Monday, June 07, 2021

Dyson deserves diddly squat

Ruth Dyson recieves a gong for her services to disabled people.

Good Lord.

The minister who forced the minimum wage on sheltered workshops in 2005.

She was warned about the effect but bullocked on. 

Here's a report from my local paper (when it was still worth reading):

Packworx Limited, a Hutt company that provided paid employment to 23 people with intellectual disabilities, closed its doors on Monday last week.

Packworx has been run as a limited liability company since September 2005, and prior to this was part of the Hutt Valley Disabled Resources Trust, which operated as a sheltered workshop for about 20 years.

The split off into commercial and social support entitIes was forced by the then Labour Government's repeal of the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act (1960). It required workshop operations to pay workers the minimum wage and holiday entitlements for reasons of fairness, but also so that they did not undercut other commercial operations pursuing packaging and other small, labour-intensive contracts on price.

Parents and others warned at the time that while the philosophy behind repeal of the Act might be all very fine, the requirement to pay minimum wages to people with intellectual disabilities would place even more of a burden on an operation already on a revenue/cost knife edge.

Packworx chairperson of directors Carolyn Crutch said last week that the downturn in the economy, plus "non-realisation of contracts that were anticipated" meant it was no longer financially prudent for the company to continue to trade.

Fellow director Marlene Wilkinson said it was a step taken with "a great deal of reluctance".

There was "huge emotional attachment" bound up in running of the business and keeping the 23 employees, plus long-time manager Jan Geursen and two other supervisors, in work. But as Packworx was being run as a commercial entity "we have to abide by the Companies Act and its rules". Revenue wasn't going to cover overheads.


David Vance and Barry Jordan of Deloitte have been appointed liquidators.

Mrs Crutch said it was a "major blow" that this happened now, right at a time when the former staff will be up against many others laid off work in a depressed job market.

The Hutt News reported in 2006, that the then Packworx staff of 60 tackled a variety of packing, mailing and shrink wrapping contracts - everything from cutlery for Air NZ to lining bulk laundry powder cartons. The mainstay of the work was the making of 60,000 bird seed balls a month for Masterpet, as well as packing millet sticks and for the dog food market, pigs' ears. Right up until last week, Packworx still had work from Masterpet. "We needed more contracts like that," Mrs Wilkinson said.

The Hutt Valley Disabled Resources Trust, a separate entity, is not affected. However, it's likely that a good number of the former Packworx employees will be eligible to come onto the trust's arts, sports, gardening, life skills and social programmes. Mrs Wilkinson said "down the track", training opportunities for some of the former workers could be explored.

Trust general manager Susan Gray said WINZ has already met with the Packworx staff to discuss benefit and future training options. The HVDRT will be making available its premises in Woburn Rd so that those staff can continue to meet with WINZ, Housing NZ and representatives of other help agencies.

At the time that Labour announced it was repealing legislation covering sheltered workshops, around 3,000 people around New Zealand were employed in the sector. Mrs Gray said some workshops closed immediately and a good number of others shut up shop when the legislation came into full effect on 1 December last year.

There are some entities that continue to run semi-commercial operations employing people with intellectual disabilities, including in Invercargill and the Waikato. 

However, most are "not entirely commercial" like Packworx, with many of the survivors benefiting from contracts dealing with recycling from local authorities.

The Hutt News could not contact Mr Geursen, whose personal drive is credited with much of the success of the sheltered workshop/Packworx over many years.  We understand he is currently overseas.


HUTT NEWS, Simon Edwards.



Juana said...

I well remember what happened as my brother lost his job sanding wooden toys in a sheltered workshop and making paper in another. Since that time before every election, we always remind him that it was the Labour party that took away his job.

I was so angry. I had supported the local IHC by using their team of around 7 to mow my lawns. The men took such pride in their work supported by two supervisors. The lawn mowing operation was shut down because of Helen Clark's government. We told them what would happen but they didn't care. It was a virtue-signalling law that looked good to the ignorant but in reality, hurt the most vulnerable people in our society.

Rick said...

A Price Floor is a sort of Price Control that abolishes an entire market sector of people who are willing to buy and sell with each other. Why?

The moral reason is that the person making the rule disapproves of the choices made by those people. Having the power to abolish it, they command that the workers may not work and the buyers may not buy. The deal they accept with each other is not acceptable to the third party and they shut it down for 'the good of all'.

I used to think this was economic ignorance on the part of people like Dyson and Labour 5.0 but now I've become cynical. Now I think they deliberately eliminated trades like these, jobs likes these, markets like these, on behalf of competitors. When little, competitive, firms are busted that business (and tax revenue) goes to someone else. Cui bono?

What did Ruth Dyson do for disabled people anyway? All Wiki has to say is that she made NZ Sign Language 'Official'. But that's awful. The worst thing you can do for a culture is to take away the responsibility for its own perpetuation/mana/autonomy/funding and give it to government bureaucrats. Now, like Maori, it's a language on welfare.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Juana, I hope your brother has since found employment elsewhere. The whole exercise was utterly baffling. I was an ACT candidate (2008) and must have been standing in for Muriel Newman at a disability advocacy election meeting where Dyson was on the panel. I challenged the minister about the legislation and she adamantly stated there would be no revisiting the issue. Oddly the audience seemed unresponsive but I was approached by two or three afterwards who thanked and agreed with me. But the problem is so many so-called 'charities' recieve govt-funding, so go along with the 'programme'. The IHC did. I stopped collecting for them or donating.

Mark Wahlberg said...

"Official Charities" .Many years ago and on crutches I mistakenly thought a Drivers Mobility card would make my life easier.

I arrived at the CCS office in Palmerston North just as they were shutting the front door at midday.

I knocked and said I wanted to apply for my free pass. The nice lady gave me the once over and told me to come back after lunch, locked the door and pulled the curtain on my dream of special privileges.

Been doing it my own way ever since.

Rick said...

It's a whole different culture between the Labour 1960 and the Labour of 2007. One sees work as a solution, the other sees leisure as the solution.

Some of the Hansard at the introduction of the Act repealed by Dyson..

“One of the tragedies in our community is the plight of that group of people who through
infirmity, physical or mental, are unable to take their part in normal employment and who, because of their disabilities, are inclined to regard themselves as useless human beings with no further purpose in life.” – Gotz, ibid

“There is no doubt that the main desire of a person who is physically handicapped or intellectually handicapped is to take his place in the community in some way. It can be done, even although the field may be limited.” – King, ibid

“They will be able to go along and ask the manager for a job. He may argue, “I don’t know that you would be able to manage because of your disability,” and they will be in a position
to say, “Give me an opportunity to prove myself.” They will be paid according to their worth.” – Sim, ibid


The Slippery Slope said...

The race to the bottom, awarding mediocrity while pursuing egalitarianism.