Essential Information on an Essential Issue
26 September, 1994
- JOB CREATION GOES BEGGING
Some obvious job creation
opportunities go begging. Many councils around the
country are delaying urgent work on their essential infrastructure such as sewerage , water systems
and roading. Auditor-General Jeff Chapman warns of an imminent collapse in essential
services. Chapman tells the Dominion : " I am aware of several major
timebombs around NZ ... instances where councils will be up for many millions of dollars to prevent the collapse of their
infrastructure. " At present no-one knows exactly how much deferred maintenance there is within the
local government infrastructure, and this information is crucial to future planning.
Source The Dominion 13 September 1994 "Infrastructure time bombs warning" by James Weir
- SOUTH AUCKLAND HOUSING SCHEME
A $1.6 million scheme has started in South Auckland to employ 42 unemployed people
- half of them state housing tenants - to refurbish and redecorate 3000 Housing New
Zealand homes on Otara and Papatoetoe. The pilot scheme was set up by Hawkins Construction in
partnership with Housing New Zealand and the Employment Service, and was specifically
developed to employ locals. Trainees receive on-the-job training in wall-papering and painting and earn
$7-9 an hour depending on skills and experience. Margo Staunton NZ Herald.
Source The New Zealand Herald 22 September 1994 "Tenants painting their way into work" by Margo Staunton
- LABOUR ECONOMIC POLICIES
Labour is soon to release its new platform of economic
policies. Michael Cullen says it will have four basic aims : full employment, higher real incomes, more equitable distribution
of income and sustainable economic development. It plans to radically change its tax policies
for high earners. Signal : The wealthy to pay
Predictions on the detail of Labour's economic policies. Family Support : boost
payments for the poor, Company tax : no change, Entertainment taxes : abolished, GST : No change,
Training Levies on employers : to be introduced and made compulsory, Death duties :
re-introducing an inheritance tax for those leaving assets above $500,000, Venture Capital : a fund of up to
$300 million established.
Source The Daily News 23 September 1994 "Wealthy must pay" by Helen Tunnah
- FOODBANKS SHOULD CLOSE ?
Foodbanks should close their voluntary services until government restores benefits to
a level people could live on. This was the message from Sue Bradford and protesters outside
an Auckland conference of foodbank co-ordinators. Bradford argues that
foodbanks have become a new arm of social policy
implementation which the government doesn't have to pay
for. There are now 130 foodbanks in Auckland distributing $21 million in food this year.
The foodbank co-ordinators told Peter Gresham that his department's offices are referring their
"customers" to this relatively new source of relief for New Zealanders who have fallen through
the cracks of the new economy.
Source The New Zealand Herald 14 September 1994 "Action to close the foodbanks" by Rochelle Lockley
- JOB ACTION PROGRAMME
The Employment Service is hoping that its new
programme Job Action will help it focus on the needs of the long-term unemployed. The programme provides an interview followed up by
a one-week workshop to help the person produce a job-hunting
plan. It is being piloted in several centres at the moment, and will be available nationwide by the end of May next year.
Source The Daily News 21 September 1994 "Job action starts"
- WELFARE TO WELLBEING
Government has provided the environment for businesses to
achieve, and now business should respond by using the available government employment programmes and
not shying away from hiring people who have a period of unemployment in their CV, said
Peter Gresham at a breakfast launch of his new Social Welfare programme "From Welfare to
Wellbeing". Gresham called on business leaders to contribute their entrepreneurial experience to
help solve unemployment.
From Welfare to Wellbeing appears to be an effort by government to change
public perception about its social policy. According to the Sunday Star Times columnist
Ian Templeton, people see government social policy as being driven by the government's
intention to spend less money. From Welfare to Wellbeing is apparently an effort to put on a
more human face. It also is signalling a change in attitude towards beneficiaries. Gresham :
the Department is now focussed on working with beneficiaries to assist them to make a
Source The Daily News 16 September 1994 "Private sector asked to aid welfare plan" by NZPA
- CHANGES TO POLYTECHS
The Ministry of Education is well down the track to making similar
changes to the polytechnics system as it has already done to Health. The plan is to restructure polytechs
as business units, and making them tender for course funding, the way private training
providers do now. Currently, private trainers receive funding of between 20% - 40% of what the
government pays to polytechs for similar courses. The Ministry's proposal, which will go
to Cabinet next month, will allow contracts to be awarded to the lowest tender, and funds
currently spent on polytech courses will be diverted
to private trainers. Prediction by the
Ministry : an overall reduction of polytech funding by about 3%.
