Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

'The jobs just are not there'

Protester Jack Daylight is outraged by the new 'one strike' rule. Photo / Dean Purcell
Protester Jack Daylight is outraged by the new 'one strike' rule. Photo / Dean Purcell

Jack Daylight came to protest against welfare reform because he wants a job.

Another man, who wants to remain anonymous, stayed to watch because he does not want a job.

The two men, both beneficiaries, came together yesterday outside the Ministry of Social Development's Auckland regional office in Ellerslie, where ex-MP Sue Bradford and four other protesters chained themselves to a pillar to protest against the Government's latest welfare-reform bill introduced in Parliament on Monday.

One of those arrested, Chris Zack, said police cut the chain to remove the five protesters and charged them last night with wilful trespass.

Mr Daylight, 29, was also arrested outside the building when he ran towards a back entrance in an apparent bid to break in.

He has a degree in mechanical engineering and worked for Alloy Yachts before going overseas last year. When he came home he couldn't get a job.

"The jobs just are not there," he said.

"I generally apply for three or four a week, sometimes I apply for the same job more than once.

"The only job opportunity Winz [Work and Income] has offered me is as a bouncer at a bar. I didn't end up taking that job. I can't fight."

Mr Daylight lives in Pt Chevalier with his 69-year-old father and wants to stay in Auckland because his father is separated and had a stroke last year. But he has applied for jobs in Australia and said Work and Income encouraged him to do so.

He went to Ellerslie to protest at the "one-strike rule" in the new welfare bill that would cancel his benefit for 13 weeks if he turned down a single offer.

"If I didn't take that job as a bouncer they will cut my benefit. How does that make sense, having qualified people working in menial jobs?"

The other man, aged 46, was passing by when he saw the protest. He has been on a sickness benefit "for years now" for chronic insomnia.

The reform bill would move all sickness beneficiaries on to a new Jobseeker Support with a requirement to look for work.

The man, who lives alone in Penrose, said life on a benefit was "subsistence living" but he managed.

"I can work through the changes, maybe just grin and bear some part-time work if I'm forced to," he said.

"Every time they [Work and Income] want something, I just produce what they want."

Social Development regional commissioner Isabel Evans said she supported the right to peaceful protest but could not condone protesters disrupting her staff's ability to do their work.

- NZ Herald

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