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May 7, 2018 | by  | in Editorial |
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Being an Immigrant is Not Immigreat

A bunch of people in NZ end up getting paid less than minimum wage. You’ve got under-the-table cash
jobs in hospitality and agriculture. You’ve got people working at doorknocking or selling stuff on the street, usually for charities, who get paid per sign-up, and can earn zero dollars from working all day if they don’t make sales. And you’ve got Uber drivers, who are paid per-ride and end up with way less than minimum wage.

I’ve worked some of these jobs before, and so have my friends. It feels unfair, but when everyone there kind of just accepts that it’s normal, it’s quite easy to just go with it. There’s this sort of tacit understanding that this is the best job we could get, and that’s just how it is. When my Taiwanese friends weren’t paid when working orchard cash jobs, it was easier to move on, and take the loss. Who could we complain to? Who would believe us when there was no evidence?
A lot of Uber drivers aren’t white. The thing is, non-white immigrants to New Zealand have a harder time finding employment. Some of it is the English skills, but some of it is racism. (Don’t shit me, when I was a recent grad on the job hunt, I was told I should change my name to sound more “normal”. I was seriously considering it too. Unemployment sucks.) If you’re not from NZ, you know way less about the
employment laws and what rights you have. You’ll have way less knowledge about how to organize a
campaign. Less of those English skills needed to write press releases. Less understanding of what would
work, and what could change.
So we’ve got this group of people who have a harder time getting a job, end up with a job with poor working conditions, but are afraid to speak out because they might lose what employment they have.
So I’m sorry, but not surprised, when Rideshare Drivers New Zealand told us that a lot of Uber drivers
will be scared to say anything publicly. Mostly, people don’t want to get in trouble. They don’t want to have bad relationships with those in power. They don’t want to lose their jobs. I can understand that fear; without a job you don’t have money, and without money you’re in a lot of trouble. When you’re
in New Zealand on visas are especially vulnerable, as they don’t have the security of the dole to fall back on, and risk being deported.

Unfortunately, the people who feel least comfortable speaking out are the ones most at risk of being
exploited. It’s shitty.

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