Essential Information on an Essential Issue
19 July, 1996
Essential summaries of two papers from the 3rd Australian Conference on Unemployment, QUT, Brisbane
- UNEMPLOYMENT NOT AN ELECTION ISSUE
Election 96: 'Unemployment' has been clearly toppled in the list of issues that are most important to voters in NZ. In a recent New Zealand Herald/Waikato University poll, unemployment -- once the major concern of the electorate -- now attracts attention from only 6% of the voters. Health care issues top the list of concerns (at 35%), followed by education (19%) and economic issues (16.7%) Waikato University political scientist Dr Alan Simpson says that the economy "... has disappeared as an election issue...", with only National supporters expressing much interest.
Source - New Zealand Herald 13 July 1996 "Health services most pressing concern for voters:survey"
- FALL IN BUSINESS CONFIDENCE
The New Zealand Herald also reported last week that a fall in business and consumer confidence (see Diary) was starting to hurt small Auckland contractors, a group traditionally at the leading edge of work slumps. Joe Helm reports that while industry associations, who represent mostly larger contractors, say they have plenty of work ... it is the smaller contractors who feel the changes in the business environment first, whether the change is for the better or worse. Small contractors are reporting many work projects "drying up" with their customers blaming the higher interest rates, and a lack of confidence that they will fall soon.
Source - New Zealand Herald 8 July 1996 "Confidence fall hits smaller contractors" by Joe Helm.
- JOBS BETWEEN OZ AND NZ
The transtasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement signed last week means that any person registered to practice an occupation in NZ, can also practice an equivalent occupation in Australia. Professional registrations and qualifications accepted in one country will now be automatically accepted in the other. This will eliminate the need to resit qualifying examinations or undergo lengthy validation procedures. The arrangement removes most of the remaining restrictions on the movement of people across the Tasman who also want to work. The arrangement will not come into force until legislation is passed in both the NZ and Australian parliaments.
The only exempt occupation in the arrangement, at Australia's request, is the medical professionbecause the Australians say they are "awash in general practitioners" are trying to bring in measures which will mean that foreign doctors have to first set up business in areas of need, before moving to their area of preference.
Source - New Zealand Herald 10 and 11 July 1996 "Tasman professions, trades standardise" and "Bolger: pact boosts trade and labour"
- JOBSEEKER DIARIES : NEW MEASURES IN OZ
Also in Australia, the government has introduced new measures for the jobless which will force jobseekers to keep a diary of their efforts to find work, and include setting up a hotline for employers to dob in people who did not turn up for interviews. Social Security Minister Jocelyn Newman estimates the measures will save her government up to A$100m in benefit costs.
Current Australian forms do not require jobseekers to be specific about the work they have sought, and only require them to look for two jobs a fortnight. The new Jobseeker Diary will require people to record the name, address and contact details of all positions for which they reply.
Source - The Dominion 16 July 1996 "Savings seen in job diary"
- MORE ARMY TRAINING FOR JOBLESS
The Army looks set to be asked to train more jobless. The Sunday Star-Times has reported that deputy Prime Minister Don McKinnon and former Defence Minister Warren Cooper have been pushing plans in cabinet to see more unemployed people sent on military training. They want to expand the existing six-week course at Burnham military camp -- currently training 450 people and costing an estimated $6.4m a year -- to train up to 720 people. Mr McKinnon says he wants to extend the programme to the Waiouru military camp, giving North Islanders better access to the training.
Source - Sunday Star-Times 23 June 1996 "Army to train more jobless" by Jane Clifton
- STAFF SHORTAGES IN THE POLICE
The police force is presently 280 officers under strength. It is suffering the loss of large numbers of police officers who are quitting the force. Last year a record 419 officers left, including 300 on medical and psychological grounds. About 240 new police officers graduated during the same period. And Police Association president Greg O'Connor believes that the numbers leaving the force this year will be even higher than last. In order to meet the number of 'front-line hours' that the government is demanding from the force, about 600 new police will be trained in the next financial year to make up for the ongoing losses.
Source - New Zealand Herald 17 July 1996 "Police drive to fill big staff losses"
- DAIRY MERGER : JOB LOSSES COMING
The merger of Taranaki's Kiwi Co-op Dairies Ltd with the Manawatu-Wairarapa's Tui Milk Products took its first step towards creating a billion-dollar dairy giant last week when Manawatu-and Wairarapa dairy farmers voted 74% in support of the merger. A final vote will be taken on the merger plans next month after an audit of the books of both companies.
The Dairy Exporter magazine last month predicted that the merger will costs 700 of Tui's 1000 jobs in the Manawatu and Wairarapa, and 40% of the Dairy Workers Union membership in the central region. The deal has been criticised by some Tui shareholders as more of a takeover than a merger, and industry observers say they expect Kiwi to rationalise operations, based in Hawera. Attributing its forecasts to "industry sources", the Dairy Exporter also predicted that the merger will cost Tui's farmer suppliers $45.7m, or an average of $35,000 each over the next four years.
