Return to Jobsletter Home

To the last Jobs Letter

To the next Jobs Letter

To this Letters Diary

To this Letters Features

To the Index







    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.26

    16 October, 1995

    Mathew Fox on a New Vision of Livelihood in Our Time.

    The government will unveil its long-awaited job package this Thursday, which will include its own response to last year's Employment Taskforce. It is expected to contain `carrot-and-stick' measures to get beneficiaries back into work. The Minister of Employment, Wyatt Creech, describes the measures as the "most comprehensive public policy development" in the employment area in many years.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 5 October 1995 "Govt reveals date but no details of job plan"
    Latest figures show that the economy is slowing faster than expected, and this is prompting opposition parties and the CTU to call on the Reserve Bank to ease up on its monetary policy settings. If they did this, interest rates would fall, and growth and employment levels would not be pushed below what should be achievable at this time. CTU president Ken Douglas believes that the Reserve Bank recently over-reacted to cool an economy that had already "come off the boil". Douglas: " It is plain that things are slowing up sharply, and that overcooking interest rates and the dollar is both unnecessary and very dangerous as far as jobs are concerned ..."
    Source - New Zealand Herald 30 September 1995 "Growth slowdown brings problems"
    The clothing manufacturer Lane Walker Rudkin is to consider cutting back to a four-day week at some North Island factories. It blames sluggish sales under higher interest rates as prompting the move. The company, which employs 1200 people throughout NZ, says that sales have been slowing for several months, especially in September, and they had already cut overtime work throughout the country.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 30 September 1995 "Job cut fear in slowdown"
    The Wellington Manufacturers Association has pleaded with the Reserve Bank to take its foot off the economic brakes, saying that high interest rates wiped $10 million off the region's manufacturing sales in August. In its survey of business conditions, the Association says that staff numbers and confidence were falling along with sales. Employment in Wellington manufacturing has slipped 12% since March.
    Source - The Dominion 6 October 1995 "Tight rein hurting business, bank told"
    The BERL Monthly Monitor says that, for the first time in six quarters, manufacturing activity has recorded no growth. It says that signs of an economic slowdown are most evident in the manufacturing, construction, trade, restaurant and hotel industries.
    Source - The Dominion 10 October 1995 "Industries reflect slowing economy"
    The National Bank says that business confidence is the lowest for four years, and the chance of finding a new job is the worst since February 1993. The bank's survey of economic activity showed that only 10% of businesses planned to take on more staff in the year ahead, compared to 17% just two months ago, and 25% a year ago. The bank's index of economic activity fell 1% in July. This is the biggest monthly dive since November 1987, the month after the sharemarket crash.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 29 September 1995 "Confidence lowest for four years, survey finds"
    The ANZ Bank reports a continued slowdown in job advertisement growth in its monthly survey of job ads. The annual rate of growth in job ads has slowed to 13.5% in September, compared to an annual rate of 15% in August, and a peak of 70.8% in June 1994.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 10 October 1995 "Job slowdown brings GDP forecast"
    Bill Birch has released further details of his tax package, saying that his strategy has been designed to give low and middle income families a `hand-up' in acknowledgment that financial gains in recent years have not been evenly distributed. The package will focus on getting beneficiaries into jobs, using family support as a mechanism for delivering relief to families, and changes to the abatement rates. Birch: "The Tax Cuts and Hand-Up Programme is driven by a coherent and carefully considered strategy. It aims to help people by giving them a hand-up into work and independence where practicable, to maximise long-term gains for the individual, the family, society and the economy..."
    Source - Bill Birch Minister of Finance "Investing in People - the Hand-Up Programme press release package 2 October 1995
    Social policy consultant Charles Waldegrave predicts that almost 60% of beneficiaries will miss out on the government's hand-up programme, simply because they have no dependent children. He says that 58.2% of people on the benefit would have incomes too low to qualify for tax relief, and they have no children to gain from the proposed family support package. Waldegrave: "This group, the majority of beneficiaries, are simply not referred to in any of the press releases..." Waldegrave says that predictions that the higher income groups would be getting an extra $44 a week under the tax cut package, meant an acceleration of the growing gap between rich and poor.
    Source - The Dominion 4 October 1995 "Poorest miss out on relief"
    Sue Bradford of the Auckland Unemployed Workers Rights Centre says that Bill Birch's tax package covers up for `National's inability to deal adequately with the real needs of low income people...' She says: "We find it patronising for Bill Birch to be talking about giving people a `hand-up' when it's National's policies which have caused increased hardship among the very low income people he proposes to help with his tax cuts ..."
    Source - press release to the Jobs Letter 2 October 1995 "Unemployed response to Birch `hand up' programme"
    Labour's social welfare spokeswoman Annette King agrees: "This isn't a hand-up," she says, "its a slap in the face. Over 200,000 beneficiaries who had their incomes cut in 1991 and were told that it was for the good of the country are now being asked to stand by and watch while Bill Birch dishes out lollies to the well-off..."
    Source - The Dominion 4 October 1995 "Poorest miss out on relief"
    Bill Birch's paper contains a significant acknowledgment that low and middle-income earners have not shared in the recovery. It says that they were most at risk of losing their jobs throughout the economic reforms of the past decade, but some "have made virtually no gain in post-tax income for many years". It says: "...single-income families with two children on the average wage may have added only 20% in real terms to their pre-tax income in the 30 years from 1963 to 1993"

    Patricia Herbert, writing in the New Zealand Herald, reports that a similar phenomenon has occurred in the US where 80% of the workforce is experiencing either wage stagnation or wage erosion. She says this has found political expression in an anti-government vote and explains why Democrats in last year's mid-term elections lost control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans for the first time in four decades.

