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Govt policy shunts disabled out of jobs

Paul Hutchison MP
National Party Disability Issues Spokesman

27 November 2007

Govt policy shunts disabled out of jobs

Hundreds of disabled people are set to lose their jobs as a result of flawed Government legislation, due to come into effect this week, says National’s Disability Issues spokesman, Dr Paul Hutchison.

“The repeal of the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act is designed to ensure people with disabilities are paid the minimum wage, but this is impossible for many non-profit businesses.

“From Auckland to Southland, as sheltered workshops close, disabled workers are being put into community participation or losing their jobs altogether.

“IHC has decided not to give ‘exemptions’ from the minimum wage if disabled people want to work on. One man from Rotorua has pleaded ‘give me back my job Helen, I don’t care about minimum wages, I just want a job’.

“In Blenheim, a garden centre run by IHC is due to be closed on Friday and sold to the highest tender, leaving some who have worked there for 25 years, without a job.

“A group of locals has offered to buy the centre from IHC for more than $1 million or at market value, to keep it in perpetuity so disabled people always have a place to work.

“This is potentially a win-win situation but IHC needs to take this offer up immediately and forget about insisting on an open tender.

“The Labour Government’s transition period to bring in the new legislation has been far too short, and the legislation has been pushed through in a heavy-handed way. This is typical ‘we know best’ from Labour.

“Even Ralph Jones, the CEO of IHC, has told one parent of a disabled person that IHC has become too politically correct in some areas and that the closure of the garden centre has occurred partly as a result of Government policy.

“It is a tragedy that this has happened but, sadly, the situation in Blenheim will prove to be the tip of the iceberg.”


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