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    Letter No.69
    28 November, 1997

    1 November 1997

    More than 100 jobs are to be stripped from Northland's already struggling clothing industry, with company closures at the Bendon lingerie factory in Whangarei and Calman Manufacturing in Dargaville.

    Tourism spending in NZ has slumped a massive 14% compared with last year.

    Former National finance minister Ruth Richardson has joined the Act party.

    2 November 1997

    The number of job advertisements has fallen by 6.5% according to the survey of job ads by the ANZ bank.

    3 November 1997

    PM Jim Bolger agrees to stand down as PM next month, after a leadership coup led by Transport Minister Jenny Shipley. Mrs Shipley is poised to become NZ's first woman Prime Minister.
    Alliance MP Phillida Bunkle claims that eighteen Crown Health Enterprises are bankrupt.

    5 November 1997

    Levi Strauss the world's largest brand-name apparel manufacturer is closing 11 American plants and will lay off 6,400 workers.

    About 100 Hamilton City Council staff could lose their jobs because of an impasse in contract negotiations. The Council CEO Tony Marryatt looks set to make good his threat to contract out the work if staff do not accept new employment conditions.

    6 November 1997

    Official Unemployment figures are released. See special report in this issue.

    The Business Roundtable is urging government to abolish all statutory minimum wage orders in the upcoming review. The Roundtable says that, pending such action, the minimum wage should be reduced to the level of the age-equivalent single person's unemployment benefit. The roundtable argues that the overall effect of minimum wage regulations is "unambiguously" harmful, reducing employment for young and unskilled workers with no appreciable drop in the number of families or individuals living below the poverty line.

    7 November 1997

    Maori Affairs Minister Tau Henare says that the government seeds to adopt a radical approach to tackle rising Maori unemployment, describing the latest rise in figures as "shocking and disgusting". Henare: "We've failed miserably in terms of Maori unemployment, and we've got two years left, and we really have to try and do something radical ..."

    About 130 jobs are expected to be lost as part of the merger between the Agriculture and Forestry Ministries. The redundancies will not be confirmed until next February.

    8 November 1997

    The Alliance reveals that only 14% of students on a special NZES pilot Maori youth scheme got full-time jobs at the end of it. A further 7% got part-time work, and 6% were placed on other work schemes. Deputy leader Sandra Lee criticises the government on its record on Maori unemployment and says it is hiding behind "shambolic schemes" such as the youth pilot.

    9 November 1997

    PM-elect Jenny Shipley has tipped an overhaul of the welfare system that will divide beneficiaries into those ready for work and those exempt from it. In an interview with Sunday Star-Times, Mrs Shipley says she has no regrets over the 1991 benefit cuts because they restored incentives to work. She proposes that future benefits be classified as simply "work-ready" or "non-work-ready".

    10 November 1997

    Labour Minister Max Bradford unveils a series of cash-for-holidays proposals, which include enabling workers to trade one week's annual leave and all their public holidays for cash payments from employers.

    12 November 1997

    The NZ Fire Service confirms that 97 management and administrative jobs will be lost in new restructuring measures, but that frontline positions will not be affected.

    13 November 1997

    Thousands of Housing NZ tenants in Auckland are set for rent falls as the coalition government demands a stronger social mandate from the company. About a third of the tenants will see their rents drop $5-$10 on their next review. `

    The Alliance releases NZES papers which show the government's plan to halve Maori unemployment, which is curiously described as a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal". Deputy leader Sandra Lee is unimpressed: " makes a mockery of Maori who are unemployed."

    14 November 1997

    More branch closures and job losses loom for WestpacTrust staff despite the merged bank making a near-record profit for a bank of $333m for the Sept year. The bank says that another 50 branches will close, and that only 65% of the 4,500 jobs in branches were guaranteed.

    A population conference in Wellington is told that the government should urgently address the plight of Maori now aged 25-44 years. Professors Ian Pool and Richard Bedford, of the Population Studies Centre at Waikato University, say this group was one of the most battered by the 1980s economic reforms, and unless something was done many would reach old age from 2020 without owning houses and with little job experience.
    Professor Pool also said that NZ's "punitive" student loan scheme will not help keep skilled people here and should be revised. He says that in order to keep the economy growing in the first half of next century "every young adult male or female will be needed both as workers and parents" ... also requiring improved childcare support systems.

    15 November 1997

    About 600 staff of the collapsed Levene retailer have been placed on week-to-week contracts. The Levene receiver has confirmed that if the firm finally folds, each of the staff will be only entitled to a maximum of $6,000 in wage, holiday and redundancy payments.

    17 November 1997

    IBM the world's largest computer company will lay off hundreds of its US workers, effective on January 1st.

    18 November 1997

    Employment Minister Peter McCardle welcomes the re-affirmation of support from Coalition leaders Winston Peters and Jenny Shipley for completing the detail of the government's employment strategy. The overall strategy will include regional control of resources, major reforms to the unemployment benefit and a one-stop shop reform of agencies.
    Expect announcements: before Christmas.

    19 November 1997

    The number of people registered with the NZ Employment Service in October was 170,120.
    The NZES register is an administrative record of unemployed clients assisted by the Employment service and is not the official measure of unemployment. The official measure of unemployment is the quarterly Household Labour Force survey produced by Statistics NZ.

    20 November 1997

    Textile, clothing and footwear manufacturers accuse government officials of a "religious" commitment to lower tariffs, and have started a campaign to stop further cuts until 2005. The three industries are urging government to wait till other countries catch up to NZ's open economy and low-tariff regime, before moving further.

    The Abortion Supervisory Committee reports that there is one abortion for every four births in NZ.

    21 November 1997

    The EU Jobs Summit begins in Luxembourg.

    One-tenth of Europe's active population is out of a job a level unchanged since 1993. Among under-25s, the unemployment rate is twice that. Half of all unemployed have been out of a job for more than 12 months.

    The Ngai Tahu deed of settlement is signed at the Takahanga marae in Kaikoura ending seven generations of grievance between South Island Maori and the Crown.

    23 November 1997

    Eastman Kodak the world's largest photographic company has announced plans to slash 10,000 jobs, or 10.5% of its worldwide workforce.

    24 November 1997

    More than 6,000 abused and neglected children were in enough danger to require state intervention by NZ authorities in the past year, according to the Children and Young Persons Service. In it's first-time tally of cases of ill-treatment, the Service says it is finding 17 abused and neglected children each day.

    25 November 1997

    The NZ sharemarket drops sharply after more sharemarket falls around the world fed by the collapse of Japanese banks.

    The Labour party wants to give workers more holidays, by bringing NZ into line with Australia and Europe by increasing the minimum annual leave entitlement from three weeks to four weeks. The Employers Federation opposes the move, saying it will cost them about $850m a year.

    The APEC summit of Pacific Rim leaders begins in Vancouver, dominated by the Asian economic crisis.

    26 November 1997

    One in five NZ adults cannot read effectively, according to a major international adult literacy study. The adults have trouble reading a bus timetable, understanding the instructions on a medicine bottle, or filling in a job application. The survey also shows most Maori and Pacific Islanders are below a level of literacy needed to meet the demands of everyday life.

    Average total hourly earnings have risen by 3.8% in the year to August 1997, with rises in Auckland outstripping other regions.

    The Education Forum calls for the Qualifications Authority to be broken up and qualifications re-designed. It recommends that school, vocational and advanced qualifications be handled by separate boards, saying that it was a mistake to hand these responsibilities to a single powerful body.

    27 November 1997

    Wellington's Student Job Search is putting out a call for more employers. It says its job placements are down 40% compared with last year.

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