presumably Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
    The person I heard this from lives in Whangarei. "The wife and I tried to volunteer a spare bedroom to house a refuge or refuge couple but were told that refugees could only be resettled in four New Zealand towns."
    How true this is I don't know but it wouldnt surprise me, especially after reading this...
    REFUGEE SETTLEMENT
    New Zealand Resettlement Strategy
    .
    And this...
    Refugee resettlement factsheet

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    but those risks are of a different order to the daily risks people face in refugee camps trying to avoid violence and get enough food, before they even start worrying about an education for their children.

    Thanks Lucy, when you put it that way it becomes a very low brainer, my concerns are trivial by comparison, but this seems to be the thread to air them. Above DeepRed said:

    Mr Key, being the son of a WW2 refugee, has basically “slammed the door behind him”

    Looking long term, all things considered his family did immigrate here during the First National Government. which may have been a different beast at the time, but there hasn’t been an extreme shift since left or right since the Shipley administration.

    My wife is a new migrant here this year, though by no stretch a refugee. She was lucky to have found a job here in May working for migrants who pay her minimum wage, she spends 9½ hour days per day on her feet, in an unheated workplace (even the customers complain), with no morning or afternoon tea break, a lunch break that only lasts as long as it takes her to eat her sandwich, no sick leave or holiday pay, a zero hour contract and it remains unclear whether income tax is being paid. On her first day the boss’s dad, who arrived here on a family reunification visa a few years ago took her aside and gave her a persuasively glowing speech about John Key and this National Government, replete with Maori bashing. This is New Zealand 2015. The hand that feeds.

    As far as providing an education goes, John Key received his here.

    The essential preliminary step is increasing the intake but the:

    wrap-around service

    as John Key puts it, clearly needs a great deal more work to ensure the same conversation threads aren’t again rearing their ugly heads 50 years from now. The fact that increasing the intake by such a negligible margin has been a bone of such contention for this Government is ample evidence that this “service” is dysfunctional. Welcome to New Zealand, we trust you will enjoy your Serco home and grow up to be like Mike or John or Bill or Judith or Nick or Gerry or Murray, your more than generous hosts, I shudder.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to chris,

    My wife is a new migrant here this year, though by no stretch a refugee. She was lucky to have found a job here in May working for migrants who pay her minimum wage, she spends 9½ hour days per day on her feet, in an unheated workplace (even the customers complain), with no morning or afternoon tea break, a lunch break that only lasts as long as it takes her to eat her sandwich, no sick leave or holiday pay, a zero hour contract and it remains unclear whether income tax is being paid.

    Oh Chris, for someone who is doing a valuable job such as hers , I am sorry to hear of her appalling conditions.It pisses me off that someone can abuse another human being in this way.There must be a local MP worth discussing this with.She is definitely entitled to a half hour lunch break if nothing else. And holiday pay and sick leave is her right :(

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Thanks Sofie, obviously the risk of discussing this with someone in authority could be her ending up with no job at all, but yeah, once she finds something less demanding, though it’s hard to say how long that will take. Personally I was like “wow you’re earning minimum wage!”

    - having worked for this company for three years at 10USD an hour. Obviously It’s trivial compared to what the refugees are facing, but heck isn’t this place on a downward trajectory or what.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to chris,

    If she's gone past the rubbish trial period, then you can't be fired for discussing your employment terms and conditions.

    No sick pay is illegal. No holiday pay is illegal, except in limited instances of your truly being a casual worker, in which case you must get a holiday loading on your hourly rate. You must have a reasonable opportunity for a rest break, but this is a bit industry-dependent. For example, restaurant kitchens can be a bit useless for breaks. But not factory or most service work. It is illegal to fail to deduct PAYE or pay it to IRD.

    I suggest talking to the Unite Union (or Service Workers). I personally would be also cutting straight to the chase and phoning the Employment Ministry on 0800 20 90 20, to find out her rights. She should explain that she is worried about losing her job if she approaches the employer directly. The union will be good for support and advocacy.

    Please check out media reports of successful employer prosecutions. There are plenty, including a few employers who are relatively recent migrants themselves, and who were perhaps seen as "helping" their compatriots, when in fact they are fully aware of their obligations, and are simply ripping off the more vulnerable.

    While our employment rights have been seriously eroded, there is still a core that remains, and which is actionable. Not just if you have fancy lawyers.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to TracyMac,

    Thanks for that help Tracy, I discussed these suggestions with her, but she’s not prepared to take those kinds of steps at this stage – that is despite her boss’s dad losing his temper at her twice today – as she said to me “you know my culture…”, but I’ll look into it. If she had as many job opportunities as she has avenues to resolve employment disputes we’d be sailing.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to chris,

    I won't keep banging the drum, but here's an encouraging story from just today: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11509633

    :-)

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to TracyMac,

    Attachment

    Yeah I saw that one, it certainly offers some perspective. I try to keep abreast of this kind of thing as every single job I had in China including here, this company, the company listed above, and, in fact all of them - were breaking some law or another. Be it localising (rigging) standardised international English qualification exams, falsifying compliance with (AQF), breaching visa laws and just generally up to no good. In fact it was my intent on moving back to New Zealand to get legal advice to see if I could chase up the local branch of EF for a breach of contract by a division of their country, but when you spend long enough in an environment where those kinds of conditions are the norm, in that kind of culture – the kowtowing, the submission – you lose a great deal of energy and enthusiasm for righteous conflict, much less if you’re born into it. So if my wife doesn’t wish to pursue the matter all I’m really amenable to doing is passing on your information, which -don’t get me wrong – is thoroughly appreciated.

