Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Maria Slade…

Who is Maria Slade? Never heard of her you say,

Is she a politician? No but if she were she’d be in the Act or National Party.

Is she a writer or author of note? No she is not, in fact she is unheard of in any artistic field of endeavour.

Well what and who the hell is she you ask out of sheer frustration…bordering on uncontrollable anger…

She is a journalist employed by Fairfax media turning out faux intelligence items about the business world. Well that’s their PR Spin introduction. She is in fact morning editor at the Fairfax Business Bureau. What she does in the afternoon is not known.
One morning a few days ago she wrote these words:

“Hands up who would like a 34 per cent pay rise for doing exactly the same job as you are doing now?  Sound like an impossible dream? Not if you are a low wage worker at the Hamilton and Wellington City Councils”.

She could have written “Hands up who would like a livable wage for doing exactly the same job as you are doing now?  Sound like an impossible dream? Not if you are a low wage worker at the Hamilton and Wellington City Councils, because those councils recognise your desperate financial plight, and they care about the social and economic well being of their loyal staff”. This great friend of the low paid went on to say:

“In return for no additional labour and for not upskilling in any shape or form, the councils have proposed paying their low and minimum income earners up to $4.65 an hour more. This is to meet calls for what has become known as the Living Wage of $18.40 an hour, as compared with the statutory minimum wage of $13.75 an hour”.
So our deeply concerned journalist considers that $13.75 an hour is an acceptable wage and it would appear that she takes her sense of values from the Management team at the Hamilton City Council. She wrote:

Hamilton City's utterly sensible managers warned the elected officers they risked unleashing a monster, with Living Wage campaigners vowing to review the wage amount annually.

Just think about it for one moment, what else would the HCC management say, because increasing the minimum wage to $18.40 would mean that their wage increases would be required to remain static or even fall. For example the CEO’s salary of almost $400 thousand would need to be reviewed downward…and tut-tut you can’t do that.

But Maria Slade’s logic is simply nutty; if we were to apply her logic across the local and national government sector we would instantly cancel the yearly review by the higher salaries commission that automatically gives huge increases to very senior public servants, MP’s, Judges and such like. And those increases are given without a hoot about increased output, upskilling and such like.

Right now who needs an increase most? Is it some one getting four hundred thousand and up to four million? [for CEO’s of banks and other private companies like Fairfax] or those earning $13.75 per hour. The answer is obvious even for someone fully diminished of a social conscience like Fairfax’s morning business editor. She finishes her strange piece on why we shouldn’t pay a living wage with this nasty little paragraph:

“Faced with having to pay people as if they were higher skilled without getting anything in return, employers will lean towards investing in automation and doing away with the lower skilled roles altogether.

For God’s sake can’t she understand they are doing that already, most don’t give a stuff about the low paid. Why can’t she understand that call centres these days are relocating back to NZ because they are cheaper than India or Malaysia

Business decisions must not be dictated by social good campaigns. Absolutely New Zealand firms should strive to pay above the paltry minimum wage, but in the interests of improved productivity, not for altruistic reasons and certainly not to boost local officials' re-election chances”.

I suggest we all spend a moment or two thinking about the paragraph above, and ask ourselves why our ancestors battled against slavery…why did we set a minimum wage, why do we have so-called equal pay for women? No our mis-guided Maria Slade morning editor at the Fairfax Business Bureau sounds more like a Bangladeshi sweatshop owner, or a corporate CEO than a caring employer, with a social conscience.

One last point, Councillors are not local officials, local officials are not elected, just as journalists are not elected but are forced upon us, regardless of talent of writing ability.

If you would like to get in touch with Maria just go

Here is a letter sent by a Wheeler’s Corner reader to our local Fairfax paper.

Dear Sir
Economic Sense
I have not read something as retrograde for some time – Maria Slade’s Opinion piece (Manawatu Standard 8 July)  essentially against paying liveable wages.

What an excellent justification for slavery – why on earth pay people more “simply for turning up.” I guess history has the answer to that.

But people don’t just turn up, they work. But who does get pay increases of 34%, albeit sometimes over a period of a few years – the CEO’s whose legitimacy for such treatment falls by the same logic.

The social and economic sense of more committed workers, able to live in better accommodation, children that get fed and can learn and don’t fill the hospital wards and prisons.
But hey, that’s apparently no concern of the business community, represented by the morning editor at the Fairfax Business Bureau.

That’s why we need systems to ensure the extremes of the “market” and some business leaders are held in check and their impacts countered.

It’s a pity about the death of slavery, although the Bangladeshi and other victims of slave wages wouldn’t agree that the push to pay slave wages has gone. It even still happens here in Godzone.

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