Wednesday 6 October 2010

No shameful joy here, just a shame.

The IHC, who run sheltered workshops for the disabled, lobbied hard for strong workers' rights protections for the disabled. They helped to ensure that workers in those kinds of workshops received the minimum wage, unless a whole lot of paperwork were filled out. Unfortunately, the minimum wage was higher than the marginal revenue product of many mentally disabled people's work, and many employers couldn't be bothered with the paperwork, and so the intellectually disabled were pushed out of work and into community recreational programmes.

And now Radio New Zealand reports that IHC has had two subsidiaries placed under statutory management while they appeal a court ruling that would, if not overturned, increase their costs so substantially as to put them out of business. What does IHC want? To be able to avoid paying the minimum wage to folks on overnight shifts.
The argument is over what 3000 staff working for Idea Services and Timata Hou should be paid for what is known as sleep-over nights in order to look after about people with intellectual and other disabilities.
In rulings last year, the Employment Court agreed with workers that they should receive an hourly rate rather than an allowance of $34 for being on the premises between 10pm and 7am.
But IHC chief executive Ralph Jones says it cannot afford the costs resulting from the rulings, saying it would leave IHC with a liability of $176 million in back pay and $33 million each year in additional wage costs.
Idea Services is the operational arm of IHC that helped those disabled who were able to continue working after IHC-supported changes to labour laws. And now they're in turn being knocked out by labour laws. There's no schadenfreude in this. Sad irony only.

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