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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.39

    20 May, 1996

    the figures from Statistics NZ

    NZ's official unemployment has risen for the first time in nearly three years with a 0.1% rise in the unemployment rate to 6.2%. Statistics NZ reports that the official tally of unemployed people has risen by 2,000 to 110,000 people, or one in sixteen people in the potential workforce.

    There are still more jobs being created in our economy than ever ... the employment figures are up 0.8% to 1.67 million people. But the number of new jobs is growing more slowly than the number of new job-seekers coming onto the labour market.

    The number of people considered "jobless" (a wider definition of unemployment also counted by Statistics NZ) has risen by 1,700 to 187,500 people, or one in ten people in the potential workforce.

    Source - Statistics NZ fax to the Jobs Letter 16 May 1996, and The Dominion 17 May 1996 "Tax incentives `no guarantee of jobs'"

    Economist Brian Easton says the unemployment rate is no longer the best indicator of the current state of the economy. He told IRN news that although the unemployment rate's only slightly up, the overall economy is now stagnating and could be in a recession. Easton's prediction: there'll be more jobs lost before there's any pickup.

    Source - IRN news 17 May 1996, from the Xtra! internet site.

    Bancorp economist Roger Kerr predicts that the unemployment numbers will worsen later this year as a slowdown in the economy stifles job creation, and the coming tax package encourages more people to seek work. Kerr: "There might be more people wanting to work and there might be more financial incentives to work but the new jobs might not be there ...". Kerr's prediction: The official unemployment rate will rise to 6.5%-7.0% next year.

    Will the government's tax cuts package get more beneficiaries into work? Last December, the Treasury predicted that the `carrot-and stick' approach in the package would encourage 10,000 people, and possibly more, into work. Bancorp economist Roger Kerr believes that these predictions can be called into question. He says that the economic slowdown since December, and the higher unemployment forecasts, meant that the chances of those 10,000 people getting a job were much reduced.

    The Reserve Bank also expects the unemployment rate to climb to 6.9%. But Finance Minister Bill Birch doesn't agree with these forecasts. He told Frances Martin of the Dominion that `growth forecasts' are much stronger than that. Birch: " I am confident that we will see growth in the economy and job growth that will lead to a lowering of unemployment over time. That is what the projection in the Budget will say."

    Source - The Dominion 17 May 1996 "Tax incentives `no guarantee of jobs'"

    The number of unemployed registered with NZ Employment continues to fall, with last month's figure being 143,582 people.

    There were 7,778 notified job vacancies at NZ Employment during April, of which 68% were still unfilled at the end of the month.

    In April, there were 18.5 people registered unemployed people for every notified vacancy at NZ Employment.

    Source - NZ Employment fax to the Jobs Letter 16 May 1996

    Fishing Jobs. The Fishing Industry Association (FIA) has agreed on a voluntary code to pay the minimum wage to foreign fishing crews. Under the code, all foreign crew members will be paid the $NZ 6.13 an hour minimum wage by October next year. This compares to some fishing firms paying the foreign crewmen as little as $NZ 10 a day on the job. Despite the voluntary code however, Labour's fisheries spokesman Graham Kelly says he has the voting numbers in Parliament to put the minimum wage requirement into law as part the new Fisheries Bill.

    Although the FIA vote on the code was unanimous, there was still some controversy amongst fishing groups as to the effects the measures will have on local jobs. Some groups contend that more NZers will now become employed on the boats, while others say that the minimum code will lead to uncompetitive fishing contracts, less fish being caught, and less local jobs in the processing of fish. Mike Dormer of Independent Fisheries says that if the minimum wage agreement leads to local charters not reaching their quota limits, then foreign vessels will be able to enter NZ waters (under the UN Convention on Law of the Sea) and catch the unfished quota and return to their home country to process the catch.

