Essential Information on an Essential Issue
25 January, 1998
The Toronto Dollar; using a local currency to fight for local jobs
- LEC NATIONAL UNIT TO CLOSE
The National Unit of the Local Employment Co-ordination Committees (LECs) will
close at the end of March, after being restructured within the WINZ department. The committees
will now be placed under the thirteen Regional Commissioners and report directly to them.
Their activities will now be delivered through the WINZ regional structure.
LECs were first set up after recommendations from the 1994 Employment Taskforce report
which called for greater co-ordination and collaboration between local groups at a local level. There
are 42 committees throughout the country with a total of about 750 active members drawn
from different government agencies, local authorities and community groups.
National Manager Jan Francis says that providing information, advice and ideas from these
local groups to Regional Commissioners will continue to be a very important element in the
development of regional plans and initiatives. Francis: "I am confident that delivery through the
regional structure will maximise the benefits of LEC and provide great opportunities for the
development of local solutions to local problems ..."
Jan Francis and her Wellington-based assistant Simone Ferigo will stay on until the National
Unit completes its transition activities by the end of March. The former Northern Regional
Manager Brenda Radford has already left WINZ to take up a new position at the Race Relations Office.
All contracts with LEC co-ordinators will remain valid until their expiry dates (mostly in June).
Source _ letters from Jan Francis and Simone Ferigo January 1999
- ENTER THE EURO
January 1st marked the launch of the new Euro currency in Europe, and the
establishment of the European Central Bank (ECB). The Euro becomes the common currency of
Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal
and Spain. While notes and coins will not be issued until 2002, the new currency is immediately
available for electronic transactions, and cheques.
The currency is based on the combined economies of these eleven countries, totaling 290m
people or 19% share of world trade. This compares with the dollar in the USA with 267m people
and 17% of world trade.
The new central bank inherits the low-inflation targets of the previous major central
banks in the area, such as German Bundesbank. In preparation for the Euro launch, most of the
region's central banks cut their varying official interest rates to a standard 3%.
All this will have a significant effect on each individual nation's ability to enact job creation
policies. The 11 countries have jobless rates ranging from 20% (in Spain) to less than 3% (in
Luxembourg) And with a new wave of centre-left European governments seeking to spark more
job-creation initiatives ... a political struggle with the policies of the new ECB seems inevitable.
To win popular support, the ECB will have to maintain the Euro's buying power while
keeping Europe's growth-rate fast enough to make real inroads into its average 11% jobless rate.
Source _ Sunday Star Times 10 January 1999 "Euroland needs more reform than ever before" by Michael Stutchbury
- COMMUNITY WORK NUMBERS
WINZ Associate Minister Peter McCardle reports that about 80 people a day have
started Community Work projects around the country, since his scheme was introduced on October
1st. The total, just before Christmas, was 4,300 people, most of whom are long-term unemployed.
McCardle also reports that 2,100 sponsors are already taking part ... in spite of claims by
opposition parties that there would be no support for the scheme. He lists support from schools,
marae, Trusts, Councils and a wide range of social organisations including the Wellington City
Mission, the Salvation Army and many Maori groups such as Kohanga Reo. McCardle: I am pleased
that the Labour Party's attempt to drum up a boycott has failed because the people it would
have harmed are the jobseekers who need work opportunities the most ..."
As far as penalties for not taking part are concerned, McCardle reports that, in the first
two months of the scheme, 81 people had their Community Wage payment reduced or suspended.
Source _ press release from Peter McCardle 22 December 1998 "Community Work Numbers rising fast"
- SKILL SHORTAGES -- WORK WARRIORS
Skill Shortages. A fall in apprenticeships, and the flight of trained people overseas, is
being blamed for a loss of vital skills and `that famous kiwi ingenuity' needed by industry.
Industrialist Gilbert Ullrich of Ullrich Aluminium says that "workplace warriors" the do-anything
technicians who made the No.8 fencing wire famous are becoming a threatened species because
the apprenticeship system that trained them has collapsed.
Ullrich says these people are vital to the infrastructure of NZ industry, but they are being
replaced `a tidal wave' of graduates in technical subjects. But this specialised technical training has
not replaced the need for creative and adaptable workers who can turn a hand to any task.
Ullrich: "The workplace warrior was versatile, creative and imaginative ... and he was the lifeblood
- Selwyn Parker of the New Zealand Herald writes that the "workplace warrior" is a
home-grown breed of worker that sprung up somewhere in NZ's colonial past, when necessity was
the mother of invention. If an imported machine wasn't working properly but would take months
or even years to replace, these ingenious technicians jumped into the breach.
Parker: "The workplace warrior emerged from apprenticeships within industry and from
formal polytech training. Others came through military training schemes. They spent most of their
working hours around machines and developed a sixth sense for them. They could fix just about
anything, and improve imported machinery with cost-effective solutions ... Certainly, the
contribution of these people to the nation's export effort is probably underrated."
- Manufacturers say that the decline in apprenticeships and company training programmes
victims of cost cutting as manufacturing exporters struggled to survive in the face of a high
NZ dollar has left a yawning gap between higher education and the industrial workplace.
