Essential Information on an Essential Issue
20 May, 1996
- THE GENDER PAY GAP
the figures from Statistics NZ
- UNEMPLOYMENT ON THE RISE
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
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
Source - NZ Employment fax to the Jobs Letter 16 May 1996
- MINIMUM WAGE TO FOREIGN FISHERMEN
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"
- SHORTAGE OF SKILLED FARMWORKERS
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
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"
- DOCTORS ON THE DOLE TOLD TO LOOK FOR OTHER WORK
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."
- CUTS AVERT REDUNDANCIES
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
- PUBLIC TERTIARY EDUCATION COALITION
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"
- BOOM FOR TEMP AGENCIES
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 PROPOSAL
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."
- BRITISH COMPANIES SUPPORT VOLUNTEERING
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?
- HEALTH RISKS FROM OVERWORK
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
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"
- JOB CREATION CAMPAIGN
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 email@example.com
- "BERMUDA TRIANGLE" EFFECT ON EMPLOYMENT ISSUES ?
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 David.Robinson@vuw.as.nz
"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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