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    Letter No.101
    18 June, 1999

    24 May 1999

    Work Track, a three-week course for recently unemployed people, is being piloted by WINZ. The course, designed to build motivation and job seeking skills, is being trialed in one WINZ service centre in each region. Work Track incorporates elements of GAIN, a reportedly successful programme run in California.

    Internal Affairs is offering a community development resource manual that contains a comprehensive tool kit for community workers. The kit contains a number of sample letters, deeds of trust and other forms. It also includes guidance on topics including: community development principles and processes, how to develop a community organisation, legal structures, management systems, employment processes, recruiting and employing paid workers, contributions of unpaid workers, effective meetings, and maintaining the organisation and financial management. The kit can be downloaded from:

    The recent Budget included an additional $157,000 for the Employment Tribunal to employ a new adjudicator. The new staff will service the central North Island (Hawke's Bay, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wanganui) where the waiting lists for adjudication are longest.

    25 May 1999

    The largest employer in Otaki, the Richmond beef plant, is closing its doors and giving one month's notice to its 91 staff.

    26 May 1999

    NZ's trade deficit is greater now than it has been for the last 14 years. According to Statistics NZ, imports have risen 6.8% since April 1998 while exports have risen only 0.7% over the same period. NZ imported $1.3 billion more than it exported.

    27 May 1999

    The leading OECD nations are shying away from tariff reductions. Meat NZ chief executive Neil Taylor says OECD member governments have increased farm subsidies by 6% last year. Taylor: "We are leading the world in trade reforms, but unfortunately the rest of the world is not following."

    As Kaipara District Council awards its waste management contract to an Auckland firm, 25 local jobs are expected to be lost.

    28 May 1999

    The Salvation Army makes a decision to provide cups of soup and pottles of yogurt to children without lunches in Christchurch primary schools. Salvation Army spokesperson Bob Miller says there is little doubt poverty is increasing as there has been a 40% rise in the number of families using the church's food bank.

    29 May 1999

    Parliament's social services subcommittee receives a submission from Christchurch Polytech that the transfer of the student loan scheme to WINZ will cause major problems for students and disruption to enrolments. Polytech registrar Joanne Milne tells the committee that tertiary institutions have little confidence in WINZ's ability to manage the transition of student loan processing. A spokesperson for Social Services Minister Roger Sowry says the systems and processes now in place for the student allowance scheme will help WINZ cope with the handover of the student loan scheme.

    30 May 1999

    There are fewer people on employment training schemes now than there were a year ago. Labour's Steve Maharey says there are 9,833 people on schemes at the moment, 3,500 less than last year.

    31 May 1999

    Huntly sickness beneficiary Pauline Williams offers one of her kidneys for sale to cover her debts. Williams gets $194 per week and spends $110 just for rent. Williams says that since she's been sick and on a hospital waiting list, she has no way to clear her credit card of over $2,000 and is offering to sell the organ to pay her bills.

    1 June 1999

    Medical and dental students march in Dunedin in protest of the interest regime imposed by government on student loans. President of the Otago University Students Association Stephen Day, says that the 8.2% interest rate is way out of whack with the rest of the economy. He says the prospect of huge debt is deterring many people, especially Maori and Pacific Islanders, from taking up these professional studies and that those people who do graduate with large debts will be forcing up the price of medical and dental services. Day also says student debt is drawing many graduates overseas where they can avoid repaying their loan. The protest is supported by the Medical Association, the University Students Association and the Christchurch School of Medicine Students Association.

    Nelson Polytech student Cameron Tyler is challenging the government's policy that exclude him from receiving an emergency unemployment benefit (community wage) last summer. Like all other students who did not qualify for the student allowance during the school year, Tyler was denied a community wage over the summer break. His case will be heard the in the High Court in Wellington.

    The sale of Carter Holt Harvey's business forms division in Mt Roskill, Auckland, results in the loss of at least 100 jobs.

    2 June 1999

    Solid Energy, the state-owned coal producer, announces a restructuring that will make 120 staff redundant by the end of the year. The Westport office will be cut back and jobs lost at mines around Greymouth. Job losses will also occur in Auckland, Wellington and Huntly where offices would be closed altogether.

    Qantas Airlines intends to employ 100 new NZ flight attendants to be based in Auckland and as many Thais based in Bangkok this year. The announcement draws criticism by staff in Australia.

    3 June 1999

    Roger Sowry tells parliament that over 34,000 mothers currently on the domestic purposes benefit roughly a third have had another child while on the benefit.

