Friday, 18 April 2008

a good night out?

i have finally succumbed to popular culture. tomorrow night, i'm going to watch my first ever live rugby match. this is a big deal, because i have never even sat through a whole rugby match on tv. i've missed every rugby world cup, every bledisloe cup match, the NPC thing and the super 12 (14?). i've watched a little bit of matches where waikato had a chance to win the ranfurly shield, but that's about it.

i find that rugby bores me. it's a game with constant stopping and starting, too much pushing and shoving, and big boys banging straight into each other for no good reason that i can make out. i'd have to agree with brian edwards that the bits where they pass the ball and run are good. but these bits tend to be too few and far between for me to have any interest in the game. give me soccer, netball or tennis any day of the week. these are fast-moving games with obvious skills on display. yes, i know rugby requires skills as well, but these are not so readily apparent when you actually watch the game.

nonetheless, my workmates have persuaded me to go and watch the chiefs play someone tomorrow night. i'm thinking that i'll enjoy the atmosphere and the noise, even if i'm not that interested in the game. and i have a cowbell. that should help. i can at least enjoy annoying everyone else around me.

i will report back on the experience tomorrow night, but don't expect me to be converted into a rugby fan. and don't think this means i will now attend rock concerts, read fashion magazines or start wearing make-up. one can only go so far after all.

sad news today about the closure of the fisher & paykel factory in dunedin. but not wholly unexpected. this is the sort of thing that has been plaguing american and other western countries for some time now. the basic fact is that we can not compete on wages with developing countries, nor do we want to.

fisher & paykel management are blaming the high nz dollar and lack of government support. the nz dollar could be lowered by lowering interest rates, but that affects inflation and would be harmful for the economy at this point. do we want to put the whole country under strain to support one sector?and as for the government not doing enough, i'm not sure what else they want. they're getting a business tax cut from 1 april, along with support through the research & development tax breaks. the government has been busy negotiating trade deals with various countries around the world for some years now, to strengthen our export markets. the only further measure that can be taken is to control the exchange rate, which would be a pretty drastic step indeed, with some potentially nasty side-effects.

the fact is that this company wants to cut costs by paying workers the minimum amount they can get away with. and they can only get away with it by moving somewhere else. there is no government policy that is going to bring the minimum wage down to $2 per hour, cut holidays, cut health & safety regulations and so on.

it's time we demanded more social responsibility from companies, nationally and internationally. the only way pressure can be brought on these companies to pay fair wages in whatever country they operate in is through consumer action. the excuses they are providing are not good enough, and it's pathetic to blame the government when it's simply a matter of maximising shareholders wealth.

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