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    Essential Information on an Essential Issue

    Letter No.130

    8 September, 2000

    From the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs special meeting with leaders of the former Maori Economic and Employment Commissions.
  • Mayors Taskforce special meeting
  • Voices — Mayor Fox, McCabe, Wetere, and Professor Shirley
  • Photos from the Taskforce special meeting

    Extracts form the report on the uncompleted national employment strategy being developed last year by Professor Ian Shirley, Peter Harris, Ganesh Nana, Dennis Rose and Kel Sanderson

    More than fifty beneficiary advocates from Northland to Invercargill met last week with Government Ministers, the Department of Work and Income (Winz) and Ministry of Social Policy (MSP). They discussed progress on a list of 123 recommendations of immediate changes that the advocates want to see Winz and other departments implement in order to assist those living on a benefit.

    The Conference took place at Tatum Park near Levin, and was addressed by Ruth Dyson, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment and Parekura Horomia, Minister of Maori Affairs. The ministers later said that the government "valued its ongoing relationship with the advocates..."

    Robert Reid, President of Unite! and spokesperson for the advocate groups says that the conference enabled a wide group to consider the recommendations from the advocates and to discuss what progress had been made on them by the departments. The meeting also included workshops with representatives from Winz, MSP, Department of Labour, Ministry of Economic Development and Housing New Zealand. Representatives from the Labour, Alliance and Green Parties were invited to the final session of the conference.

    There will now be regional meetings held between beneficiary advocate groups and the Winz Regional Commissioners. Maori beneficiary advocates have formed their own network and have been invited to be involved in the Winz Maori structures.

  • A key issue of the conference was the ongoing funding and support of the advocacy groups. Reid: "Beneficiary groups ensure that the poorest of New Zealanders receive what they are entitled to under Social Security legislation. As such, we play a major role in both auditing the work of the Department of Work and Income and assisting in the process of "closing the gaps". However, most groups are existing with little help from the state and many are currently in a financially precarious situation..."
    Sources — Press Release 5 September 2000 Robert Reid "Beneficiary Advocates and Government Cement ongoing Relationship"; Maharey Notes 4 September 2000 "Beneficiary Advocates and Government Meet".

    Also last week, the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs met in Wellington with leaders from the (now dis-established) Maori Economic and Employment Commissions. Recognising that the Maori unemployment rate is about three times the level of all New Zealanders, the Mayors wanted to draw on the experience of the Maori Commissions when considering their own plans for employment action.

    The meeting was convened by Wairoa Mayor Derek Fox, and included presentations from June McCabe (former chair of the Maori Economic Development Commission) and Rongo Wetere (former chair of the Maori Employment and Training Commission). They outlined the work of the Commissions, and gave their recommendations for designing employment strategies which will have the greatest impact on Maori.

  • The meeting included a presentation from Professor Ian Shirley, of Massey University, who last year led a team developing a national employment strategy on behalf of the Maori Employment and Training Commission. This strategy team was working closely with Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) to create employment action plans for five selected regions (Canterbury, Hawkes Bay, South Waikato, Waitakere City and Northland).

    The philosophy of this strategy team was that a national employment strategy would need to be created before effective work could be done on a specific Maori component. The strategy team also didn't want to produce just another report ... but preferred to create an "action plan" which would capitalise on the opportunities for growth in the regions, and "roll back the barriers" to attracting, encouraging and developing the entrepreneurial capacities of local people.

    This employment strategy was not completed, primarily because the incoming Labour/Alliance government asked the Commissions to wind up their efforts. The reports and summaries of the Commissions' work on the strategy have only recently been released to the public.

  • Professor Shirley reported to the Mayors that the project would need another six months of funding for it to be completed, and this work would include further regional workshops, and the formulation of a specific employment strategy for Maori. The Mayors at the Wellington meeting were impressed by Professor Shirley's presentation, and agreed to approach the government with the recommendation that his work on the employment strategy be completed.

  • Mayors who were present at the Taskforce meeting included Derek Fox (Wairoa), Garry Moore (Christchurch), Claire Stewart (New Plymouth), Jenny Brash (Porirua), Graeme Ramsey (Kaipara), Yvonne Sharp (Far North), Chas Poynter (Wanganui), John Terris (Hutt) and Mark Blumsky (Wellington).

