Mike Hosking: Work for the dole a ‘no-brainer’

I warned you last week about the rise and rise of the union movement.
At the Council of Trade Unions get-together they were addressed by the new Prime Minister, who talked about “them” governing together.

And yet here we are, just four short days later, and already they’ve fallen out.

Shane Jones, on my programme on Friday, talked of the billion dollar regional fund, and part of that could be a work for the dole scheme. What an excellent idea. And another sign that this new government isn’t actually as radical as some might have thought.

How to get the remaining jobless out of bed and doing something has been an issue for years. Unemployment is at very low numbers by anyone’s measure, and we have hit that classic problem of a growing economy. Lots and lots of jobs, but a real issue finding good people.

So what to do with those ones that don’t – or won’t – work?

Geography is one of those issues. In some parts of the country there simply isn’t a lot of work. Enter the regional fund. Despite the fact there might not be a lot of industry, or maybe there is a skill mismatch, the simple reality is that there is always stuff to do.

And why on earth aren’t we taking the people with little to do, but a state cheque in their hand and getting them to contribute?

It’s sensible, it’s logical, it’s practical. It benefits the region. It hopefully benefits the individual, and the state gets something back for its money. Who knows, it might even lead somewhere long term.

But the unions want none of it. Why? Because the unions don’t want much of anything, short of less work for more money and better conditions.

Surely we cannot miss the irony of a Labour government introducing policy that is at odds with the unions.

If the unions, the group who have such influence on the party, who have a massive say on who the leader of the party is, they were the ones behind Andrew Little getting the top job.

If they are out of step with Labour, you really have to ask just who they are in step with, and whether their thinking is a bit 1931.

Working for the dole is quid pro quo. There is no free lunch or there shouldn’t be, state money isn’t a one-way street. If we can get a few people out of bed and making an effort in the regions, the regional fund is off to a good start.