Source - The Daily News 16 July 1996 "Majority of shareholders in Tui survey reject merger" by Kim Batchelor and NZPA
- FARM WORKER CRISIS LOOMING
"There is a crisis looming in farm labour, and farmers must address the problem of staff shortages by offering more money to workers and making farming a more attractive career option." Taranaki Polytechnic farming head Mike Hansen notes a lack of interest in the Polytech's 20-week farming course, with only four people applying. Hansen: "People are looking at employment opportunities elsewhere, and farmers need to compete."
Hansen says that the minimum wage for farm employees over 20 yrs old was $6.78 per hour which works out at just over $20,000 a year for a 60-hr week. "There are plenty of jobs out there where a person can earn the same money for less hours. The farmers say they can't afford to pay their workers more, but really, they can't afford not to..."
Source - The Daily News 11 July 1996 "Only four enrol in farm course" by Neil Holdom
- MANPOWER ARRIVES IN NZ
The world's largest private employer has set up an office in Auckland, and plans further offices in Wellington and Christchurch later this year. Manpower Services, the US temping giant, last year employed 1.6 million people worldwide. Its corporate clients, from manufacturers to professional firms, use casual staff to meet seasonal needs, support sales campaigns and undertake one-off projects.
Managing director for Australia and NZ Manpower Malcolm Jackson says that the use of contract workers has become an integral part of doing business. In moving into NZ, Manpower's global philosophy will be treating Australia and NZ as a single employment market. Job applicants in NZ will be required to sit the same "sophisticated battery of assessment exams" as their Manpower counterparts in Australia, New York or Wisconsin.
Jackson says that in Australia, about one in five workers is employed on some sort of casual contract, either with an employer or a staffing agency. Jackson told the Dominion: "People can definitely be exploited, there's absolutely no doubt about that. What you see is people taking on large numbers of staff, flicking them, getting rid of them ..." But Jackson says the staffing agencies, however, were able to give temporary staff ongoing employment by moving them from one company to another.
Source - The Dominion 3 July 1996 "US temping giant plans to open Wellington office" by Anna Smith.
- VOICE :
"I am unemployed. Due to the massive Auckland rent increases I can no longer afford to live there. New Zealand's largest labour market is now closed to me..." -- C.G.Gilmore, Hamilton, in a letter to the editor of the Sunday Star-Times
- ST JOHN ON INDEPENDENT FAMILY TAX CREDIT
The new Independent Family Tax Credit should be amalgamated with family support and given to all families. This is the view of Auckland University economics lecturer Susan St John, who believes that the tax credit (which started on July 1st) puts children's needs secondary to promoting the work ethic. St John: "It is hard to imagine why anyone would design a payment to assist with the costs of children in low-income families, that actually disappears when the family falls on hard times. Nevertheless this is what has happened."
St John describes a mother in a low-income family of four who finds her $30 ($60 by July 97) a week tax credit disappears when her husband becomes unemployed or is unfortunate enough to be disabled for longer than three months. Each of her children will qualify for only a $2.50 ($5 by July 97) a week increase in family support. In the meantime, a childless high-income earner gains $22.50 ($45 by July 97) a week from the tax and benefit package.
St John: "It cannot be argued seriously that families who do not qualify for the tax credit have lower childcare costs. Nor can the discrimination be justified on the grounds that work effort must be rewarded; this would suggest that all workers should be eligible. It is hard to imagine why a work incentive should be calibrated by the number of one's children..."
- see also Jobs Letter No.44 and Jobs Letter No.47
Source - New Zealand Herald 12 July 1996 "New tax credit ignores children of the poor" by Susan St John
- STOP POVERTY CAMPAIGN
A Stop Poverty Campaign will be launched on August 18 by the Council of Christian Social Services in order "to remind church members and the public that the United Nations Year for the Eradication of Poverty was as relevant here as well as overseas". Council executive officer Bonnie Robinson says that the campaign will include an open letter from prominent members of the council's six churches on a Christian response to poverty, and a series of studies on poverty for church groups.
Robinson: "We may not have people starving to death, but we do have people who need food banks to feed their families. Poverty affects about a third of NZ's children, and it is unacceptable that so many children are affected by poverty in a developed country."
Source - New Zealand Herald 13 July 1996 "Poverty in NZ unacceptable"
- NORTH and SOUTH on POVERTY
Media Watch: This month's North and South magazine contains a comprehensive look at the state of poverty in NZ. "Show Me Your Poor -- a wake-up call on poverty" has been compiled by N&S senior writers Nicola Legat and Cate Brett.
- CHILD LABOUR PERSISTS
A recent report from the United Nations says that 73m children - or one in eight - are working full-time, and they will turn into the world's uneducated adults. Most of them are in Asia or Africa, but the UN also says that child labour is also growing in Eastern Europe and also the United States. The UN describes the child labour as 'slave' labour, and says it is an extremely serious problem in industries such as agriculture, carpet manufacturing and prostitution.
Source - ABC News item 11 June 1996
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