Essential Information on an Essential Issue
16 October, 1995
- THE REINVENTION OF WORK
Mathew Fox on a New Vision of Livelihood in Our Time.
- JOB PACKAGE SOON
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"
- ECONOMY SLOWING DOWN
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"
- FOUR-DAY WEEK CONSIDERED
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"
- MANUFACTURERS APPEAL FOR LOWER INTEREST RATES
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"
- NO ECONOMIC GROWTH
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"
- BUSINESS CONFIDENCE LOW
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
Source - New Zealand Herald 29 September 1995 "Confidence lowest for four years, survey finds"
- SLOWDOWN IN JOB ADVERTS
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"
- TAX PACKAGE
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
- CHILDLESS BENEFICIARIES MISSING OUT
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 CRITICAL OF "HAND-UP"
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"
- "SLAP IN THE FACE"
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"
- LOW AND MIDDLE-INCOME EARNERS MISSING OUT
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
- RICH AND POOR GAP DETAILED BY IRD RETURNS
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
- JOBS IN FORESTRY
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"
- CHILDREN OF LOW INCOMES INTO PRIVATE SCHOOL SCHEME
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"
- STATE HOUSING TENANTS EVICTED
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"
- RUTH RICHARDSON'S SOCIAL POLICY RECIPE
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"
- AUSTRALIA'S UMBRELLA FOR COMMUNITY TRAINING PROVIDERS
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
- CANADIAN TV DOCO ON MARILYN WARING'S CRITIQUE
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
- INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLING JOB SEEKERS GUIDE
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..."
- EMPLOYERS LOOK FOR ATTITUDE
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"
- RECOGNITION OF VOLUNTARY WORK NEEDED
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
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
- JOB INSECURITY
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)
- JOB SHARING CATCHING ON
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
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