Kiwis 'useless' workers - 'immigrants saved my business'

  • 28/02/2017

Small business owner Mary Lambie has criticised "absolutely useless" young New Zealand workers - and praised immigrants' "fabulous" work ethics. 

Ms Lambie, a former TV broadcaster who went on to own a Subway franchise, says young Kiwi men were particularly bad employees.

"We were operating in that $15-$20 an hour model. I would put the ads out, I would be wanting workers. Some Kiwis would apply", Ms Lambie told Duncan Garner on The AM Show.

"They were useless. Absolutely useless. Particularly young Kiwi men. I'm talking, sort of, under 21. Unreliable, dishonest, lazy."

She said she encountered a couple of cases of New Zealanders stealing from the stores but didn't have issues with immigrant workers.

"I never had a problem with any of the immigrants, so what I wanna say is: the immigrants saved the business. They really did, and at the end of the day, I had all Indians in the end, and they were fabulous."

Eventfinda CEO James McGlinn said that while his business hasn't experienced issues with New Zealand workers, he agreed that immigration is good for New Zealand.

"We haven't had the same problems with Kiwis. We have a number of immigrants working in the business, and like you say, Mary, we couldn't do it without them."

He thinks local governments need to up their game on providing housing and infrastructure for a growing population.

Annual net migration - the number of people coming into New Zealand minus those who leave - rose to record levels for the year ending in January 2017.

Net migration was at 71,305 for the 12 months ending January 31. It beat the previous annual record of 70,600, set just a month earlier.

Coupled with ongoing issues with housing in Auckland and other centres, high levels of immigration have seen the public pointing the finger at immigration.

But speaking to media on Monday, Prime Minister Bill English said youth unemployment was down to drug tests, not competition from immigrants.

He was being asked why immigration levels were so high when there are 140,000 unemployed.

"One of the hurdles these days is passing a drug test, a lot of young people can't pass that test," he said.

"If you go around the country you'll hear all sorts of stories, some good, some not so good about Kiwis' willingness and ability to do the jobs that are available," he said.

Mr English said New Zealanders failing drug tests was a problem in "most industries" but wouldn't specify which drugs were an issue.