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    Letter No.70
    22 December, 1997

    28 November 1997

    The "Work, Families and the State" conference opens at Massey University in Palmerston North. The conference brings together academics, researchers and workers in the state and voluntary sectors to discuss the changing relationships between paid and unpaid work.

    Alliance leader Jim Anderton calls on the government to freeze motor vehicle tariffs at the year 2000 level of 15% for five years, to ensure that the industry doesn't close. Anderton: "This would match the recent policy decision of the Australian government and match our trade liberalisation to that of our trading partners..."

    29 November 1997

    About 140 Christchurch ANZ Bank workers will lose their jobs in February after the bank announces it will close its South Island support centre.

    In Sydney, ANZ Managing Director John McFarlane says that up to 4,000 ANZ staff could be sacked in the next two years.

    30 November 1997

    Alliance leader Jim Anderton begins a national campaign against the government's proposal to sign the Multilateral Agreement on Investment.

    In Germany, university students have taken to the streets in the biggest wave of strikes and demonstrations for three decades to protest the deteriorating quality of their education.

    Former Samoan rugby star Peter Fatialofa is working part-time for NZES as part of their Tama Tane Ole Pasefika programme aimed at unemployed Pacific Island people over the age of 35.

    1 December 1997

    Hutt City Mayor John Terris blasts the Christian Council of Social Services for its opposition to the Community Taskforce work scheme. Terris: "It is small wonder that church attendance is on the decline when the gospel of hope is swept aside by the very people charged with the task of promoting it, in favour of looney-left ideas which condemn worthwhile initiatives like the Community Taskforce..."

    Consumer Affairs Minister Robyn McDonald calls for a combined effort from government, community groups, retailers and consumers to solve the problem of people getting into financial difficulties through easy access to credit. A recent Citizens Advice Bureau report says that easy access to credit and retail store cards is deepening a poverty trap for many low-income people.

    2 December 1997

    Overseas Trade Minister Lockwood Smith salutes NZ's efforts at the recent APEC conference which saw the adoption of NZ proposals to speed up the liberalisation of two of our key export sectors, fishing and forestry. Smith: "The removal of tariffs and other trade barriers will open up new export opportunities which will in turn create new jobs." Present exports to the APEC region are worth $3 billion.

    4 December 1997

    A convoy of 50 Taranaki farmers on tractors drives into parliament to protest at the government's Maori reserved land reforms. Parliament passes a Bill 112-8 "righting an injustice" against Maori who for years have been unable to get fair market rentals for their land. The protesting farmers say that their compensation package is $32m short.

    5 December 1997

    The coalition government is one year old.

    ACC Minister Jenny Shipley announces a massive hike in ACC premiums in a move to make ACC a fully-funded scheme able to face competition. Workers' premiums rise a massive 70%, and employers drop by 10%. Shipley's critics describe the moves as "back-door privatisation" by gradual de-regulation.

    The NZ Business Roundtable is soon to get its first full female member in Mobil managing director Lesley Mason.

    6 December 1997

    PM-designate Jenny Shipley reshuffles her cabinet. Attorney-General Paul East is dumped, and most of her backers rise in cabinet rankings. Former Employment Minister Wyatt Creech is promoted to No.3.

    Eva Rickard 1925 - 1997

    Veteran Maori activist who fought for the return of ancestral land at Raglan. When the land was returned it became a focus for local job-training and employment programmes, as well as a focus for the Maori sovereignty movement..

    7 December 1997

    Malborough and Blenheim farmers are facing one of the biggest droughts in the region for 50 years.

    International company Singer plans to close factories world-wide, laying off about 6,000 workers or 28% of its staff.

    8 December 1997

    Barry Curtis, the Mayor of Manukau, says that government plans to corporatise roads and the likely introduction of more charges for motorists will have a "huge social impact" that officials have not considered.

    Manpower, the giant international recruitment company, is about to make a big push into the NZ information technology market, opening offices in Auckland and Wellington this month for its subsidiary Manpower Technical.

    A welfare beneficiary asking for a special needs grant to buy food was told by Income Support to go and ask her bank for an overdraft instead, according to the Beneficiaries Advocacy and Protection Society.

    9 December 1997

    Manawatu Beef Packers, the AFFCO meat plant in Feilding, is to take on 110 staff as their production lifts by 20% this season.

    NZ'ers are becoming numerically inept because of a shortage of mathematics teachers, according to professor Ivan Reilly of Auckland University.

    The Auckland City Mission has started a billboard and advertising campaign aimed at jolting the community into giving to poor families this Christmas. The posters show an image of the Virgin Mary cradling empty arms ... with the message "Christmas is missing for thousands of low-income families".

