Subcontracting for public works needs to be closely monitored

While it might be too much to ask for for private construction companies, at least for public works there should be a clear requirement for all labour (and materials?) to be traceable and checkable. The paperwork and the identity and contact details of all people involved should be copied to a central register (maybe close to the IRD) so any auditing would need a minimum of time and effort. Tracking people could be as simple as a one-page Google form or a QR code for workers to scan when they log in and out.

I don't know how the back-end would work, but, information linked from various agencies should all be connected so there's a clear picture which can be inferred (by automated means) on whether labour is being exploited or not, and whether labour is in need of additional welfare support, without the need for workers to line up at WINZ. Things such as COVID relief payments would be able to be calculated automatically and with a fair degree of certainty, the more information is available to be put together.

It should be fairly obvious when looking at where someone is, and what their income and expenses are, whether they're being fairly treated by their employers and whether they should be entitled to welfare supplements in between contracts.

Privacy, in my opinion, should be able to be traded off for transparency if workers choose to - it's a way to keep dodgy employers in check and also to ensure that workers don't have to suffer the indignity of an inquiry when they apply for welfare benefits if it's done automatically. Workers who don't trust the automated system could opt out, and pay an additional fee for in-person WINZ assessment.


Why the contribution is important

It is a truth universally acknowledged (well, maybe not), that subcontracting is a way to escape responsibilities and liabilities for problems with materials or labour laws and to increase the inequality between business-owners and the working-class. The more layers there are, the less accountability and transparency, the more costly the time to audit, and the more potential for migrant abuse (or non-migrant abuse).

Any record-keeping in this system could in future allow the automatic calculation of welfare subsidies to even out the undependable income stream that comes with work that doesn't have a regular salary. This also ties into the idea of "The Future of Work" ( and basically, the idea that we can intelligently intervene in the free market to stop the invisible hand from being as invisible and getting away with chilvarously tugging the ponytails of cafe staff because they think we aren't looking or that we'll have a forgetful episode.

by land077 on March 02, 2021 at 02:32AM

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