    Source - The Independent 19 April 1996 "Hiking foreign fishermen's pay could cost locals jobs, profits"

    Farming jobs. There is a growing number of farm job vacancies with some farmers fearing they will not have enough skilled labour for the coming season. Job advertisements in regional newspapers show shortages of good lower order sharemilkers (people with 29% and 39% contract-milking agreements), farm managers and workers. Avalon Willing reports in The Daily News that while some farmers might manage to attract up to two dozen applicants for a job, many were finding the applicants were unsuitable, underskilled, or were quickly finding alternative employment.

    Taranaki Polytechnic head of land science Mike Hansen says that one of the major problems facing the rural sector is the lack of training to place skilled people into jobs. Hansen: "The perception is they don't need to train which is patently untrue. They may get a job, but they won't progress. The message needs to get out to parents and career advisers that for young people to obtain a satisfactory career in farming they need to do some training. These people are staying away in droves ..."

    Hansen also says that farmer employers needed to get the message about how they treated staff. He says that time off, hours, conditions and wages had to be competitive with other jobs.

    Rumours in the rural community suggest that one of the reasons for the upsurge in demand for lower-order sharemilkers, rather than waged staff, in recent times is the increasing obligations employers face under legislation such as Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Employment Contacts Act, and ACC. Some farmers see sharemilking as a way of avoiding these legally imposed responsibilities because the sharemilkers are deemed to be self-employed.

    Source - The Daily News 25 April 1996 "Skilled farm-labour shortage worsening"

    Immigrant doctors, awaiting medical registration to work, have been told to look for other work or risk losing their income support benefits. There are hundreds of doctors seeking registration to work after being granted permanent residence by the Immigration Service. But the Medical Council is not able to run enough qualifying exams for all the eligible candidates, because of a squeeze on resources. Anna Kominik reported recently in the Dominion that a Sri Lankan doctor was advised by an Employment Service officer to go on a training course or start up a small business or he could lose his unemployment benefit. The NZ Employment Service has confirmed that anyone registered as an employable person is expected "to accept reasonable work offers".
    Source - The Dominion 23 April 1996 "Migrant Medics told to look for other work" by Anna Kominik

    New Zealand's Medical Council could look to following the Australian example of how to recognise migrant doctors' qualifications. The Australians are considering provisional recognition for some suitably experienced overseas-trained doctors, using them to fill in areas of medical need, under supervision. This provisional registration would depend on the doctors also promptly updating their training needs.

    Source - New Zealand Herald 18 May 1996 "NZ may follow Australian lead on overseas doctors."

    Workers at the Juken Nissho triboard mill in Kaitaia were facing 32 redundancies after a slump in the market for the plant's veneer product. They have avoided the redundancies by agreeing to have their hours and pay slashed 20 per cent.
    Source - New Zealand Herald 7 May 1996

    By the year 2000, about 17% of the workforce will have debts incurred from the student loan scheme, according to a paper published by a new education group the Public Tertiary Education Coalition. It says that NZ is now spending less on tertiary education than some of its important competitors, and tertiary institutions operate on 60% of the resourcing budget of comparable countries such as Australia.

    The coalition includes the Association of University Staff, the Association of Polytechnics, and the Aotearoa Polytechnic Students' Union, and aims to highlight the `consequences' for NZ as a whole if present funding policies continue.

    Source - The Dominion 29 April 1996 "Student debt concerns group"

    Trend: Taking on temporary staff in NZ is starting to become a boom business in itself. Gary Withers, the general manager of Drake International, says his temp business in NZ has grown 300% in the last five years, and they are placing more than 2,000 temps a day. Withers: "In 25 years operating in NZ, we have never been so busy..." Hot area: the office temps. Office temps with experience in two software programmes Word for Windows Version 6 and Excel spreadsheets can expect to earn about $16 an hour, plus holiday pay.

    Gay Barton, the Auckland area manager of Drake Overload, says that employers are still fearful of committing to someone full-time, especially of coming through the redundancies of three years ago. Barton: "They don't want their fingers burned, and temping is a great way for both the employer and employee to `try before they buy'..."

