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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.69

    28 November, 1997

    Poverty or Dependancy. Major Cambell Roberts, national director of the Salvation Army's Social Services looks at our social problems.
    Also : Alarming Statistics ...trends in the health of New Zealand Society.

    Official unemployment figures released earlier this month show unemployment at 6.8% at the end of September. This is a slight (0.1%) rise on the previous quarter, and indicates a slow but steady wind-down in economic activity.

    Job growth is strongest in business and financial services, but this is largely offset by falls in manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing. Of most concern is the sharp rise in the Maori unemployment rate to 18.2% compared with 15.9% a year ago.

    We include our regular Statistics That Matter feature in this issue of The Jobs Letter.

    Source Statistics from StatisticsNZ

    Since 1995, the Inland Revenue Department has made 550 staff redundant. One side effect is that there is not always someone there to answer the phones. Official figures released in parliament show that of the 164,111 phonecalls to the department in October, 54,658 of them went unanswered with the callers hanging up before they got to speak to anyone. Perhaps the IRD should ring the NZES?
    Source The Dominion 19 November 1997 "IRD's phones ring on and on"
    The first five of the expected 50 Community Broker Organisations (CBOs) are up and running, with many more expected to be announced before Christmas. The CBOs are mainly community organisations contracted throughout the country to "broker" the Community Taskforce work scheme which aims to place long-term unemployed in community-based work experience opportunities.

    The five approved organisations so far include the Tauranga Employment Trust, the Hawkes Bay Volunteer Centres' Trust, the Hawkes Bay Community Trust, Sport Auckland and South Seas Training and Development Institute.

    Employment Minister Peter McCardle says these organisations were picked because they have well-established links within their communities, and "... links especially with job seeker groups who may have become alienated from mainstream sources of employment assistance." McCardle says he is acutely aware of the extra strengths that many community organisations have in assisting unemployed job seekers, and the CBO initiative is aimed at capturing that strength.

    McCardle: "Keeping unemployed people active in their communities is one of the most exciting aspects of the Government's employment strategy, and something I am totally committed to. Our unemployed will benefit with new skills, and the pride in knowing they are helping to make their communities a better place while they look for work, and their communities will benefit from the many worthwhile projects that will be completed..."

    Source press statement from Hon Peter McCardle 18 November 1997 "Community Broker Organisations Up and Running"

    Sue Bradford of the Auckland Unemployed Workers Rights Centre is hoping that community organisations will take a firmer stand against work-for-the-dole schemes and workfare. Bradford: "This is an opportunity for all not-for-profit groups in NZ to show that we won't be sucked in by either bribes or trickery into taking an untenable position which not only exploits unemployed people but also undermines the wages and conditions of all employed workers ..."

    Sue Bradford says she is hearing a common argument from community organisations thinking of becoming CBOs is that they will be able to negotiate with their local Department of Labour to ensure that participation on the programme will be voluntary.

    Bradford: "The AUWRC believes community groups should not become CBOs because it is a compulsory scheme, even if some unemployed people volunteer to go on to it. We don't believe that NZES will accept a negotiating position that doesn't contain the element of compulsion. The whole thrust of the Coalition's strategy on unemployment is to widen compulsory work for the dole. The current expansion of Community Taskforce is the first step towards their stated goal of having all unemployed people on compulsory work or training ..."

    Source Mean Times Vol 8 Issue 4 November 1997 "Community Asked to make Workfare happen" and conversations with Sue Bradford in Taranaki during public meeting 13 November 1997

    The NZ Council of Christian Social Services recognises that the success of community employment programmes partly rests on the support of church and community organisations. The NZCCSS therefore believes that it has a responsibility to ensure that employment policies are effective and fair. It has commissioned a report into the available research and literature on workfare.

    The report finds that workfare programmes can increase participation in work and work-related activity, but also finds there is little evidence to suggest that workfare leads to reductions in welfare receipt or expenditure.

    NZCCSS: "The availability of jobs is the single most important factor in determining the number of people on welfare ... There is little research to support the assumption that welfare dependency is the problem. Rather, research suggests that poverty and lack of opportunity are the real problems to be addressed..."

    The NZCCSS says it is not convinced that workfare will prove to be an effective or fair response to unemployment and the social and economic costs associated with it. It's recommendation to other community organisations and prospective CBOs: do not to support or participate in an employment strategy which does not meet certain minimum standards.

