“Kiwi made” obviously means nothing to KiwiRail. The State Owned Enterprise’s latest tendering decision is to outsource the manufacture of its railway couplers, used to connect rolling stock. This will see the Dunedin workers who formerly made them reduced to a four day working week and facing a tenuous future.
The Alliance Party believes local procurement is essential for any government service or local body to provide employment and training opportunities and to ensure money spent goes back to local communities.
KiwiRail management, looking to keep production expenses to a bare minimum to maximize short term profit, says it is cheaper to outsource offshore. The irony of this is not lost on the Alliance – very highly paid executives scouring the globe for the cheapest possible labour to make the equipment needed to run our rail service. And in a world in which poverty and inequality are seen as the most pressing problems.
KiwiRail is a state owned company. We taxpayers own it and many of us are disgusted at its business practices of late. But the government says, under the SOE model, it can’t intervene.
If this is true, it is time to scrap State Owned Enterprises. Essential services, such as KiwiRail, should be under direct government control and accountable to their owners, the people of New Zealand.
Essential services ought to be cost effective but the need to make a profit should never override their obligations to the country as a whole. They must operate for the long term common good. It is the role of the government to make sure they do this.