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    Letter No.77
    27 April, 1998

    9 April 1998

    The Manufacturers' Federation president David Moloney says NZ should not be heading the charge to reduce tariffs. He says there is no advantage for us to be rushing into reductions, and suggests that the NZ tariff reduction schedules should be in line with our APEC trading partners.

    As Japanese businesses layoff staff, executives who are embarrassed by their unemployment can subscribe to a service which gives the impression they are working. The service appears to be their secretary, makes excuses for why they are not in their office and forwards messages to the unemployed client.

    12 April 1998

    FinSec, the financial sector union releases a booklet encouraging communities to oppose bank branch closures. BNZ, ANZ/Postbank, Westpac & Trustbank and National have closed 541 branches over the past five years. Contrary to this trend is the ASB which has opened four new branches and has employed 700 more staff.

    13 April 1998

    The manager of the H & J Smith department store, Acton Smith, has asked his 400 staff to take a one-hour per week pay cut. The store is budgeting for a difficult winter season.

    14 April 1998

    More than 100 social scientists have signed a letter to MPs denouncing the government's proposed Code of Social Responsibility discussion document as using shoddy and biased methods.

    Social Welfare benefit crime manager Joan McQuay says her team receives more than 670 calls and letters each week from people dobbing in others they suspect of benefit fraud.

    Social Welfare announces only eighteen people have had their benefits reduced because they did not meet work tests during the first year of the programme. 29,700 people were subject to the work tests over the same period.

    15 April 1998

    The OECD expects Indonesia's economy to shrink by 8.5% this year and inflation to hit 35%. Both these figures are double the IMF and Indonesian government assessments.

    Honda NZ announces it will stop making cars in Nelson in September this year. This follows the government's decision to bring forward the tariff reduction programme for car manufacturers by two years. All six main car assemblers have now either closed or will close by the end of the year.

    16 April 1998

    The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union estimates 20,000 jobs will be lost with the demise of the automotive assembly industry in NZ.

    Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister of Australia criticises NZ's economic reforms. While praising NZ's low inflation and unemployment rate, Fraser says continual rise in balance of payment deficits, high interest rates and the dollar collapsing 20% is creating an economic disaster in NZ. Fraser: "The reforms have not produced a country that pays its own way"

    17 April 1998

    Treasurer Winstone Peters indicates he will make a u-turn on the recent fast tracking of tariff reductions, stating they should be kept in line with Australia and Japan, NZ's largest trading partners.

    Fifty jobs are being created by the Sealords Group, based in Nelson, as the company goes into a joint partnership with a Norwegian investment and fishing management company.

    18 April 1998

    NZES general manager Tony Gavin and Mark Blumsky, mayor of Wellington sign an "agreement of understanding" that contractors building the new Westpac Trust Stadium use as many people registered with NZES as possible.

    Indonesian security forces have been told by President Suharto to use "repressive measures" on protesting students. The students are calling for economic and political reforms and for Suharto to stand down. Suharto: "Some members of society are impatient and didn't know how to handle themselves in the current economic and monetary crisis"

    All student allowance inquiries will be handled from call centre in Palmerston North, from October, employing ninety staff. Student groups are concerned that they will have only a phone to refer to if problems arise with their allowances.

    19 April 1998

    NZ's exports to Japan have declined 19% in the year to February 1998.

    The European Commission reports that the black market, or alternative economy, in Europe employs up to 28 million people and is in economic terms is roughly on the scale of Britain's GDP.

    US workers averaged 3.8% pay increase last year while the average US chief executive averaged a 35% rise in salary.

    20 April 1998

    Business Roundtable chairman Doug Myers says local governments are dragging their feet on privitisation and that central government should force councils to sell their interests in utilities such as water, power and sewerage and use the proceeds to pay off debt and reduce rates.

    Social Welfare minister Roger Sowry denies the May 14 budget will incorporate some of the get-tough measures implied in the Code of Social Responsibility discussion document. Sowry: "No decision in the budget will pre-empt the responses to the code."

    The Summit of Americas, attended by the leaders of 34 western hemisphere countries, pledges to create the world's largest free trade zone.

    21 April 1998

    Leaders from about sixty NZ unions meet in Wellington and pledge full support to the Maritime Workers of Australia. While a sympathetic strike would be illegal, CTU president Ken Douglas promises "creative industrial action".

    Australia's dollar drops nearly a cent today as the country's current account deficit is tipped to be 6% of its gdp next year.

    22 April 1998

    Employment Minister Peter McCardle unveils the community wage scheme that replaces the unemployment benefit.

    The Institute of Economic Research's latest business opinion survey finds that business confidence is at a seven year low. Sales in NZ have fallen steadily across all sectors and are expected to decline again over the next three months.

    Wellington Disabilities Resource Centre closes its doors after funding cuts from the Lottery Grants Board. The centre, which services 4,000 people a year, budgeted on 25% funding support from Lotteries but was given 10%.

    A Nelson public meeting is told that a new prison in Nelson could provide an extra 100 jobs, and largely fill the gap in the local economy left by the closure of the Honda car plant.

    Social Welfare minister Roger Sowry extends the deadline for the Code of Responsibility responses by two weeks. Media reports suggest the response rate has been considerably less than expected.

    Cabinet tells ministers Bill Birch and Don McKinnon traveling to Paris for talks on MAI to support a "pause" in negotiation on the treaty.

    23 April 1998

    Four hundred workers, mostly women, will lose their jobs as South Auckland automotive wiring plant Yasaki announces plans to shut down in November. Manager Phil Stead says the closure of the Mangere factory was direct result of the government's decision to abolish tariffs on car imports.

    Income Support Service spokesperson Ann Dostine confirms a campaign against benefit crime would go ahead next month. The service already receives nearly 100 tips about alleged benefit fraud every day, and successfully prosecuted 181 people during the last twelve months.

    The Jobs Research Website is updated. The new features include our "Hotlinks" directory of useful internet sites on employment and training, and our popular "Statistics That Matter" feature on employment and unemployment in NZ.

    Check it out at

    24 April 1998

    Fletcher Challenge Forests is shedding 30 staff in a restructuring of its operations "to put itself in a better position to meet the challenges and opportunities created by the Asian economic crisis."

    25 April 1998

    Anzac Day.

    Alliance leader Jim Anderton uses Anzac Day to highlight the unemployment situation: "We have a new war on our hands. It's a war against poverty and unemployment. And we're losing it "

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