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    Letter No.111
    5 November, 1999

    6 October 1999

    A farm worker exchange programme for young people is taking applications for up to 80 people aged 18 - 30 for placements in countries of the applicants' choice. Agriventure President Mike Dodgshun says his organisation is placing people for up to 15 months. The exchange scheme is not only for people with interests in basic agricultural and horticultural work, but there is scope to do childcare and catering work as well. Agriventure arranges work, work permits, accommodation and visas.

    7 October 1999

    A Labour government would look to changing the State Sector Act to improve efficiency and accountability in the public service, according to finance spokesperson Michael Cullen. Cullen says the belief that public sector agencies are businesses is of fundamental concern.

    Northland Health's medical advisor Jonathan Jarman says the increase in tuberculosis, meningococcal meningitis and rheumatic fever in Northland is on par with some of the world's poorest countries. He says poor housing and unemployment are key factors in these poverty-linked diseases.

    8 October 1999

    Former Treasurer Bill Birch, a 27-year veteran of parliament, delivers his valedictory speech to the House.

    Charges are dropped when an unemployed New Plymouth man goes to court after being arrested for stealing a loaf of bread from the rubbish bin of a bakery.

    10 October 1999

    NetAid, an eleven hour trans-Atlantic concert is broadcast world wide on radio, television and on the internet promoting the fight against global poverty.

    11 October 1999

    The Green Party would streamline the benefit system, abolish benefit stand-down periods, youth pay rates and the work-for-the-dole scheme. Spokesperson Sue Bradford says the Greens would also investigate restoring the family benefit.

    Heinz Wattie is closing its processing operation in Gisborne in May or June of next year with the loss of 24 fulltime jobs and work for 180 seasonal workers. Cedenco, which is buying the Watties business, will employ four new full time staff and expects to use 50 seasonal workers.

    Watties is also closing its Timaru pet food plant with the loss of 14 jobs.

    12 October 1999

    A high percentage of Army personnel, who also claim Winz benefits, are reportedly doing so fraudulently. Winz has audited 123 of their customers who are in the NZ Army and found 85 knowingly in receipt of over payments, generally by not declaring their Army income.

    Massey University staff fear that up to 70 jobs will go if the Palmerston North campus restructures.

    About 50 University of Auckland students barricade the doors to the clock tower area saying they will stay there until university fees for next year are announced. Students call on the university to set the fees before students disperse for the summer.

    13 October 1999

    Both Labour and the Alliance pledge to address the gender pay equity gap issue. Labour supports case-by-case mediation, while the Alliance wants a system of pay equity claims enforceable through the Employment Tribunal and Employment Court.

    At the University of Auckland campus, police arrest four people in a pre-dawn raid. University authorities summoned the police to evict students protesting the expected fee rises.

    The fight against poverty is taking centre stage in International Monetary Fund programmes. The IMF has been criticised for concentrating on controlling currencies and government austerity, both of which take money away from social services and lead to high unemployment.

    In a substantial change of policy, IMF managing director Michel Camdessus now says that poverty in the world is the more important and deeper crisis than capital flight and financial instability. Camdessus: "The fight against poverty has gained centre stage in our programmes. The inter-relationship between growth and social development has been too loosely defined so far in our activities"

    14 October 1999

    ACT's Richard Prebble calls for the community wage scheme to be widened to include all people who are unemployed. Prebble: "Our objective is to have a situation where nobody gets a dole cheque without doing something." He also says ACT intends to give people a hand-up as soon as they become unemployed rather than having to wait a year before getting assistance.

    15 October 1999

    The Auditor-General says no one is to blame for the Winz $235,206 spending on charter flights and training event at a resort near Taupo in June. In a report, the Auditor-General says spending was the final result of a series of miscommunications and mistakes. It also says that the spending was an isolated incident.

    A disease affecting scallops in the Coromandel is also affecting jobs in the area. Whangamata Seafoods is preparing to lay off 40 people as they can not harvest the shellfish.

    The restructuring of ACC subsidiary Catalyst Insurers Services will see the loss of 150 jobs this month. Catalyst is disestablishing 400 jobs and asking staff to apply for 250 "new" positions.

    17 October 1999

    Siggy Bauer completes his 802km, 17 day Wanganui to Auckland "run for the right to work" at the Alliance's campaign launch in Takapuna, Auckland.

    The employment focus in Labour's Maori policy includes helping young Maori gain qualifications through a modern apprenticeship programme.

    The lawyer for the Winz manager that organised the travel to the Wairakei resort says the full story of the affair would emerge next year when his client goes to court over her suspension.

    18 October 1999

    The average pay rise, this year, for chief executives of government departments was 6.7%, not including performance incentives and employer contributions to superannuation. The average pay increase for all NZ wage and salary earners was 1.4%.

    NZ First leader Winston Peters tells a Hamilton audience his party would require all 18 year old males to spend 12 weeks training in the armed forces, civil defence or similar activity. Peters says the scheme would give the young men purpose and direction, useful skills and more respect for authority. There are 28,000 males turning 18 each year and about 26,000 would qualify for the scheme. Although young women would be allowed to volunteer, women would be excluded from compulsive aspect of the scheme because of logistical reasons and because they were less likely to be troublemakers.