Parker reports that there are dramatically fewer apprenticeships available now than in the
mid-eighties: "They have, in part, been replaced by "training agreements" ... but the issue is
whether they meet the manufacturing sector's needs..."
- Ullrich believes that judicious government intervention is needed to give industry
sufficient incentive to take on young people as apprentices and trainees. Ullrich: "At present only those
who are philanthropic, community-minded or have a social conscience are willing to carry the
burden of eager young technicians ..."
Source _ New Zealand Herald 20 January 1999 "Industry lacks workplace warriors" by Selwyn Parker
- STATISTICS THAT MATTER: OTAKI
The OTAKI electorate contains 22,599 households, of which
56% have household incomes below $30,000 per year before tax. That 56% is 28% above the rate
for the country as a whole. There are 27,309 adults aged 20-59 in the Otaki electorate, of whom
57% are in paid, full-time work. Another 13% are in part-time work. Unemployment in the
electorate is 4% above the national average.
Localities in the Otaki electorate which have high levels of deprivation are Shannon, Levin
South, Foxton Beach, Foxton and Waitarere. The Otaki electorate ranks 19th among electorates
for poverty. ( Electorate statistics compiled by Judy Reinken, and based on 1996 Census).
Source _ Judy Reinken, statistics based on 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings
- PAREKURA EYES PARLIAMENT
The former head of the Community Employment Group, Parekura Horomia, has
been picked by the Labour Party as its candidate for the Te Tai Rawhiti electorate.
Source _ nga korero o te wa December 1998
- WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HIKOI?
The Anglican Church is still smarting after the pre-Christmas media fall-out from the
church leader's meeting with PM Jenny Shipley and WINZ Minister Roger Sowry to discuss
issues arising from the October Hikoi of Hope. The Hikoi delegation is deeply disappointed by
the manner in which the PM and Mr Sowry have misrepresented the discussions that took place
at their meeting. Despite the fact that discussions at the meeting focussed almost entirely on
eliminating poverty, the church leaders say that the PM and Mr Sowry have "quite falsely"
promoted the view that the agenda was to promote Maori separatism.
- The Hikoi delegation presented two papers. One was by Charles Waldegrave
summarising Hikoi demands for the creation of real jobs, a health service people can trust, affordable
housing, benefit and wage levels which will lift people out of poverty and affordable and accessible
education. The other paper was by Professor Whatarangi Winiata and entitled "Reducing the
Socioeconomic Disparities in Housing, Employment and Education: A Maori Solution". It proposed
"constitutional change to provide for two cultures' development and partnership" and giving
Maori control of the 20% of state spending spent on them.
At the meeting, according to the church leaders, PM Shipley focussed on the Winiata
proposal rather than address the wider Hikoi concerns about poverty and social justice. She later
told parliament that the government "does not support a separate Maori nation, a separate
Maori parliament, a separate Maori law-making process, or a separate tax-based funding
allocation system as was presented to us by church leaders ..."
- Charles Waldegrave, of the Anglican Family Centre in the Hutt Valley, says: "It has
become quite clear that the fundamental agenda of the Hikoi of Hope, that of acknowledging and
eliminating poverty, is really quite embarrassing to the government. Instead of seriously considering
the concerns and suggested policy changes put forward by church leaders , they sought to
detract attention from the issues of poverty by painting the church leaders as naive and promoters
of Maori separatism. This has stunned the church leaders, who attended in good faith and expected
a respectful hearing and an accurate report of the discussion on both sides..."
Waldegrave says his paper presented clear policies that could be implemented quickly:
"it was not a simple `wish-list'. It included policies that could fit easily into the government's
current framework like value-added, hi-tech strategies, innovative product and market development
with an emphasis on new abilities, skills and professional development by management and staff. It
also recommended policy changes in housing to make it more affordable, and in health to make it
"The church delegation is deeply disappointed by the misrepresentation of the meeting. They
are acutely aware that the price of government failing to act against the growing levels of
poverty immediately, will continue to be paid by the low income households of New Zealand ..."
Source _ Nga Korero o te wa 30 December 1998, Evening Post 4 January 1999 "Hikoi was all about poverty, not
separatism' by Charles Waldegrave
- MANAWATU JOBS SUMMIT
A Palmerston North Employment Summit will be held at the PN
City Council Chambers on 30 March. Entitled "Employment What Can We Do?", the
conference features keynote speakers from around NZ who have been active in successful
employment initiatives. For more information contact Ian Ritchie at 06-350-6301 or
Source _ flyer from Ian Ritchie
- THE MEANING OF MONEY
"Money! from Madness to Meaning" is the tile of a seminar being
held in Wellington on 20 March, and is convened by the Sustainable Futures Trust. The
speakers include Alan Fricker, Roland Sapsford, Prue Hyman, Bruce Dyer and Deirdre Kent, who will
look at the conventional money system and the possible impact of complementary local currencies
in working for social and environmental justice. The conference is being held at the Connolly
Hall, Hill St. For more information contact Alan Fricker 04-589-1575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Source _ email flyer from Alan Fricker
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