    The World Bank says that economic reforms result in greater inequality if the reforming nation does not provide a social safety net. The bank says that further loans to developing countries must encourage governments to provide unemployment insurance, subsidised school fees, job creation and food subsidies. The bank says these things are essential to broad-based recovery and stable growth. All the "reformed" East Asian economies are now experiencing huge increases in poverty and do not have systems in place to provide for people's basic needs.

    Todd Energy announces plans to construct an underground coal mine north of Greymouth. The mine at Rapahoe may provide jobs for dozens of people.

    Trade barriers should not be retained to protect jobs, according the US Federal Reserve Bank chair Alan Greenspan. His speech comes on the same day US steel producers call on their government to impose import duties on cold rolled steel. Greenspan says that while the personal cost in lost jobs is "wrenching" there is no credible evidence that trade has impacted on employment levels in the US in the long run. He says US policy should not protect jobs in "old-line" industries but focus on retraining displaced workers.

    6 June 1999

    US unemployment is at 4.2%, a 29 year low. However, the US Labour Department says that job growth was a meager 11,000 new jobs in May, after recording 343,000 new jobs in April.

    Queens Birthday Honours sees Margaret Bazley, Director-General of the Department of Social Welfare become a Dame.

    7 June 1999

    In a bid for local job creation, the Far North District Council's Economic Development Taskforce hosts a conference aimed at attracting the call centre industry to the region. Task Force chair Chris Mathews says there are significant advantages for call centres to be set up in rural areas, including low overheads and low employee turnover.

    8 June 1999

    Bankruptcies increased by 20% this year, according to Commerce Minister Max Bradford.

    The Inland Revenue Department's intention to pay redundancy to 600 staff by March 2000 is going to cost $46m. The IRD commissioner Graham Holland has applied to parliament for an increase in his budget to accommodate the severance cost. The restructuring is expected to create an annual savings of $22 - $23m but it will take five years before those savings begin to be realised.

    The number of job vacancy ads remain at about the same level as last month according to the ANZ survey. The advertising rate is about 15% higher than it was at this time last year.

    9 June 1999

    A European Commission survey finds that EU women earn, on average 25% less than EU men.

    10 June 1999

    The numbers of people on domestic purposes benefits and the number of people who have been unemployed for over four years has dropped since the end of 1996, according to Associate Social Services Minister Peter McCardle. He says the fall in these numbers is a result of new policies aimed at getting beneficiaries into training or work.

    Procter & Gamble, America's largest manufacturer of household products (Tide, Pampers, Crest) announces it will cut 15,000 jobs and close ten plants. The company currently has about 115,000 staff worldwide.

    In the wake of the killing of a local policeman in Mangakino, economist Gareth Morgan writes in the National Business Review that the town, like many others, should no longer exist. Morgan says that our social welfare system allows some NZ'ers to live in small towns that are outside the reality of the market. Morgan : "That Mangakino should have reverted to scrub by now is obvious to anyone who cares to look at the place. Five out of six working age people are on benefits..."

    Answering a question in parliament, Peter McCardle says that WINZ owes 1,684 customers a refund, averaging $127 each. The refunds are due for overpayments people have made to the department.

    One solo mother who has been on the DPB for 17 years tells The Dominion she works much harder than members of parliament and is paid a lot less. She is responding to MP Muriel Newman's criticism of people being on the DPB for long periods and how their children will become the criminals of the future. The solo mother says that her children know wrong from right and hopefully will grow up to be good members of the community. She says: "Plenty of middle-income parents, with two cars and the rest, have their kids go off the rails. You can't say it is just solo parents."

    11 June 1999

    On 1 October the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Agency will be come a stand-alone agency and its name will change to the Department of Child, Youth and Whanau. The move is part of the strategy to remove service delivery functions from the Department of Social Welfare.

    The Japanese prime minister Keizo Obuchi announces new job creation strategies and is planning an extra budget to finance the package. The plan consists of creating over 300,000 jobs in local and central government, promoting labour mobility and supporting retraining, and helping middle aged job seekers find jobs in new and growing industries.

    14 June 1999

    The appointment of an "acting" rather than a permanent chief executive to the Ministry of Youth Affairs may indicate the future of the ministry is unresolved. The NZ Herald says that the future of Youth Affairs is on hold as the government works through the issues related to Youth Affairs and the proposed new Ministry of Social Policy.

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