    The Australian Cabinet agrees it will not be adopting a student loan scheme similar to that run in New Zealand. The Australian Cabinet also abandons plans to have universities set their own fees.

    The quarterly Institute of Economic Research report says of the firms questioned, 21% say they expect to take on staff while 17% says they intend to cut staff.

    The intense interest in working for the new Burger King in New Plymouth may be a sign of the times, according to Winz work broker Terry Curran. He reports that 670 people applied for the 71 positions at the new fast food outlet. Also, the Warehouse redevelopment there is providing 62 new retail jobs. Manager Allan Vincent says several hundred people applied for the extra jobs at the new store.

    The new Child, Youth and Families Service chief executive defends her decision to spend $13,000 for two staff on a five-day residential course near Auckland. Jackie Brown says she believed the enhanced management skills of the staff would benefit the children and families they work with.

    19 October 1999

    Winz have had 535 (or 13%) of its staff leave over the last twelve months.

    A woman who was injured while working unpaid as a trainee is to have the cost of her treatment covered by ACC. A recent court ruling has found that whether a person is being paid for their work or not should not have a bearing on their coverage by ACC for a work injury.

    The four largest Australian banks have cut their staff by 7,400, nearly 5% during the past year.

    20 October 1999

    The America's Cup Village has produced 50 student jobs and another 400 jobs have been offered by surrounding businesses. Student Job Search regional manager Sino Aliono says there won't be enough jobs to go around, but things are better this year than last.

    School sporting programmes are being wound down as teachers' increasing workloads deter them from supervising after-school sports. The Secondary School Sports Council chair Chris Saunders says that increased workload on teachers is taking its toll on sports, music and drama.

    The University of Papua New Guinea closes for the year after three weeks of student protest about a 25% fee increase.

    21 October 1999

    NZ politicians get pay increases similar to those awarded to departmental chief executives. The prime minister, cabinet and party leaders get a pay rise of 6%. Backbenchers get 3.75%.

    Bendon, NZ's underwear manufacturer, announces it is closing its Te Aroha plant with the loss of 100 jobs there. Another 242 workers will go if a buyer is not found for the Te Rapa plant, which has planned to shut its door at the end of March. Bendon is setting up manufacturing in China, Thailand and the Philippines. Managing director Hugo Venter says his company is leaving NZ in order to remain competitive.

    The pre-election "opening of the Treasury books" shows modest GDP growth of 2.3%, inflation at 2.7%, a current account deficit of $8.5 billion and a governmental budget surplus of $14m.

    Experienced intensive care and accident and emergency nurses are in short supply. Waikato Hospital has recruited British nurses to fill vacancies.

    As many as 200 jobs are likely to go in the liquor distribution industry by March next year. Dominion Breweries will lose 15 head office staff in South Auckland and Allied Liquor Merchants will see 150 jobs go in Pakuranga as they withdraw from their wholesale spirits business. The change is also likely to see another contractor lose 35 warehouse and driving staff. Distribution Workers' Union's Mike Jackson says parallel importing of name brand spirits is allowing small companies with just a few casual staff to nobble the larger companies.

    Out-going finance minister Bill Birch estimates the NZ economy is creating 600 jobs per week.

    24 October 1999

    The Winz annual report says that 8,650 people who had been unemployed for six months or longer were placed in stable jobs during the last 12 months. This is 38% fewer placements in the same category than achieved last year. The number of people who have been on the unemployment register for more than two years rose from 25,907 to 35,941.

    An ex-Winz case manager is serving 18 months in prison for fraudulently paying herself $121,471 over a two year period.

    25 October 1999

    Labour Day.

    Winz customers will soon be able to apply for a benefit by phone. National Commissioner Ray Smith says this new system will cut the amount of time people need to spend face to face with their case manager. People will still need to attend a Winz office for final assessment and documentation. Smith says another call centre is being set up to handle the increased workload expected.

    Labour promises to review the adult and youth minimum wages. Pete Hodgson says it guarantees fulltime workers 11 paid public holidays and part-timers a pro rata entitlement, guarantees overtime payments and a day in lieu for people working a public holiday. Labour will also see that workers are paid their entitlement to holiday pay even if they are laid off just prior to the holiday.

    26 October 1999

    Business confidence in Australia is booming. The Morgan & Banks Job Index reveals that 38% of businesses say they will add to their staff during the next quarter, while only 11% plan to downsize.

    Api Malu, who featured in the Winz TV advertisement as the smiley frontman for a commercial apparently produced by unemployed people is standing for Mauri Pacific in the Mana seat near Porirua. Malu says the main parties are out-of-touch with the Pacific Island community.

    The Alliance targets job creation on the West Coast as leader Jim Anderton promises 1,200 jobs through economic development during the next three years. The Alliance wants to see 2,000 hectares of exotic trees planted, owned by a community trust which could require them to be processed locally.

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