    10 December 1997

    Inland Revenue reports that the hidden or "black" economy in NZ equals about 8.8% of measured GDP and in 1994 amounted to a loss of between $2-2.5 billion in taxes to the government. The black economy covers everything from burglary and drug dealing to backyard mechanics and cash-only builders.

    11 December 1997

    Hundreds of jobs are set to go at Auckland University after multi-million dollar cuts in Government funding. It has sent out two thousand letters asking staff to consider voluntary redundancy.

    12 December 1997

    More than one in every four publicly listed and foreign-owned companies in NZ pay no tax, according to Inland Revenue.

    Valuation NZ is to axe 52 jobs as part of a restructuring to prepare it for competition.

    13 December 1997

    Only five of the 28 Levene stores are still trading in the lead-up to Christmas. Twenty stores have been closed by the receiver and more than 200 staff have lost their jobs.

    Television NZ is restructuring and says it will have to cut 71 jobs by Christmas.

    Internal Affairs is closing down its national chain of Link Centres on Christmas Eve, with the loss of 25 jobs. Thirty other staff are being offered new positions within the department.

    14 December 1997

    NZ will open its doors to an expected 45,000 new immigrants next year, after a 1995 clampdown that saw immigrant numbers fall and associated investments plummet.

    The Auckland University says that poor students will be locked into a cycle of educational deprivation and fewer Maori and Pacific Islanders will pursue tertiary studies if the government proceeds with options to revamp tertiary education. In its submission on a ministerial review about the future of tertiary education, Auckland University predicts that poor students will be unable to finish their degrees, as higher fees will reduce participation.

    15 December 1997

    AFFCO has mothballed its Waitara meat plant, with the loss of 150 jobs. It has also deferred opening its Taumaranui plant until at least mid-January.

    John Tamihere, urban Maori leader and Chief Executive of Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust, is named New Zealander of the Year by North & South Magazine.

    North & South : "His pragmatism, vision and toil have carved a path towards a better life for young urban Maori..." Te Whanau o Waipareira is the largest provider of employment and training programmes in West Auckland. It also manages or helps to run health clinics, schools, kindergartens, security companies, accounting services, investment properties, rehabilitation centres for released prisoners and homes for wayward children.

    16 December 1997

    Tainui tribal representatives are negotiating to buy about $80m worth of mortgages from the Housing Corporation.

    Student Job Centres in all areas are reporting a drop in job offers which will seriously effect the ability of students to earn during summer jobs and pay for next year's tertiary fees. In Wellington, placements were down 379 on last year, in Christchurch down 200, and in Auckland down 1,100.

    17 December 1997

    Roger Sowry and Peter McCardle formally announce the merger of Income Support and the Employment Service as the first part of its "full employment programme".

    Labour's Steve Maharey describes the proposals as a "re-announcement". Maharey: "None of this is new, but it is late. It will be more than a year before any of these proposals are up and running..."

    Tasman Milk Products has laid off 60 staff with the closure of its dairy factory at Brightwater, near Nelson.

    Carter Holt Harvey is laying off 68 staff with the closure of its corrugated cardboard plant in Hastings.

    Webbs Industrial Group in the Waikato has laid off 19 full-time jobs with the liquidation of the group.

    The government has agreed to a two-year trial period to allow Parliament to have a say on the content of international treaties. Many parties have been campaigning for a more open approach to treaty negotiations, particularly with the signing of the upcoming Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). NZ signs about 40 international treaties a year, and the new policy only applies to multi-lateral agreements (about 10 a year).

    The National Bank finds that business confidence has withered in December as the Asian economic crisis deepens.

    The Reserve Bank warns that the kiwi dollar will fall and interest rates will rise because of the ballooning external deficit.

    18 December 1997

    Car manufacturers say that their plants are likely to close with the loss of up to 1500 jobs after government announcements that tariffs will be scrapped in the year 2000. Another 4,300 jobs in car component industries are at risk. The four motor vehicle assembly plants affected: are at Wiri (Nissan, 230 workers), Thames (Toyota, 330 workers), Nelson (Honda, 220 workers) and Porirua (Mitsubishi, 360 workers)

    The government outlines a radical overhaul of the PAYE system in efforts to reduce the compliance costs faced by employers.

    19 December 1997

    Eighty-five workers finish work at the Golden Cross mine in Waihi after the mine's closure.

    Hills Headwear, a Wellington hat-making company has gone into receivership. It had 80 staff members in April this year, but has since wound down to 30. More redundancies will be announced soon.

    Wellington City Council library staff have been told the number of full-time jobs in the libraries will be cut from 150 to 117.

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