Source The New Zealand Herald 7 September 1994 "Private courses in line for equal funding" by Andrew laxon
- WEDDEL WORKERS TO WAIT FOR HELP
Weddel workers won't be able to use many NZ Employment Service schemes until
they can demonstrate, by being unemployed for 26 weeks, they are disadvantaged in the
labour market. While motivation to re-train is high when people first lose their jobs, the
government's employment programmes focus on long term
unemployed. Few services will be available to the flood of 2000 unemployed people, even if job prospects are non-existent, until
everyone has put in their time on the dole.
Question : What training opportunities will be in place
when 26 weeks is up ?
The Alliance has called on the Government to start an immediate programme of
public works to soak up the unemployed. Priorities : Upgrading housing, hospital and school
maintenance, weed control, planting native bush, and homecare for the elderly and sick. Cost :
Source The Dominion 16 September 1994 "Jobless figures rise near Weddell plants" by Simon Kilroy
- FULL PARTICIPATION -- ALLIANCE
Jim Anderton and Alliance Employment spokeswoman Leah McBey earlier this
month presented their submission to the Employment Taskforce. Entitled
"Participating and Belonging", it summarises Alliance policy measures for full employment. The Alliance is
defining full employment as having no more than 30,000 people unemployed. They see this as
the number of workers who at any one time may be between jobs and is based on 2-3% of
the workforce. The Alliance predicts a realistic
timetable of achieving full employment as
In their submission the Alliance reinforced their commitment to create a
$250 million economic development fund. It will be the basis of locally driven strategies to provide
jobs. Other policies : that further tariff reductions should lead to more employment; a gradual
shortening of the standard working week, paid work should be expanded to include socially useful
activities which at present were unpaid.
Source `Participating and Belonging" from the Alliance ; The Dominion 8 September 1994 "Call for public works
to occupy jobless"; The New Zealand Herald 8 September 1994 "Jobs for everyone in 12 years Alliance"
- SKILL START PROGRAMME
Getting employers to train young people in new work skills is the aim of the $5 million
Skill Start programme announced in the 93 Budget. It offers a $1000 subsidy to employers to take
on trainees aged 16-21. A recent review of the scheme by AGB McNair found that as many as
90% of the employers indicated they would have taken the young people on without the Skill
Start subsidy. This is not surprising, as three quarters of the employers said they had only heard of
the scheme after they had decided to hire someone. NZH.
- WELFARE FRAUDSTER
New Zealand's greatest welfare
fraudster offered to show the Department how to
close benefit loopholes but he says that officials didn't want to know. Leslie Dalziel was reported in
the Sunday Star-Times as owing Social Welfare $721,453.66 after obtaining unemployment
benefits under 28 aliases over four years. In its editorial, the Sunday Star-Times compares the
$730 million New Zealanders owe Social Welfare with the $200 million Australians owe their
system. Closing the loopholes Dalziel used would seem a good start to reducing benefit fraud.
Source Sunday Star-Times 18 September 1994 "Biggest bludger pays debt" by Lee Umbers
- FROM DOLE TO JOB SEARCH
The dole should be replaced by a Job Search
allowance in the first six months after a person loses their job. This is one of the main recommendations in the
Employers Federation submission to the Employment Taskforce. They envisage that the allowance should be paid at
a higher rate than the unemployment benefit, to enable the person to pay for the costs of CV
preparation, papers, transport and clothing. In this period the person would be responsible for
undertaking their own job search without the help of the Employment Service.
For people who did not find a job after six months, the Employers believe they should
then go on the unemployment benefit under an individual case management, and be required to
undertake training, work experience, or subsidised work as directed.
Source The New Zealand Herald 20 September 1994 "Employers Federation calls for cuts to dole" by Anamike Vasil
- EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Employers are not undertaking employment equity
programmes voluntarily, so Labour's women's affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Tennet, is introducing a
private members bill which seeks to re-establish an equal employment opportunities office. Since the Employment Equity
Act was repealed in 1990, no progress has been made on the proportion of women in
management positions despite the increasing numbers of women in the paid workforce. The difference
between the average wages of men and women has also not
reduced. The Bill would require employers of 50 or more staff to develop equity programmes to improve the status of
women, ethnic minorities and the disabled.
