Alliance Party Dunedin North candidate and trade spokeperson Victor Billot says the loss of around 145 jobs at Cadbury’s in Dunedin was an indicator of the serious problems faced by working people in New Zealand.
“We are seeing a slow motion disaster for working people as secure jobs evaporate in Dunedin and throughout the nation as major players like Fisher and Paykel and Cadbury shut down plant and lay off the workforce.”
He says Dunedin can’t take continual hits like this, and workers needed support, but were unlikely to get it from the current Government or a National Party whose answer to unemployment was to attack the unemployed.
Mr Billot says an unregulated global economy, and the free market and free trade policies pursued by past Government’s, were the underlying causes of DJS (disappearing job syndrome).
“This is not about efficiency, the dedication or skills of our workers, it is about how we respond to a global economic system that is out of control and is bad for workers.”
Mr Billot says that it appears that the Government and National opposition and local Government seemed to have a “possum in the headlights” response to the wreckage of the manufacturing industry.
“Workers have been subsidizing their own jobs as these corporations get rates relief and other support from the Government but clear out when it’s convenient for them.”
He says private corporations had no loyalty to communities and it was time to consider new ways of doing business.
“We have to start asking ourselves whether we need a system where working people and communities control and own these enterprises rather than to be continually cast aside and have their lives disrupted. We need a regulated economy with a strong local manufacturing base, where secure jobs are seen as more important than private profit.”
“New Zealand’s economic base is on the fast track to becoming a farm with a golf course in the back paddock. That is not the recipe for an advanced 21st century society, that is a recipe for an imbalanced economy and a wealth and social class divide.”
Mr Billot says that while high-end technology sector was of great importance, under the current trend, a majority of workers would be condemned to low skill, casualized jobs with low wages and low security unless a more balanced approach to economic development.
He says that the loss of skills and secure employment is a serious threat to New Zealand’s future.
“In a few short years, transportation costs and environmental pressures will mean that local and regional production will become necessary again, but we will have lost the skills and infrastructure by then.”
Mr Billot says the Alliance rejects the narrow minded free market approach and sees the economy as there to serve all of society, rather than just to maximize profits for a minority.