My son was offended by a letter to the Southland Times that suggested that the reason dairy farmers were having to employ workers from outside New Zealand was because there were no "real men" in New Zealand who were capable of manual labour. I thought my son's response was worth republishing on my blog as it also relates to the Green Party's recently released discussion paper on the ICT industry. I should note that there have been a number of letters also published in the Southland Times suggesting that dairy farmers will continue to struggle getting local workers when the pay and conditions they provide are generally very poor.
After reading Mervyn Cave’s letter regarding idle youth (January 8) I had to double-check the date on my copy of The Southland Times. As it turns out, it was not 1963.
In response to a shortage of manual labourers, he blames an “electronically castrated” generation of men, constantly “messing about on computers”. As a product design student, I admit most of my time is spent writing essays, 3D modelling and photoshopping images on a computer, and very little of it spent lifting heavy things and grunting. Does it make Mr Cave uncomfortable that such “slugs” designed nearly everything he owns?
I can imagine many women would also be insulted at the outdated insinuations that they are incapable of driving trucks or picking fruit; their role merely to marry and look after the “real men”.
The fact is that able-bodied youth of both genders exist in plenty, but fulfilling and well-paid work is increasingly to be found in the digital world. It is not issuing work permits to “real men from the Third World” that will solve Mr Cave’s labour problem, but offering real incentives to strong Kiwi blokes and blokettes. Can we be blamed for trying to escape the rank and file of New Zealand’s ever-expanding low-wage economy?