    Source - Sunday Star-Times 21 April 1996 "Temp work gets serious"

    Residential Training Institutions (RTI) should be established for young people who leave formal schooling without any job qualifications, and who are in danger of falling into a growing group of unemployed without the skills, discipline or attitudes to get a job or hold one. This is the proposal of David Coy, a senior lecturer with the School of Management Studies at Waikato University, who believes that such a fully funded training scheme would break down the vicious cycle of long-term unemployment and the ugly accompanying social and criminal problems of what he calls a `pariah class' which features daily in the court reports.

    Coy's proposal, reprinted recently in the Independent, is that some pilot RTIs should be established immediately, to which local young people will be required to attend. The residential nature of the training programmes would be deliberate, in order "to move youngsters away from a likely hostile and negative domestic environment into one supportive of education and cultivating harmonious attitudes towards society..." Coy: "Economic growth and trickle down will never reach these outcasts who have become NZ's `pariah class'. Their condition is possibly the most distressing problem facing NZ today, and yet policies to address the issue with either creativity or vigour are nowhere to be seen."

    Source - The Independent 26 April 1996 "RTS: rooting out the pariahs with fully funded training."

    One out of three British companies are now allowing their employees to take time off to do voluntary work with community groups. This is the report of Kenn Allen, president of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), who has recently been visiting volunteer agencies in NZ. According to Allen, British volunteer agencies take employees of profit-making companies and puts them in touch with local community groups.

    Allen: "All parties gain from such a scheme. Private sector expertise and a different perspective to problem-solving helps community groups. The volunteers learn a great deal from the community organisations, and companies raise their profiles." Under the scheme, companies can second employees to the community group. It may be someone whom they feel would gain experience that would help them develop their careers ... or someone near the end of their career that the company wants to keep but can spare for some time.

    Source - City Voice 11 April 1996 "Voluntary business" by Bill Vella

  • Question : Why do you think that measures for equal opportunities and equal pay for men and women in the workplace have basically stalled in NZ over the past five years?

    It's official: Overwork is bad for your health and could kill you. A report in the [[[British Medical Journal by researchers Susan Michie and Anne Cockcroft says that higher workloads do increase disease and death rates, and overwork can bring on heart attacks, bronchitis or even violent behaviour. They cite Danish, Italian, Swedish and British studies to support their theory. The Danish study followed 2465 bus drivers over seven years and showed the incidence of death and hospital treatment in those with higher workloads was more than twice that of the group with easier jobs.

    Source - Evening Standard 12 April 1996 "Work overload can be a killer"

    The European Court of Justice has confirmed European Union plans to fight overwork through working time limits, which are being legislated as a health and safety measure. The EU legislation, which is a centrepiece of the EU Social Action Programme, sets a 48-hr limit to the working week, including overtime. The British Government, the only EU state without limits on hours of work, tried to veto the measures but was defeated in March at a hearing in the European Court.

    Under the EU legislation, employees cannot be required to work more than 48 hrs a week, an employee must be offered at least 11 hrs off each day and one day off a week. They have a minimum right of four weeks paid holiday and for work days of over six hours a break must be provided. The employees are allowed to work longer hours if they want to, and the 48 hr week is averaged over four months.

    Source - The Guardian Weekly 24 March 1996 "Tories will fight `stupid' 48-hour week"

    Internet Bookmark : An International Job Creation Campaign ...
    This is the internet site for an innovative campaign by Sven Martinsen, of Norway, to get companies to introduce `job creation' as a competitive factor in business, Martinsen asks : If almost everyone in business life stress that market orientation is crucial for commercial success, why hasn't job creation been established as a competitive factor long time ago? And if environmental friendliness is a selling argument in marketing, why shouldn't employment friendliness act as same?

    Martinsen's campaign is in three steps. (1) develop a market symbol that identifies registered supporting companies as part of the `create more jobs' network. (2) shaping a company rating system that focuses on job creation and sustainable growth factors (3) promoting the rating system amongst companies and consumers.

