Essential Information on an Essential Issue
5 November, 1996
From Full Employment to Full Livelihood: David Korten challenges us to redefine the problem of creating jobs
Jane Kelsey on Hatched, Thatched and Dispatched
Schubert's Razor Gang
Amidst the coalition talks and caretaker government, there's no hard news on the future direction of employment and training policies. Watch for: the influence of former NZES officer and now head NZ First strategist Peter McCardle on the future of employment programmes. Our pick: work-for-the-dole schemes involving compulsory community work or training will be introduced.
Source -- pure speculation by Vivian Hutchinson
There's a major publicity campaign looming against a Bill before parliament seeking to give redundancy payments preferential status in a company receivership or liquidation. Jenni McManus reports in the Independent that if the Bill is passed, redundancy payments will rank alongside PAYE taxes, GST, wages and holiday pay -- and ahead of unsecured creditors. The Status of Redundancy Payments Bill also proposes scrapping the current $6,000 limit on preferential payments on wages under the Companies Act.
The private members' Bill was introduced by MP Rick Barker in the wake of the Weddel meatworks collapse, in which workers are said to have missed out on millions of dollars of redundancy payments because they were forced to stand in line with other unsecured creditors.
The Joint Insolvency Committee (made up of NZ Law Society and NZ Society of Accountants) is urging new MPs to defer consideration of the Bill. The committee contends that redundancy is not a payment for work done. Rather, it is compensation to remove some immediate financial worry associated with job loss. The committee says that in some cases, workers receive a windfall as they quickly find other jobs after being made redundant.
Source -- The Independent 1 November 1996 "Insolvency Bill threatens creditors" by Jenni McManus.
Teacher shortages. The staffing crisis continues for primary schools who are presently engaged in a series of meetings to discuss how to find and retain teachers for next year. The NZ Educational Institute is deeply concerned about the impact of teacher shortages on children's education and about what it sees as the Government's failure to stem the outflow of beginning and experienced teachers. They also feel that there is an urgent need for pay parity with secondary teachers, to stop the number of primary teachers moving into secondary schools to take advantage of the higher pay rates. (Last year's pay parity deal is not due to take effect until February 1998).
NZEI President Bill Noble told the Dominion : "Something has to be done now to inject some realism into the government response ... by 1998, there will be an additional 30,000 primary-school-age children."
Source -- The Dominion 2 November 1996 "Teacher shortage sparks meetings" by Murray Williams
The Listener last week interviewed a Scottish teacher Gillian McElhinney who was brought to NZ to meet the staffing shortages in Otara schools. Her feedback: "At home [Scotland], teachers are pretty undervalued, but here it's chronic. I've spoken to teachers who have two other jobs just to make ends meet..." Fellow Scottish teacher Nicola Dickson says she had been won over by a convincing sales pitch by the British agents for an Auckland-based teacher recruiting company. The interviewers told her that classes were capped at 26 students, that there was a comprehensive public transport system, and that the cost of living was cheap. Walking into Otara's Clydemore Primary School on the first day she suddenly got the point: "I remember seeing all these kids in the playground, but no white kids. That really struck me ..."
The Scotswomen say they were starting to enjoy their jobs, after struggling to launch their teaching careers in another country. They report that their fellow graduates in Scotland are competing for scraps of relief teaching in a tight jobs market, while they have gained the experience of handling their own permanent classes.
Source -- The Listener 26 October 1996 "Perseverance pays off" by Matt Philp.
New technology is killing kiwi jobs, and the new government should set up a commission to deal with the impact of technology on employment. This is the view of NZ industrial relations consultant Gerry Evans, who says there is increasing evidence worldwide that displaced workers are not learning new skills or finding productive jobs in the new economy. Evans : "US labour analysts predict that by the year 2000, 60% of the new jobs created in America will require skills held by just 20% of the current workforce..."
Evans says that in the past, NZ had a safety net for those without a university education. Manual workers with some skills could make a good living, as could watersiders, freezing workers, miners, seamen, and some production workers. Evans: "Their wages made an important contribution to the economy at all levels. More importantly, these occupations were open to those who had failed in the education system... They are now dinosaurs."
"In aeronautic terms, technology in the NZ workplace is probably at the stage of the Tiger Moth. The next five years could see it reach the stage of the moon rocket ... with devastating effects on employment." Evans's recommendation: Industries making half their workforce redundant while doubling or trebling profits should be responsible for the costs of retraining their displaced workers, and making a contribution to their welfare payments.
