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LETTERS: Long-term solution for depopulation

Thursday 23 September 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: Long-term solution for depopulation

Letters for Thursday September 23, 2021

Dear Editor,

How ironic that the first people to put up their hands, moan and complain loudly about the apparent shortage of workers are from the accommodation sector of the tourism industry – the very sector that pays our workers minimum rates but charge very top dollar for their rooms and services.

Why don’t they pay our people more, because they can well afford to when tourism is happening here? What would be much fairer to our people is a minimum rate of between $10 to $15 rather than the basic $8 an hour. Pay people what they’re worth rather than the rate set by government on the urging of the Chamber of Comics, uh sorry…Commerce.

Now we are hearing lots of talk about the need to bring in lots of foreign workers being uttered by businesses that are owned by absentee foreigners. You don’t hear the locally owned businesses whining and wanting more and more foreigners coming in. It has become clear that these businesses with overseas owners would have no qualms about flooding our country with foreign workers just so they can keep paying the minimum rate. That minimum $8 rate just isn’t enough for local workers to support their family. That’s why our own people work two or three jobs in order to make ends meet. And continuing leaving our country.

It must be cheaper in the long run to pay our people a decent rate instead of spending on importing workers, paying for annual work permits, returning them for holiday and the eventual repatriation. If we paid our people $15 an hour, you’d probably find more would return to work here and more would choose to stay.

Our country is being determined by the tourism industry players in the accommodation sector. The most vocal at complaining and demanding represent businesses whose owners don’t even live in the Cook Islands and have no intention of ever calling this place home. This is a place for them to make the most money at the least possible expense. So of course the consequence of our own leaving our country for better pay overseas is not something that moves them to act in a way that would prevent that outward flow i.e. pay better wages. Instead, they opt for the easiest solution for their business; bring in more foreign workers and pay them minimum wage – and in the end, this isn’t the best long-term solution for our depleting population.

Concerned Citizen

(Name and addressing)