    Martinsen : " Remember that there are 20 million unemployed citizens in Europe alone. Add to that number the millions of employees that feel insecurity in their jobs every day! Apart from price and quality there is every reason to believe that job creation will accelerate to be an important factor when choosing products and services. Recent election polls in the industrialised world support such a belief Unemployment is the big issue."

    Send your internet bookmarks to

    In the past year, the issues of employment and unemployment appear to have developed a `Bermuda Triangle' effect. This is the view of Ruma Karaitiana of the Palmerston North Enterprise Board, who argues that attention needs to go back on these issues in order to generate positive action at a community level. Karaitiana: "Whilst some people and some political parties continue to speak about it, it has quietly slipped from the top of the agenda and the voices that speak seem to be coming from somewhere in the distance. The media have lost interest and their attention is elsewhere..."

    Karaitiana writes in the Manawatu Guardian that it appears the government has decided the marketplace is taking care of employment, and they have lost any allegiance to doing something about unemployment. Although a number of government departments have taken actions internally as a response to the Employment Taskforce report ... "the result has been more about internal efficiencies than tangible community outcomes."

    Karaitiana: "Government departments have vertical lines of policy and accountability and inevitably exist primarily to serve government and not the local community. Local communities need to be able to cut through these vertical lines and establish a way to introduce local needs, local solutions, and local accountabilities..."

    Source - Guardian 17 April 1996 "Put employment back on the agenda" by Ruma Karaitiana.

    Conferences (1). The Queensland University of Technology is to convene Australia's third National Conference on Unemployment, 13-15 June 1996 in Brisbane.

    The theme is "Policy and Practice" and will look at current individual and social strategies to combat unemployment.

    Contact QUT, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Queensland 4001 phone OZ -07-3864-2111.

    Conferences (2). Social Cohesion, Justice and Citizenship The Role of the Voluntary Sector, is to be held 3-5 July at Victoria University in Wellington. It is the biennial conference of the Australia NZ Third Sector Research Ltd, and is co-hosted by the Maori Congress.

    The conference will review ideas about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, social justice and social cohesion, and the role of voluntary organisations.

    Contact David Robinson, 113 Creswick Tce, Northland, Wellington phone 04-475-9275, or e@mail

    "Our first obligation is to stop behaving like primitive tribes people. The cargo-cult mentality among Dunedin's business community is a major obstacle to any serious discussion of the city's future. Whether it be an aluminium smelter at Aramoana, a meat processing plant on the Taieri, an environmentally suspect timber mill at Allanton, or a casino in central Dunedin, the message is the same. Only monstrous, ecologically damaging, and socially destructive projects, preferably foreign-owned and financed, can rescue Dunedin's fortunes.
    "This simply is not the case. Such projects are, by their very nature, highly exploitative. They suck resources from both the natural environment and the local economy. Like the gold mines of the last century, such `development projects' produce only a short-term boost in economic performance, and when the resource is exhausted, or as the prices of basic commodities fall below profitable levels, the industry disappears, leaving its host weaker and more vulnerable than it was before the so-called economic `stimulant' was injected..."
    from Dunedin Mayor Sukhi Turner's `State of the City' address to the Dunedin Lions Club 22 April 1996

    " In a world in which the prime mechanism for distributing the wealth we have learned to create has been pay for work, the disappearance of work has serious implications.
    " It means that we are able to generate wealth, to invent almost anything we decide to invent, and to achieve command over nature for the first time ... yet no-one will have the money, no-one will be able to buy anything."
    Bernard Muller-Thym, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speaking to the International Chamber of Commerce 1963

    " All our politicians and economists seem to assume that today's problem is one of providing jobs in a world where jobs are being done away with.
    " The problem is not one of providing jobs. The problem is one of providing incomes. The super rich of this world did not get that way by being paid by the hour. They get that way from the ownership of income-producing assets."
    J Martin Hattersley QC, Edmonton, Canada, March 1996

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