    Herbert: "It also explains why the pundits in most of the post-industrial economies have been getting their election predictions wrong in recent years. They have been factoring in an economic recovery without recognising that large sections of the population are locked out of its benefits..."

    Source - New Zealand Herald 7 October 1995 "Dream ride getting bumpy" by Patricia Herbert
    Wellington researcher Phillida Bunkle has been gathering statistics on the growth of income inequality in New Zealand. Her research, based on a 2% survey of tax returns by Statistics NZ, shows that, in the past 15 years, rich New Zealanders have gained an extra quarter of the national income. The figures: the share of the country's total income earned by the top fifth of all income taxpayers increased from 39% in 1980 to 65% in 1992. During these same years the income share of the poorest fifth of NZ'ers has dropped from 3.8% to 3.2%.
    Source quoted by Philida Bunkle in City Voice "It's official: rich take from the poor" 14 September 1995
    A Forestry Ministry report says that jobs are returning to the forestry sector, as new owners of Crown cutting rights that were sold five years ago start to gain the `confidence and resource security to invest in the future'. But they have still a long way to go to replace the more than 3000 jobs, or 15% or the forestry workforce, that was lost after the first big round of state cutting rights sales in 1989-90.

    Last month, Bill Birch announced that the government was preparing to sell the cutting rights to further Forestry Corp trees that have a book value of $2.1 million. He said that the government wanted to maximise processing in NZ and generate jobs and earnings. Timber Industries Federation president Alan Tanner told the Dominion that the sale of crown forestry assets does not necessarily lead to more jobs and earnings. Tanner: "The sale of Crown forestry assets has seen not only foreign control of the industry, but also a massive growth in raw log exports. Ten years ago, we processed 90% of our sawlogs in NZ now we process only 60%. It is puzzling to see the government arguing the sale as a means of further processing the sawlogs in NZ when the historical evidence has shown the opposite..."

    The Timber Industries Federation reports that overseas-owned companies now control around 68% of the mature wood available for harvesting in NZ. With the sale of Forestry Corp we could see 88% of mature wood in foreign hands.

    Source - The Dominion 21 September 1995 "Industry fears tree sale will be costly"
    The Targeted Individual Entitlement (TIE) scheme which will give low-income families the chance of getting a child into a private school has had 790 applications from students and their families. Forty-six private schools have agreed to accept 160 government-funded places from families on incomes below $25,000. The three year pilot starts next year.
    Source - The Dominion 29 September 1995 "One chance in five in private school scheme"
    Housing New Zealand last year applied to terminate the tenancy of more than 5% of its 70,000 customers because they were behind in their rents, and almost a third of these applications were granted. Rent arrears applications by Housing NZ to the Tenancy tribunal soared from 792 in 1992-93 to 1,934 in 1994-5.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 27 September 1995 "Housing NZ chases rents"
    Former Finance Minister Ruth Richardson has been on the campaign trail to promote her political memoir, Making a Difference. She believes that NZ is suffering from policy paralysis. Her prescription: A dose of social reform including a six-month time limit on the unemployment benefit, the abolition of the domestic purposes benefit for those unmarried mothers who had not been in an established relationship, a rise in the age of eligibility for superannuation to 70yrs, a voucher system for education, and further privatisations including the sell-off of all state houses and health care. Ms Richardson doesn't believe her proposals would be difficult to sell politically, but "they would need leadership".
    Source - The Dominion 30 September 1995 "Cut dpb and limit dole, says Richardson"
    Skillshare Australia is an Australian employment and skills training organisation that provides TOPS-style job training to long-term and other disadvantaged unemployed people. Skillshare acts as an umbrella organisation for about 400 community-based training providers throughout Australia. It describes itself as a `partnership' between the Australian Community and the Australian Government, and serves to provide training to over 140,000 unemployed Australians each year, with an annual budget of $A125 million.

    Skillshare was set up by the Australian government in 1989, by merging previous youth and community training programmes. The community organisations involved in Skillshare also generate local resources to run their projects the `Community Contribution' which amounts to around a quarter of the funds provided by the government.

    David Thompson, the chief executive officer of Australia's National Skillshare Association, is to visit NZ in December as a guest of COMMACT, the Commonwealth local employment and economic action network. He will be giving presentations on his work in Christchurch and Wellington. Contact Kura Geere-Watson, 9 Blair Avenue, Papanui, Christchurch. 03 352 6075.