Source -- The Independent 1 November 1996 "Info age increasing wage gap and killing off workforce" by Gerry Evans
The number of people on the unemployment benefit is dropping, but numbers claiming the sickness and domestic purposes benefits are increasing at an alarming rate, according to Margaret Bazley, director-general of Social Welfare. She told delegates at a youth justice conference in Wellington last week that an extra 5,000 people a year were signing up on the DPB.
Other stats from her speech: 268,000 NZ children live in welfare-dependent homes, 30% of children live in sole-parent homes, and 76% of children in sole-parent families were in the lowest income group.
Source -- The Daily News 1 November 1996 "Welfare Boss: Dependence increasing" by NZPA
"Beyond Dependency" is the theme of a major conference being hosted in NZ next march by the Social Welfare Department in conjunction with the OECD. The Department describes the conference as a "watershed for welfare", and major national and international speakers will focus on the problems associated with welfare dependency, and examine 'innovative and successful' welfare initiatives from around the world.
The conference has significant funding from the Department of Labour and ACC, as well as many other government departments and corporate sponsors such as Clear and Westpac. Registration fees for the four day conference will cost $1475 --$1675 per participant, which does not include accommodation costs. For further information contact the Department of Social Welfare or view their Internet site at http://www.beyond.dependency.org.nz.
Source -- Registration Brochure from the Beyond Dependency conference sent to the Jobs Letter.
Voice : "The media ignores the obvious fact that planned high unemployment and the abandonment of national hope are the primary causes of crime and the erosion of civic compliance. In place of this obvious truth, is offered a mythology which blames the victims: they lack "family values", they are lazy, they have a genetic predisposition to crime, they are habitual offenders -- the only solution is to lock them up. How one can follow "family values", when one has no family income, is strangely absent from "public debate". -- Irish activist Richard K. Moore, 14 October 1996, "America and The New World Order", Cyberlib.
Source -- Richard K. Moore - firstname.lastname@example.org - Wexford, Ireland Cyberlib: www | ftp --> ftp://ftp.iol.ie/users/rkmoore/cyberlib
A new growth business with plenty of jobs and even a new breed of commodities trader has emerged in the United States. The nature of the trade: prisoners. Right now, Texas is importing. It has been on a massive prison-building spree, and will have empty cells for a few months. It needs to fill them or jobs will be at risk. Other states such as Arizona and New Jersey can't build its prisons quick enough so is happy to trade its prisoners to Texas ... for the right price.
Prisons are proving to be a major new factor in the US economy, and are now its largest growth industry. There are even "Jail Expos" which advertise construction and armaments services to tap into the $65 billion US jail market. Politicians in search of politically saleable solutions to crime have passed laws putting more people in jail for longer. New "war on drugs'" laws have ensured that many petty drug criminals will remain behind bars for as long as many rapists or murderers. The US Justice Department reports that over the past ten years the rate of incarceration in America has jumped 113%, with the numbers of men and women in US prisons now totalling 1.6 million people. Texas alone has more prisoners than the whole country had in 1948.
Russia is the world's number-one jailer with 611 out of every 100,000 Russians behind bars in 1994. The US is not far behind with 578 people per 100,000. Compare this to NZ locking up about 135, and Britain 100. The US prison boom is however leading to a bust in funds available for other social services. California, for example, spent more on its prisons last year than on higher education.
Sources - ABC news 20 August 1996, and Guardian Weekly 2 June 1996 "America offers a bull market in jails" by Ian Katz, Jail per 100,000 figures from research by NZ prison worker Elaine Dyer, fax to the Jobs Letter 15 October 1996
In New Zealand, the Department of Corrections is embarking on more business enterprises as part of their goal of "...having every prison a factory and every inmate a worker." This represents quite a change for the prisons, who have largely embarked on not-for-profit enterprises such as making school furniture, or running forestry and farms. The new "joint" ventures are actively encouraging local businesses to take advantage of the cheap labour within the prison environment. The prisons say they are not trying to compete with established NZ businesses, but are looking at producing goods which are "... destined for a niche market or export, or are otherwise imported."
Example : New Plymouth Prison is currently inviting local businesses to join them in an "industry for inmates" joint venture on a "profit-share" basis. They are offering secure 105 sq. metre space for the enterprise, a labour force of up to 20 men available 8am-5pm, five days a week, and "a commitment to the enterprise". They describe their offer as "... an opportunity you won't want to let escape."
Source -- brochure from New Plymouth Department of Corrections, Winston Powell, General Manager of NP Prison.