- MAORI WOMEN IN BUSINESS
Maori women make excellent business women, according to a Women's Affairs
Ministry resource booklet, "Maori Women: Steps to Enterprise". A 1990 study had found that
many enterprise assistance programmes didn't meet the needs of Maori women. The booklet
gives sources of information and funding, how to develop a business plan and has a list of Maori
business and professional women.
Source The Dominion 19 September 1994 "Booklet encourages Maori businesswomen"
- JOBS IN THE HOUSING SECTOR
Prospects look good for jobs in the housing
sector. New housing permits from local authorities in August were up 25.5% on the same time last year. Trevor Allsebrook of the
Master Builders Federation tells the Dominion that higher mortgage interest rates weren't dampening
the enthusiasm to build new homes. Figures from the Housing Ministry show that NZ could be
heading for its biggest population growth since World War II
and a consequent housing boom. NZ has, at 74%, the fourth highest home ownership rate in the world behind Ireland, Spain
Source The Dominion 22 September 1994 "New houses up 44pc" by Mike Booker
- SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT
The Anglican Church recommends that the Government should introduce a
Social Responsibility Act similar to the Fiscal Responsibility Act. In a recommendation to the
Employment Taskforce which echoes similar suggestions by economist Suzanne Snively, the
Church recommends that employment should be treated with exactly the same degree of urgency
as inflation. They say that an unemployment target of 0-2% should be adopted, and
an Employment Commission established with research capacities and resources equal to those of the
Reserve Bank and its governor. Also recommended : establishing
a Peace Corps whereby young people could be engaged to help in New Zealand and around the Pacific.
Source The New Zealand Herald 24 September 1994 "Anglicans want jobless target set"; The Dominion 24 September
1994 "Church stresses job importance"
- LONGER HOURS
A paradox in these days of high unemployment :
New Zealanders are working longer hours than before - a total average of 39.18 paid hours a week. This is the highest figure
since surveys began. Statistics NZ.
Source The New Zealand Herald 23 September 1994 "record numbers in work"
- FULL-TIME JOBS
Fulltime jobs in NZ in May are up 51,800 on the previous year to total 1,007,500. This
is less than the number of fulltime jobs counted when the survey began in February 1987
at 1,014,000. Growing sectors : Retail and wholesale, restaurants and hotels, and
manufacturing. Statistics NZ.
The total number of filled jobs has been pushed to an all-time high however - by the
growth in part time work. There are now a record 1,394,500 filled jobs in the NZ economy
with 387,100 or 27% of them part-time. Statistics NZ.
Source The New Zealand Herald 23 September 1994 "record numbers in work"; The Dominion 23 September 1994
"part-time work boosts job figures"
- BENEFIT DAYS TO BE STAGGERED
New proposal from Income Support announced to
stagger benefit paydays throughout the week. This would have the effect of eliminating "benefit days" from the retailing week.
Source The New Zealand Herald 1 September 1994 "Plan to stagger benefit payday"
- FEMALE UNDERCLASS IN CASUAL AND PART-TIME WORK
Women in Europe and North America are emerging as a "special underclass" in
poorly paid part-time and temporary
positions with little security or job protection. A United
Nations report for the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) says that women's
renumeration has dropped since the 1980's, as has the general quality and choice of employment available to them.
Says the report : " Women continue to be segregated into traditionally female
occupations, particularly in the service sector. While women's participation in the labour force has
increased substantially over the past 20 years, the trend has not produced a significantly higher
proportion of women in managerial or decision-making
Source The New Zealand Herald 21 September 1994 "job outlook bleak for women"
" Without employment, life withers. Employment is the single most critical socio-economic
factor that any country could aim for, providing not only income but satisfaction in life. "
-- the Rev Richard Randerson, Anglican social responsibility Commissioner
" No matter how hard you try, some of the people who are suffering will slip through the
cracks. We will have some suicides. There will be marriage break-ups, we will have the domestics.
We will have the children who slip behind, and are lost. "
-- Dennis Emery, Feilding Resource Centre for redundant Weddel workers, speaking to
Gordon Campbell in the Listener.
" I don't think your school would like you saying that to the Prime Minister. I don't think
they would like you calling me a liar. I think you had better go. "
-- Jim Bolger, admonishing a Burnside High student who said that Bolger's claim that no-one
was starving in NZ was a lie.
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