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    Letter No.62
    25 June, 1997

    2 June 1997

    Fifty-five clothing workers about half the staff will be laid off at the Fayreform Lingerie manufacturing plant in South Auckland. The company is pursuing cheaper manufacturing options in Asia.

    3 June 1997

    The Director-General of Social Welfare Margaret Bazley has refused to give personal guarantees to judges regarding welfare placements for young offenders.

    6 June 1997

    Public Sector magazine reports that politicians have ordered the destruction of embarrassing documents rather than be forced to release them under the Official Information Act.

    Average hourly earnings by private sector employees rose 3.7% to $15.85 an hour in the year to February 97.

    India's population is approaching one billion, and, at present rates, would surpass China within 50 years. The country's population explosion threatens to overwhelm its economic efforts. China already has more than a billion people. To put things into perspective, total world population was less than one billion through all of world history until approximately 1840.

    7 June 1997

    TVNZ is to close its Horizon Pacific regional TV channels, with the loss of about 100 staff, replacing them with a music-oriented youth channel.

    8 June 1997

    ACT's social welfare spokeswoman Dr Muriel Newman launches her third book on how to live more cheaply. The book Feasting on the Smell of an Oily Rag is aimed at people who want to cut their food bills. Dr Newman who drives a BMW and lives in picturesque Tutukaka has been widely condemned as being patronising.

    9 June 1997

    After a week of torrential rain and flash flooding in the Far North, PM Jim Bolger approves the use of Taskforce Green workers to clean up properties.

    Further restructuring within Telecom could see as many as 400 people lose their jobs during the next three years.

    10 June 1997

    Dr Muriel Newman is challenged by beneficiaries to live on $140 a week in a state house.

    Taumaranui meat processing plant Paramount Export has been placed in receivership, putting 100 people out of work.

    Minister of Finance, Bill Birch, says that public fixation on Tuku Morgan and other coalition embarrassments is effecting government efforts to bolster economic confidence.

    11 June 1997

    NZES reports a delay in delivering their computer-generated end-of-month employment statistics, until the Employment Minister Peter McCardle is "confident that the statistics are accurate". The April figures were found to the inaccurate two weeks ago they had shown a slight rise in unemployment, when in fact there had been a small drop.

    Taranaki Healthcare is to shed 300 staff by the year 2000, with most of the loss intended to be through attrition. The CHE is trying to wipe its $11 billion debt and operate profitably. It will close three wards at Taranaki Base Hospital, probably change services at Stratford and Hawera hospitals and reduce the average length of stay by patients in the hospitals.

    The ACC is giving its 1,500 staff personality tests to see if they will fit into their new structure.

    12 June 1997

    Air NZ is making 396 catering staff redundant as it sells its catering unit. The redundant staff will be eligible to work for the new owner, and Air NZ is also helping staff look for work in other areas of the airline.

    An international study has found NZ children to be among the world's most bullied, and it is effecting their performance in class as the children are scared and anxious.

    Male university graduates make more than $6,000 a year more than females, five years into their careers, according to a Vice-Chancellors Committee survey.

    13 June 1997

    The United States unemployment rate falls to its lowest level in nearly 24 years, but the pace of job growth has slowed markedly.

    ECNZ is preparing its staff at the Huntly power station for major redundancies later this year. Management expects a 20% cut to the 270 workforce. The company is giving staff courses in how to prepare CVs and facing job interviews.

    The Alliance's Phillida Bunkle says that the $5.2 million that Taranaki Healthcare spent on consultancy fees for its restructuring plans could have been used to retain the 300 staff it is now trying to get rid of.

    14 June 1997

    The Labour Party challenges a NZ on Air decision to grant $300,000 of taxpayer money for a "highly political" documentary on welfare dependency. The two one-hour documentaries made by Communicado are entitled Time Bomb.

    Annette King : " The documentary will be a hatchet job on the welfare state. It will attempt to give substance to the allegations that welfare is out of control and breeding a generation of dependent beneficiaries. It is a highly political attempt to brainwash NZ'ers into believing that welfare is bad ..."

    Media Watch: A New Zealand Herald team of journalists begin a week-long critical look at the state of youth and children in NZ. Lead writer Peter Calder: "This series makes grim reading at times ...these may be other people's kids but their plight is our national shame. If they do nothing else, the stories which appear on our pages over the next week should ignite the rage of all of us on behalf of those too young and weak to fight for themselves ..."

    15 June 1997

    The Alliance council has agreed to pursue talks about a coalition deal with the Labour Party.

