Sunday, September 26, 2010

Workers Not Bludgers

Adolf ventured down country yesterday morning to insure a young Fijian Indian family against the financial ravages of premature death and or disability.

There was a moment of hilarity before we got down to business. I asked if I could visit the 'little boy's room,' and my client took me down the passage and opened the door to his five year old son's bed room. Oh, the traps of literal translation.

Anyway, after we had concluded the business of the day, we chatted about Fiji.

My client and his wife have been in NZ for four years, he working for the same farm owner the whole time, now managing a herd of 500 cows. His parents own and farm some 40 ha freehold land in Fiji, growing sugar cane. Here, he is paid $40k and has a nice comfortable but small home provided. She works down the road at a glass house complex for $12.75 per hour. They have three school aged children.

In four years they have saved a deposit of over $50k for a house and will apply for residency next year. Apparently five years employment history is significant.

You'd have to wonder how many of our indigenous brothers and sisters have worked their arses off and done as well in just four short years.

You see, part of the answer is "Ve are not drrrinking de alcohol and smoking de cigarettes."

I asked "What do you think of Mr Bainimarama?" The answer was unequivocal and surprisingly vehement.

"He is a werry Grreat Man. No more corruption. All gone. No more crime. All gone."

Now you know why the ordinary working people in Fiji don't want a return to democracy, Qarase style.

Why would you give people democracy when what they really need is a decent feed?


mawm said...

So, why is he not farming the 40ha in Fiji? He is obviously a hard worker and Frank is doing a good job!

Poor schooling?
Poor economy?
Still worried about not being indiginous?

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Would you want to grow sugar cane in Fiji when you could make five times as much money milking someone else's cows in NZ?

The answer likely is your number two. Lousy sugar prices.

Shane Ponting said...

I'm doing without the smokes and drinks too and targeting the debt but there's this thing on my payslip called PAYE and it seems to take an awfully HUGE chunk of my pay each time. Sure hope there's a political party who can do something about this. Wait.......

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Shane Ponting. Stop moaning. If PAYE is taking a huge chunk of your pay, the chunk that is left will be far huger.

Why don't you simply decide how much you will 'save' i.e. put toward debt retirement and then just allow your lifestyle to adjust to what's left? That's how these guys and thousands of others do it.

Can I take it from your smart arse last line you will be refusing to accept your tax cut next week?

KG said...

"Can I take it from your smart arse last line you will be refusing to accept your tax cut next week?"

Pity we can't refuse to accept all the tax increases that you carefully make no mention of Adolf.
There comes a point where support for a political party becomes blind fanaticism, and you passed that point a while ago.

"Why don't you simply decide how much you will 'save' i.e. put toward debt retirement and then just allow your lifestyle to adjust to what's left?"
Why don't you give the same advice to your beloved Nats and suggest the government starts living within our means?

gravedodger said...

My admittedly very minor connections with those who are still living in Fiji under the military dictatorship are very happy with the ability to progress their ambitions in spite of the severely limiting effects of what I see as the stupid and ill-advised positions of the governments of the pacific.
Why the fixation with the corrupt governance of many of the pacific nations as being acceptable while totally opposing the reforms that the Commodore is attempting in the face of the stupid constitution that the misguided Arch Bishop and others imposed and permitted the corrupt Quarase government to flourish.

Anonymous said...


Can I take it from your smart arse last line you will be refusing to accept your tax cut next week?

There isn't a "tax cut" next week"

GST is going up.

Why America is great:

Warren Buffett, billionaire, pays a total tax rate (federal, state & local) of 0.2% of his income and investment gains. A typical single person earning a minimum wage pays taxes amounting to 22% of her wages, a 100-fold higher rate than Mr. Buffett’s.

Cactus Kate said...

milking and managing 500 cows for $40k per year. Bloody farmers ripping him off....perhaps you need to tell him that.

Simon said...

The bludgers are the farmers holding people to PR ransom. Scum.

Anonymous said...

Many people, (tradesmen doing "cash jobs", odd-jobers on a benefit, criminals, for example) are not paying tax on their "earnings".
Nor, to some extent, are the wealthy who reconstruct their financial affairs to avoid the highest tax bracket.
It is much more difficult to avoid paying GST on goods bought with those proceeds. Not impossible, but certainly more difficult.
So there should be some windfall income from the increase in GST.
Increased rates on Auckland properties under the new Brown administraton spending spree will also see an increased GST return, mostly from wealthy property owners.


Shane Ponting said...

There is no tax cut next week. There is a change in the way taxation occurs, but in the words of your man Bill English it is "fiscally neutral" which means neither positive nor negative (just so you understand the meaning).

Let me know when your party gets around to the promised tax cuts.....

TimM said...

Cactus: "milking and managing 500 cows for $40k per year" - plus he "has a nice comfortable but small home provided"

I worked as a kitchen hand in my youth (one of my part time jobs to supplement income) and there was a Fijian kitchen hand there who owned farmland in Fiji but had come to NZ to earn money to buy seed and tools.
Very admirable work ethic, gave me a great respect for Fijians.

Cactus Kate said...


40k to be a farm manager for 500 cows is a disgrace. And pretty much any worker on a farm gets a roof over their head (usually a scungy one).

