Return to Jobsletter Home

To the last Jobs Letter

To the next Jobs Letter

To this Letters Diary

To this Letters Features

To the Index







    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.93

    25 January, 1998

    The Toronto Dollar; using a local currency to fight for local jobs

    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

    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

    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. 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 of production..."

  • 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

    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

    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

    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.
    hiklogo.gif - 8151 Bytes

  • 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 more accessible..."

    "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

    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 email
    Source _ flyer from Ian Ritchie

    "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
    Source _ email flyer from Alan Fricker

    To the Top
    Top of Page
    This Letter's Main Page
    Stats | Subscribe | Index |
    The Jobs Letter Home Page | The Website Home Page
    The Jobs Research Trust -- a not-for-profit Charitable Trust
    constituted in 1994
    We publish The Jobs Letter