Man Trouble


Whenever I end up yelling at people and chained to something there’s always someone who asks me why I bother. When Auckland Action Against Poverty highlight an issue about the rights of beneficiaries we too are asked why we bother and on occasion suffer some severe talkback backlash. This week as Manpower encountered people power and I was led handcuffed to a paddy wagon no one raised an eye brow, let alone an objection. That is simply because Manpower’s actions are indefensible.

As the matter is now ‘before the courts’ I shall add little commentary to what happened on the day, nor will I talk about the other members of the ‘Manpower 8’ except to say they are a great and reliable crew of people who I am proud to be arrested with. There were a far larger group involved who did not get arrested and every person involved played an integral part. That includes everyone who ran the picket outside and whose chants we could hear on the ninth floor. All of us involved in the Manpowered story so far are just extras.

This is the story of someone seeking work and sent by Work and Income to Manpower. The hero of the story was and still is “Tony” who came to AAAP with his complaints and concerns. That takes courage. The villain of the piece is not who you might suspect, it is not Manpower. They are just parasitic middlemen pimping poverty. The real villain is Work and Income.

Manpower are not a recruitment company. Recruitment companies work legally, they advise on your CV, they interview you about your skills, strengths, experience and then they match-make you with an employer who they charge for a service. Recruitment companies broker a relationship with employers and facilitate people into work. They don’t ask who you are sleeping with, voting for or which religion you practice. Manpower is a labour hire company. A bad labour hire company that is using an illegal contract that does not specify where you will work, for how long, what you will be doing and how much you will be paid. Manpower are signing you up to be on permanent standby for nothing guaranteed. They are also questioning applicants about a range of sensitive private issues. We still don’t know what they are doing with the data. I believe this is the reason we didn’t suffer the media backlash we often attract. This is story about a middle man scam.

Labour hire companies in New Zealand are unregulated. Not all of them are bad but as is often the way with any unregulated industry it will attract some dodgy characters and at Manpower they’re all dressed like clowns and cowboys. What isn’t so commonly known is the Work and Income practice of pushing people into work with companies like Manpower. On Thursday we closed down Manpower and with the help of News Hub exposed how Work and Income are getting people off benefits and onto Manpower’s books. When there is no work forthcoming and people have to return to Work and Income they face a thirteen week stand down. On Friday media reported that unemployment was at its lowest since 2008.

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The public are not stupid. We at AAAP and First Union know that the stats stink. Unemployment is not a measure of under-employment. Daily we work with people who are underemployed, scrapping for extra hours and desperately in need of a top up from Work and Income. People are hanging on by a thread and an extra hour. When a person on a benefit is sent to Manpower for a job it is like evicting a family from a secure house and giving them a tent in cyclone season. When the work dries up they are left drowning in debt and hoping for rescue sometime in the next thirteen weeks. Desperate people, with no security will put up with a lot of shit and do a lot of unpaid overtime in order to keep their head above water.

Work and Income putting vulnerable people into this kind of work is negligent. It shows that they have no respect or empathy for the people whom they are charged with assisting. It illustrates that they have absolutely no concern for what happens when the people walk out the revolving door as long as the stats say they have placed someone in work. It is cruel and callous. Manpower might be cancelling work without notice, but it is Work and Income that are cancelling people’s faith, undermining their confidence and putting them at risk by cancelling their income.

The labour hire industry needs to be regulated. That is evident. It is not just beneficiaries but also students, migrants and other workers looking for decent and dependable income that are being exploited and mined for deeply personal information. It is the government’s responsibility to do this and it is the government’s responsibility also to ensure that Work and Income stop participating in this farce.

It needs to stop. Sign the petition


  1. All I can say now, just looking at this post, before I have to rush out to do things: GOOD JOB, THANKS FOR YOUR DEDICATION AND COURAGE AND HARD WORK, ALL AT AAAP!!!

    I wish more people would wake up and take a damned clear and firm stand against all this appalling stuff that goes on in our country these days. Manpower need to be shamed into bankruptcy, they have no place in our employment referral industry with the kinds of methods they have been using, shame on them.

    Again, thanks Kate and others, we need more action like this.

  2. Yes agree with writer under employment is the issue and so is availability of cheap labour and using a different process to measure unemployment as those working a few hours or in a casual position or in training are probably being counted as working to push down the rate but really they are part of the bigger group in our country that are actually under employed

  3. The lies of those in government are beyond belief, and we see now that in the US anger is boiling also, leading to the totally unexpected election result that will change things, not necessarily for the better, but that will shake things up.

    NZ government is lying to the public and beneficiaries, and they are pushing people into work, who are often not fit and healthy enough to work, but this proves the lies they use to do this:
    “Is the statement that if a person is off work for 70 days the chance of ever getting back to work is 35% justified?”

    ‚In the expectation of recovery’, Faulkner, Centre for Welfare Reform, Scrib
    (criticism of biopsychosocial model, Aylward et al)

    More on the obfuscation and lies by MSD and the government:

    New, current PDF version (as on 19.09.16):

    Also study this, if you care:
    (new current PDF with post, 19.09.16)

    And this is factual stuff too, some do not get it:

  4. Any government can claim to have reduced unemployment by changing the legal definition of “employment” and “job”, or by splitting one fulltime job into two or more part-time jobs.
    That is basically what National has done.
    Redefinition and restribution of jobs is not cutting unemployment, whatever spin National may put on it.

  5. WINZ have an agenda of diminishing unemployment and Manpower is one of the pawns they use to acheive it. WINZ are probably functioning legally but this action is morally questionable. How is putting people in a more precarious position, helping them? It makes me wonder how much of this governance people can absorb, before they break.

  6. “This is the story of someone seeking work and sent by Work and Income to Manpower. The hero of the story was and still is “Tony” who came to AAAP with his complaints and concerns. That takes courage. The villain of the piece is not who you might suspect, it is not Manpower. They are just parasitic middlemen pimping poverty. The real villain is Work and Income.”

    Yes, ABSOLUTELY, it is WINZ and MSD that are the true CRIMINALS, who are also responsible for the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill before Parliament, wanting rights to redirect benefit money to landlords, as they see fit, without even consulting beneficiaries:

    Read the critical submissions on the Bill:

    There is other hideous legislation that gets proposed and passed, and sadly our shit media never report on it, as it affects “only” a disliked minority, who most have a dim view of, given media bias and negative reporting.

    So we have this legislation due for the third reading soon, and nobody out there really knows anything about it.

    It will “enshrine” the so called unproved “investment approach”, force more rules and expectations on beneficiaries, and bring in ever more draconian, unjust law and rules that should not be allowed.

    With the SHIT MEDIA we have in New Zealand, being a beneficiary is like being a criminal, given their biased and poor reporting, and most should rather hang themselves than depend on the ever so honoured tax payer, it seems.

    I call them for what they are, these mercenary “reporters”, largely in the government’s pocket, but even Labour betray us, with their indifference towards people on welfare support. They only offer a slightly less draconian approach, and that is BS to me, so I will never vote for Labour anyway.

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