Unpaid labour on private estates of the rich
A Christchurch court decision this week has shown that unemployed people can be used as unpaid labour on the private estates of wealthy landowners under Community Wage scheme regulations.
Local Alliance MP Liz Gordon took up the case on behalf of a worker directed by WINZ to tidy the grounds of the property of Bruce Bellis at Amberly.She says that in correspondence the Minister, Peter McCardle, has continually said there is nothing wrong with private placements as long as they have a social or environment al outcome.
'I have asked him to say outright, then, that it is OK for a person to be used to sweep the leaves on the grounds of someone's country estate, given there is an 'environmental outcome'.
He refused to do so, but neither would he deny the possibility of someone doing this sort of work.
'Bruce Bellis has this week won damages from WINZ for breach of contract, after they had pulled the worker off the job when Liz Gordon's office complained.Dr Gordon says she ha! s no quarrel with Mr Bellis but she is concerned that WINZ needs to be clear what work is allowed.
'If the scheme is intended as a sort of indentured labour or semi-slavery, then let's say so. If it is really a scheme for benefiting the community, the WINZ needs to ensure that this never happens again.
'Dr Gordon is still waiting for the Ombudsman's review into WINZ's refusal to give her the relevant papers so that she can check the facts of the case.