The farmer here is milking this poor bastards work permit status to his advantage and pocketing the difference he would have to pay for a market salary being a New Zealander, with full permit, to do this job. More shame when farmers are due to receive their 2nd highest payout in history.

No problems with low wages but I do have issue when foreign workers are exploited by employers, but the employers cannot exploit NZ workers the same way.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Cactus, I'm surprised you are so upset. This is a classic case of the free market in operation.

The young Fijian has happily negotiated a deal. He is no mug, by the way. He is prepared to work for $40k in order to gain residency. That's the price he is prepared to pay.

Why should the farmer pay someone else $60k when a competent person will happily work for $40k? With the current shortage of competent farm labour I'm surprised consultants are not recruiting in Fiji.

Sure, once residency is gained then the young man can cast about for another job and come back to his current boss and command the right wage for a competent herd manager who IS A NZ RESIDENT.

Anonymous said...

Gee CK has it in for the farmer. Why she is so bitter beats me?


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Sally, I rise to defend dear Cactus.

I don't think she is bitter. She simply is pointing out that the cocky is making a $20k annual windfall by employing this chap.

I'd have to say the family's accommodation is luxurious by Fijian standards and their $70k gross income converts to $100k Fijian currency. I haven't yet established whether, as non residents, they qualify for Clark's insidious Working For Families but I imagine they would as technically it is a tax credit, not a welfare payment.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Ahahh. They do NOT qualify for WFF>

Anonymous said...

Adolf, what's wrong about paying a lot less than he would to a NZ'er is that its wrong irrespective of legality. Its not could you, its should you. Performance alone should dictate pay within a range that is realistic for NZ-ers.

Its just like getting Ni Vanuatu in to do pruning and fleece them a ridiculous rental to reduce further the effective pay rates. Probably legal but so wrong.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon, here you are just flat wrong.

We are dealing with a willing buyer and a willing seller. You seem not to comprehend that the going rate for an employee who is a resident is more than the going rate for a non resident. The employment of a non resident entails an element of risk not present when one employs a resident. In this case the risk is instability.

In this case also, both parties are onto a good thing. In particular, the lad from Fiji is working up an excellent CV which will enable him to command top dollar when he obtains residency. At the same time he is making more money that he has ever seen before.

Is it just possible that some of the herd managers being paid $60k plus and a big house are overpaid? Would they still command $60k plus if the pay out dropped to $5.00? Of course not but I don't hear you suggesting they should because it is 'the moral thing to do' to help out the poor struggling cow cocky. These guys are being paid the market rate for the moment. Si is my Fijian client.

I'm greatly surprised I have to point out these simple truths to some of the doyens and doyesses of the ACT Party.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with the willing buyer and seller concept but in the world today there is always someone cheaper than us. If $50K is the going rate fair enough but then its $45K, $40K and so on. There's a point where it should stop and where that point is is the moral point you seem to miss. Its OK until its you I guess. Recession when its someone else, depression when its you. I'm doomed to being broke because I'm a sucker for giving a guy a decent break.

Anonymous said...

I don't know any farmers who pay, or would pay, any good worker less because of their ethnicity. They either treat everybody well,or they (some) treat everybody poorly.
Quality staff are a scarce commodity on farms.


pdm said...

I am a bit off the pace these days re sharemilking rations but once a resident our Fijian friend can possibly move that wazy and steadily increase his asset base and income. At today's milkfat prices $150K plus income is likely.

Do the ground work first.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon, you miss the point. He is not being paid less for his ethnicity but rather because of his non residency status. There also is an implied agreement that he will be employed for five years, which is of immense value to the employee.

pdm is onto it.

Anonymous said...

Well,yes, I have lumped ethnicity in with lack of residential qualification.
Many NZ farmers employ staff from the UK and Europe who lack the same residency, but pay them well because they are skilled and have a very good work ethic.
I do not not know any farmers who employ Fijians, or Philippinos, or South Americans, or South Africans, although I know these nationalities advertise for farmwork in NZ.
Perhaps I am not able to comment with your authority.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Anon, I certainly do not have full knowledge of the ethnic makeup of the dairy industry in NZ. However, after some twenty years of dealing with cockies in many parts of the NI and latterly in Waikato and BOP I think I can reasonably point to a substantial presence of Ido Fijian and Indo-Indian families in the Waikato industry, along with a very signinificant number of dutch immigrant families. In the last five to ten years one has started to see a growing number of white South Africans and Zimmers. Funnily enough I haven't come across many Poms.

WHit is intersting about this particular case is that the employer is a white Kiwi. It is not uncommon for Indians to screw their employees into the ground, making our farm owner in this case look like a veritable angel.

Anonymous said...

Most of the UK, Europeans that I have referred to were here for work experience, although several have made NZ residency/farming their goal. These were Polish, Swedish, and Irish. Those who returned home after mostly one,but also two and three years, were mostly English and Irish, with several Scottish, Welsh, Dutch, and even an Australian. Almost all were in demand for permanent management positions.

Anonymous said...

Most of the Philipinos seem to work in the South Island, Southland especially.

Good, hard workers I am told. Quite a few Dutch and Irish here too.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Exocet, interesting to hear that. There is a considerable enclave of Flipper migrants living in Glenfield on Auckland's North Shore.