    I’m going to put down the issues at Education First, because they’re too big to fail and as the McDonald’s of the ESL world they should be doing better, and if I don’t put it down somewhere it’ll eat me up forever.

    As I understand it, EF purchased their online teaching division sometime in the late naughties. On doing so they halved instructors’ pay to 10USD per hour resulting in a mass exodus of teachers. As part of the new recruitment wave this history was not revealed to us until about a year later when one of the old guard had an episode. There were a lot of episodes there. The job was cool, we could teach group lessons, private lessons, or correct writings at a rate of $9 for 9 articles. I only ever chose to teach group lessons.

    Most fulfilling was never knowing who you were going to teach and the opportunity it offered to engage with people from all over the world, literally; Saudi Arabians, Brazilians, Pakistanis, Emaratis, Vietnamese, Japanese, Koreans, Chileans, Argentinians, Indonesians, Thais, Germans, French, Italians, Spaniards, Iraqis, Yemanese, Russians, Khazaks, Taiwanese, Malaysians, Mexicans, Equadorians. It was an opportunity to meet some truly amazing people and hear some details of fantastic life stories.

    Teachers were required to write a minimum 80 word comment and grade every student within 24 hours of the class up to about 12 students. If there were technical issues preventing the instructor from teaching the onus was on the teacher to provide screen caps showing they entered the class on time. Teachers were graded by students and any teacher falling below the threshold would receive a warning threatening dismissal. This was problematic in that student encountering tech issues would invariably give low grades. The company employed me despite full knowledge that I did not have a Chinese work visa and that this was illegal, concerns about this were brushed aside based on the fact that for the most part we were working off US based servers and being paid from Switzerland.

    In 2012 it was announced that teachers were no longer permitted to direct students to that marvelous resource of information that is the internet, from that point teachers were only permitted to direct to EF® branded course ware, if their ware didn’t cover the issue, as was invariably the case, then education was relegated to second place. In 2013 the rate for correcting writings was increased from $7 for 9 writings to $7 for 11.

    Although private lesson students paid for a class whether they attended or not, in April 2014 it was decided that those teaching private lessons would no longer be paid if their students were a no show, regardless of the fact that the instructor had had to plan the lesson and set aside the hour, they would however be paid for the hour if they corrected 9 writings. In May 2014 it was decided that they would only be paid for the hour if they corrected 11 writings. In June 2014 there were no more articles left to correct so private lesson teachers weren’t paid for any class until the writings replenished. In July 2014 it was announced that private lesson teachers would be required to correct 13 writings in order to be paid for a student no show hour.

    By mid-July 2014 the tone in the company’s internal forums had become so heated it makes something like this seem as jovial as a PAS word of the year thread, IRS investigations and strikes were on the cards.

    In September 2014 changes were announced to the group lessons (which had remained untouched until that point). On the upside teachers would now be eligible to earn a bonus of $1 per hour if they could surpass a reasonably difficult student evaluation average score over a three month period, on the downside teachers would no longer be allocated classes as before. Rather than being paid $10 for turning up to teach or not teach as the case may be, teachers would instead have to log in to a waiting room 5 minutes before a class to queue up for the privilege of teaching. Classes would be allocated randomly from the hour (start time) up to 13 minutes past. Teachers would not know what class or level they were teaching until they arrived in the class with the students, they were kind enough to make a video about this here.

    Under this new system private lesson teachers whose students didn’t show up would now be paid $4 for turning up and the full 10$ if they corrected 6 writings, if the cause of there being no student was a late cancellation they would be required to correct 10 writings in order to be paid for the class. In the case of a group lesson class not being allocated a teacher would be paid $3 for up to an18 minute wait, and paid for the full hour if they also corrected 7 writings. It was all beginning to feel a little like this, except that the job requires a bachelors degree and an ESL teaching certificate. Many of the employees are victims of redundancies filling in time until retirement.

    On the internal forum I suggested that as writings could now only be corrected in lieu of class time, it did now appear to be in teachers’ interests to only take the $3 or $4 dollars for showing up, until such time as the writings built up to such an extent that the company would be forced to reconsider these new cutbacks. This was met with a prompt response from the 5th manager in 3 years in the form of an email informing me that EF’s legal department had just contacted him (on October 1st, National day, a public holiday) that they were not allowed to pay contract workers who are not on an EF sponsored visa in China and that my account would be terminated immediately (in breach of my zero hours contract which stipulated that termination by either party requires one months notice).

    I contacted him a couple of times after this, both to inquire about honouring my contract and to inform him I was no longer based in China but I never heard back. Fortunately the technology has developed sufficiently that it’s now possible to do this type of work privately with only an internet connection.

    So that’s what’s going on with EF, deep in their recesses. But yeah, everyone deserves a home and means of employment capable of generating sufficient self respect.

    - Rated one of the top 10 best employers in China by Zhaopin.com
    - EF is the Official Language Programme Supplier of the Rio 2016 Olympics

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

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