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    Letter No.57
    27 March, 1997

    6 March 1997

    The government announces that National Party MPs will chair ten of the 12 parliamentary select committees. ACT and NZ First MPs will chair the other two. John Major announces plans to privatise the British superannuation system.

    7 March 1997

    Carter Holt Harvey Packaging is closing its apple box manufacturing plant in Nelson. The 35 affected staff are being offered jobs in Christchurch.

    8 March 1997

    International Women's Day is marked in NZ by women's groups, the CTU and the NZEI primary school teachers pointing the finger at the gender gap in equal pay. Christchurch Women's Hospital are cutting 10 of its 28 nursing staff.

    9 March 1997

    Minister of Health, Bill English announces the four RHAs will survive the next round of health reforms. While the government promised to abolish them, it is likely they will become branch offices of a single national funding agency.

    Transit NZ general manager, Robin Dunlop cites that the US has cut road traffic by 6% through "telecommuting," that is people working from home rather than travelling to work. The US government funds training programmes to encourage companies to work staff from home.

    10 March 1997

    Telecom staff begin nationwide go-slow industrial action to achieve their aims of a 5% pay rise, retention of existing conditions and a commitment to collective contracts.

    11 March 1997

    Job vacancy ads increased by an average of 0.5% in the February month, according the ANZ's latest survey.

    The State Services Commission reports that most government departments have vacancies they can not fill. Vacancies are primarily mid-level (rather than entry-level), and the report highlights the problems departments are having competing with the private sector for skilled staff.

    Winston Peters tells the NZ Investment Conference that it is the government's intention to lower corporate taxes in the long term.

    Australian Treasurer Peter Costello says that gambling in Australia is probably detracting from retail sales.

    Tasman Energy chief admits that domestic energy prices will have risen 30% in the first five years of deregulation.

    12 March 1997

    In response to a written question in the House, Defence Minister Paul East states that over the past five years the defence forces have dwindled by over 6,500 people.

    Tourist arrivals in NZ grew 9% on the previous year, according to an OECD report. On average OECD nations had 3.4% growth.

    13 March 1997

    The Prime Minister states that the current pension plan will soon become unaffordable after the surtax is removed next year.

    ACC announces that it views its core business as serious injuries and rehabilitation. A proposed cost cutting measure signals what may be ACC dropping its responsibilities for claims which are for less than five weeks.

    US nun Sister Connie Driscoll speaks at a $65 a head dinner at the Park Royal Hotel in Wellington to promote her views on getting government out of welfare. She has been brought to NZ by the Business Roundtable, and will speak at an ACT conference in Auckland.

    14 March 1997

    Over half of NZ's top 100 companies are anticipating making an increased number of senior executives redundant in the next year, according to a survey by career management consultants Davidson and Associates.

    Statistics NZ states that labour costs rose 2.4% during 1996.

    Prospective employees at the Kinleith mill expansion project are being tested for drug use. The Beyond Poverty conference opens at the Massey University Albany campus.

    15 March 1997

    Food processing giant Heinz announces it will cut 2,500 jobs worldwide to improve its competitiveness. Prior to this, the company's net income rose over $20 million in the last quarter of 1996.

    16 March 1997

    The Beyond Dependency conference opens at the Sheraton Hotel in Auckland.

    A Fielding software firm has sold its first "virtual job interviewer" to the world's largest trainer of air traffic controllers. The software enables companies to apply psychological profiling to all potential job candidates, and throw out CVs that don't make the criteria.

    17 March 1997

    Protest leader Sue Bradford and 11 others are arrested as demonstrators tried to force their way into the Beyond Dependency conference in Auckland

    Between 50,000 and 120,000 people march in Brussels to demonstrate their anger over rising job losses in Europe.

    18 March 1997

    The Australian government introduces legislation to allow work-for-the-dole schemes to be compulsory. Education Minister Wyatt Creech states that at the end of January, NZ students had borrowed over $1.7 billion. The average student liability is $8,600.

    Statistics NZ publishes that the national debt has risen to $79.8 billion, 7.1% over 1996. This translates to $22,000 for each New Zealander.

    19 March 1997

    Sister Anne Hurley, of the Wiri Sisiters of Compassion challenges Housing Minister Murray McCully to spend a night with her in an over-crowded three-bedroom state house in South Auckland "... and then discuss the real housing crisis in NZ."

    Social Welfare Minister Roger Sowry says he will introduce legislation to give his department greater powers to cut off benefits. The intention is to eliminate the nine days notice the department now has to give to a client who doesn't look for work or work related training, before the benefit is reduced or dropped. The government is seeking an exemption from the Privacy Act for data passed from the Employment Service (which do the work test) to Social Welfare (which pays the benefit).

    20 March 1997

    ACT MP Donna Awatere tells a labour relations conference that the minimum wage should be scrapped to boost Maori employment.

    Social Welfare Minister Roger Sowry reports that 142 people from government departments had attended the Beyond Dependency conference out of a total of 463 delegates. Registration fees for the 64 Social Welfare delegates who attended cost about $90,000.

    21 March 1997

    Rothmans announces it will lay-off 22 employees in its Napier due to a slide in tobacco product sales.

    24 March 1997

    Wyatt Creech announces that student allowances are rising by 2.55% from April to keep pace with the cost of living.

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