    In Amsterdam 50,000 Europeans gather in a protest march against the hardship brought by the European Union's quest for monetary union.

    16 June 1997

    The European Union summit in Amsterdam unveils a new strategy for tackling the European jobs crisis.

    Employment Minister Peter McCardle says that his work-for-the-dole scheme will not feature in next Thursday's Budget.

    NZ is judged to be the fourth most economically free country of 150 nations, according to the Heritage Foundation and the Wall St Journal. NZ was behind Hong Kong, Singapore and Bahrain, and well ahead of Australia which was 18th.

    17 June 1997

    The UN's latest Human Development report says that rapid technological change and globalisation are transforming the world economy at an unprecedented pace, but the benefits are going "to the rich and strong rather than the poor and weak". The report says the biggest globalisation winners have been multinational corporations, and lists the 100 largest economies in the world half of them are nation-states, and the other half are corporations.

    The UN report says that the combined wealth of the world's seven richest men could wipe out poverty and provide access to basic social services for the quarter of humanity who live in severe need. The UN puts the cost of eradicating poverty at 1% of global income. Effective debt relief for the 20 poorest countries would be even cheaper at $5.5 billion, the cost of building Disneyland near Paris.

    18 June 1997

    The South Taranaki Ammonia Urea manufacturer Petrochem is to shed 35 workers at its plant, with the remaining staff taking pay cuts.

    Green Lane Heart specialist Professor John Neutze tells the conference of the Cardiac Society of Australia and NZ that economic change has hit the health of NZ's poor very hard. He says the main causes of disease in NZ were social and political, and it follows that the solutions will also be social and political.

    In Parliament, government MP John Banks asks Employment Minister Peter McCardle: "What has happened to the solid NZ First promise pre-election that `young people will not be paid to do nothing' and that work-for-the-dole will be a priority for the next government? Or is it all just too hard?"

    Professor Brian Easton estimates the cost of alcohol and tobacco misuse in NZ at $39 billion a year. His costings include the social costs of abuse. He calls for tougher penalties on those who drink and commit crimes, and a greater liability for those who provide alcohol at social functions.

    The International Labour Organisation has asked NZ to urgently change its ACC compensation rules which presently require some accident victims to contribute to their medical care costs. The ILO convention requires that accident victims' medical treatment should be free.

    19 June 1997

    TOES 97, alternative `People's Summit' opens in Denver. It is being billed as a grassroots alternative to the official G-8 world leaders summit. It has attracted hundreds of activists from more than 20 countries and several Indian tribes.

    TOES (The Other Economic Summit) 97 can be found on their website at

    ACT deputy leader Ken Shirley says that Children and Young persons Service staff have falsified documents about the deaths of children in their care.

    The Labour Party says that rent rises for state tenants will not be covered by the increases in housing assistance, and the biggest shortfalls will occur in Auckland. About 15,000 state tenants will be paying more for their rent when the freeze ends on July 1st.

    Employment Activist Sue Bradford: "We are pleased that Winston Peters has not made workfare a priority in this year's Budget, despite McCardle's programme having been a key plank of the Coalition agreement last year.

    "Mass work-for-the-dole schemes such as the one McCardle advocates serve only to punish the unemployed, take full wage jobs away from employed workers, and to lower people's morale. Such programmes have demonstrably failed overseas, and even on this government's own figures would be more expensive to administer than the coalition agreement allowed for ..."

    20 June 1997

    The coalition government signals that its first Budget next Thursday will have much lower surpluses than previously forecast. The Budget will reveal that it has roughly halved its projected surpluses for the coming year. PM Jim Bolger blames higher social spending and lower tax receipts.

    A Commissioner for Children report to the Minister of Social Welfare suggests that Social Welfare head Margaret Bazley may be failing in her legal duty to provide enough beds for young offenders. The report says that the conditions by which 140 young people have held in police cells for up to three weeks in the last year were "completely unacceptable in a civilised society..."

    21 June 1997

    The three-day G-8 Summit of the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Britain, the US, Japan, Canada, and also Russia, begins in Denver. President Clinton hails the American economy as the "healthiest in a generation and the strongest in the world" and is urging the other leading nations to abandon old ideas and "take up the economic tools that helped America relaunch itself".

    The official G-7 Summit site is at

    23 June 1997

    Registered unemployment at NZES rose 2.4% in May to a total of 154,245 people. This is an increase of 4,325 jobseekers on the previous month, but a 8,000 fewer compared to the same time last year.

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