    Source - Skillshare Australia information pack 1995, plus biographical notes on David Thompson from COMMACT Aotearoa newsletter Sept 1995
  • COMMACT 1996
    The next international COMMACT conference will be held in September 1996 in Northern Ireland, with registrations closing in July 96. It will be the fourth "Working for Common Wealth" conference which is part of a series of gatherings that has included the Christchurch Common Wealth gathering in 1990, and the Malaysian conference in 1992. Contact Kura Geere-Watson (above) for further details.
    Source - COMMACT Aotearoa newsletter Sept 1995
    TV3 is to screen the Canadian film Who's Counting? on the Sunday of Labour Weekend (October 22nd). The film is based on Marilyn Waring's book Counting for Nothing, and includes her outspoken economic critiques, in particular about women's unpaid work in the global economy.

    The perennial best-seller in guides for job seekers is the American manual What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles (pub. Ten Speed press). It is creatively presented, upbeat in its language and style, and is updated every year! Bolles says that jobs in the US are lasting an average of 4.2 years, and surmises that it is probably similar in other countries. This is why surveys reveal that it is likely that you will have to go job hunting at least eight times in your lifetime. Bolles : " The time you spend on mastering your job-hunt or career-change now will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. On the other hand, if you do it haphazardly now, you are just going to have to master it all over again, next time..."

    Is it a skills shortage or an attitude shortage? A survey by the NZ Employment Service recently asked a sample of 500 employers to prioritise a list of 20 desirable attributes for selecting employees. The results: `qualifications' was ranked in last place in the traits employers considered most desirable.

    Top of the list was `attitude', followed by honesty, tidy appearance, amiability, enthusiasm, reliability, communication skills, motivation, punctuality, experience, flexibility, fast learning, efficiency, commitment, knowledge, education, interest, personality, stability, willingness to work, skills and qualifications.

    Source - The Dominion 5 October 1995 "Employers look for right attitude"
    How do we increase the amount of hours that NZ'ers spend on voluntary work? (see last issue). Darren Quirk, the regional manager of the Wellington Volunteer Centre responds by saying that we need to improve the recognition of voluntary work in the community, and support the mechanisms (such as Volunteer Centres) that encourage volunteering. In a fax to the Jobs Letter, Quirk suggests that volunteers be able to get NZQA credits applicable for the voluntary work that they do. He also supports the suggestion that government should give tax credits to those who volunteer.

    Quirk: "...The United Party are including this in their policy for superannuitants involved in specific community programmes. This tax credit is calculated on an amount for each hour of voluntary work done. In the United States, student loans can be paid off by students doing `approved' voluntary work. This also recognises that learning is not just done in the classroom..."

    Source - fax to the Jobs Letter from Darren Quirk 4 October 1995
    US Secretary of Labour Robert Reich's speeches on the changing workplace and anxious middle-class in western economies have struck a chord with economists and commentators worldwide (see A Warning Bell in Jobs Letter 22). But he is also under fire for the lack of action by the Clinton administration on the very issues which he describes. Harry Keiber, unionist and author of the US LaborTalk column, believes that while Reich's social commentary accurately describes the negative aspects of our society... it ignores the Clinton Administration's own role in fostering the evils he deplores.

    Kelber : "No effort has been made by the President to restrain the epidemic of "downsizing" by virtually every major corporation, which has meant the elimination of hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. In fact, these restructing operations, by lowering labor costs, are viewed as increasing corporate competitiveness in the world market, a high priority target of the White House. Reich's proposal for a 1.5 percent business payroll tax to finance a national job-training program was still-born. The President has abandoned any plan to provide public works jobs for the millions of people who are still unemployed or underemployed. Since the number of people living in poverty has increased, at least part of the blame must fall on the Clinton Administration which, in its chronic practice of placating business, decided not to ask Congress to increase the minimum wage..."

    Source LaborTalk 23 October 1994 "Robert Reich's Rhetoric" by Harry Kelber (from the Internet)
    The idea behind Job Sharing is an idea that is gathering momentum in the industrial world. Throughout Italian workplaces, for example, a slogan is appearing - Lavorare meno, lavorare tutti - work less and everybody works.

    Job Sharing in Germany. The auto-maker BMW in 1990 introduced a four-day, 36 hour week at one of its plants, with an agreement for more flexible working hours. The productivity gains more than offset the cost of taking on more workers, so there was no need for a wage cut. A more recent deal at Germany's Volkswagen involves a four-day week along with a 10% paycut. This has not created new jobs, but saved 31,000 jobs that would otherwise have been eliminated. - from the UN Human Development Report 1994

    Source from the UN Human Development Report 1994

    To the Top
    Top of Page
    This Letter's Main Page
    Stats | Subscribe | Index |
    The Jobs Letter Home Page | The Website Home Page
    The Jobs Research Trust -- a not-for-profit Charitable Trust
    constituted in 1994
    We publish The Jobs Letter