    It has developed a code of minimum standards based "...on our research into effective employment policies and our belief in the basic dignity and worth of all people." The Jobs Letter includes this code of minimum standards as a special feature in this issue.

    Copies of the NZCCSS report "Workfare a discussion paper" are available from NZCCSS, P.O.Box 1937, Wellington phone 04-473-2627 fax 04-473-2624 email

    Source "Workfare a discussion paper" prepared for NZCCSS by Karen Adams, Research and Information Officer of NZCCSS, October 1997. NZCCSS, P.O.Box 1937, Wellington phone 04-473-2627 fax 04-473-2624 email

    Internet bookmark. The NZ Employment Service has launched its website at . It has information on how to get a job and the NZES services offered to employers. Businesses can list their job vacancies on the site, and there are also links to the Immigration Service, the Careers Service and other government websites.
    Source Employment update Spring 1997 published by NZES

    NZ Employers can now stipulate over the internet the type of employee they want and be told the moment a likely prospect is available. A similar service is also available for job seekers. NBR Placement Plus can be found at and is operated by the Opal and Lampen groups. The free service makes use of new software technology to do a daily search through thousands of prospective candidate and job listings. It then emails appropriate listings directly to executives seeking either an employee or a new job.
    Source National Business Review 14 November 1997 "Job hunt easier for all"
    The Second National Conference on the Universal Basic Income (UBI) is to be held 26-28 March 1998 at the St Johns Conference Centre in Wellington. The UBI proposal is for an unconditional cash payment to individuals sufficient to meet their basic needs. The conference keynote speaker will be Sally Lerner from Canada. She is a professor at the Department of Environment and resource Studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, and is a convener of the Futurework internet discussion list, which, since 1993, has been fostering public discussion on the social, economic, political and educational implications of the changing nature of work (see article in Jobs Letter No.54 )
    Source UBI newsletter November 1997, edited by Ian Ritchie.

    The European Union has pledged a fresh start for many of Europe's 18 million unemployed. In the first EU summit in Luxembourg dealing exclusively with the unemployment issue, the EU presidents and prime ministers have agreed to a five-year plan guaranteeing jobs and training opportunities for the out-of-work.

    The main elements agreed:
    -- each government will, within five years, guarantee to provide a job, training place or other activity to every unemployed person before they have been out of work for 12 months - or six months in the case of the young unemployed.
    -- a commitment to increase the proportion of unemployed people receiving training to 20 per cent, twice the current average.
    -- agreement to increase the availability of investment capital for new businesses, to cut red tape and lower taxes which discourage employment.
    -- each member-state will prepare a national action plan detailing how unemployment can be reduced. The effectiveness of these will be assessed at the Vienna summit in twelve months time.

    The EU leaders agreed that individual member states would retain responsibility for employment policy, but an element of peer pressure would be introduced to ensure schemes were being monitored at a Europe-wide level.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomes the deal as a way of bridging traditional divides between old-style state intervention and deregulated, laissez-faire economics. Blair: "There is a third way... and this summit sets a new direction for the way we tackle competitiveness and employment issues in Europe. This direction is very much investing in people, in small businesses, in skills and technology, rather than costs and burdens on employers..."

    Sources Sydney Morning Herald 24 November, 1997 "Failure on jobs casts doubt on single currency" by Geoff Kitney in Berlin; Reuters 22 November 1997 "EU Heads Pledge New Start for Young Jobless" By Ian Geoghegan; Source 21 November 1997 "EU Leaders Promise Jobs" by Paul Ames of The Associated Press; Irish Times 22 November, 1997 "Creating Jobs For Europe"

    The EU has also started its special programme of loans to member countries for specific job creation projects. The loans are being made through the European Investment Bank (EIB) the EU's development bank and the world's largest multi-lateral lender and borrower and are focussing on health, education and the urban environment sectors because of the large numbers of people they employ.

    The EIB bank will lend Holland 45m Ecus (the new EU currency unit) for job creation projects in the health and education sector. Spain gets 196m Ecus for its university campus projects. French and Belgian projects are expected to be announced soon. The bank will also set aside one billion Ecus over three years to back riskier lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. It is also setting up a special 125m Ecu European Technology Fund.

    Source Reuters News Service 14 November 1997 "EIB announces first EU Jobs Summit loans"

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