    Coming up: on Tuesday evening, the leaders of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs will sign up a "Memorandum of Understanding" with government ministers at a special meeting at the Beehive. The Memorandum is an agreement that central and local government will work in partnership on their shared employment objectives.

    The Department of Labour has appointed Charlie Moore as the new General Manager of the Community Employment Group (CEG). Moore was formerly the northern regional manager with the NZ Employment Service, and is currently policy manager within the DoL's Labour Market Policy Group. Within DoL, Moore has worked as a GELs fieldworker in West Auckland, and has held a variety of management positions. He has also worked for the Race Relations Conciliator, the former Department of Maori Affairs, the Department of Social Welfare, and has been a member of the Hoani Waititi Marae Committee.

    Secretary of Labour, John Chetwin, says that Moore brings an exceptional range of skills and experience to CEG. Chetwin: "He has strong managerial and community development experience and has worked effectively across a broad spectrum from the grass roots level in the community through to strategic policy."

    Source — Employment Matters August 2000 "New Manager" by Sue Lancaster.

    Cabinet has signed off on the government's new Community Employment Organisations (CEOs) scheme which be launched on October 1st. The new CEOs will receive government set-up grants of $25,000, as well as wage subsidies for hiring unemployed people.

    Just under $118.5 million has been budgeted for the scheme over the first three years, but this is not all new money, as $85.4 million of that will be transferred from funding provisions for existing welfare benefits. Most of the money will go on wage subsidies, but nearly $8.5 million has been provided for the CEO's establishment costs.

    The CEOs must be either public sector or charitable organisations providing goods or services of benefit to the community, local economy or environment. They must not be competing directly with the private sector or displace other paid workers. They are expected to find alternative funding sources, such as local government or charitable trusts, to top up the wage subsidies to at least the statutory minimum wage, and they must demonstrate a likelihood of becoming self-sufficient of Government support over time.

  • Mathew Dearnaley of the New Zealand Herald reports that government officials initially proposed that the establishment grants should be about $9000, but this was changed to $25,000 after consulting potential CEOs. The organisations may be entitled to development funding in successive years, but at declining rates.

    Government ministers have also agreed to amend wage subsidy guidelines so funding for severely disadvantaged job-seekers can continue beyond 12 months in exceptional cases, but again at reduced levels.

  • Mathew Dearnaley also reports that Treasury advised Cabinet that only about 55 employment organisations are likely to be established this financial year under the $25,000 funding average. Treasury: "Unless each [community employment organisation] takes on a significant number of subsidised employees, the employment effects of this programme are likely to be very small..."

    Green MP Sue Bradford agrees. She told the New Zealand Herald that she doubts the $25,000 establishment grant will be anywhere near enough if organisations also have to find ways of topping up wage subsidies while trying to meet costs of supervision and materials.

    Employment Minister Steve Maharey says he accepts that the number of jobs created by 2003 is likely to fall short of the 4000 placements initially envisaged … but he says the priority is to bolster chances of generating sustainable organisations and employment.

    Source — New Zealand Herald 26 August 2000 "Doubts linger over local jobs scheme" by Mathew Dearnaley

    Will the labour market meet the income needs of the majority of New Zealanders in the future? This is the question behind the "Future Incomes" conference being held in Palmerston North on Friday 22nd September. The conference will be jointly chaired by Social Services Minister Steve Maharey and the Mayor of Palmerston North, Jill White.

    Conference organiser Ian Ritchie points out that one third of jobs identified in the May 2000 Quarterly Employment Survey are part-time. He says that if we add casual jobs not covered by the QES, casual or part-time self-employment, and persons working in family businesses without pay … then that figure would increase to about 40%. Adding short duration or seasonal full-time jobs to the casual category suggests that up to half of New Zealand's employed rely on casual work.

    Ritchie: "Many people want but are unable to get more paid work. Given that the labour force also includes the unemployed, we can conclude that over half the labour force are income insecure. The labour surplus is probably two to three times the official rate of unemployment, with Maori and Pacific Island joblessness at least double the average ... This may be the first conference in New Zealand to focus on these issues."

    For further information contact Ian Ritchie phone 06-359-3804 email

    The booming US economy is seeing record numbers of workers move from insecure employment to full-time permanent jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based independent think-tank. The Institute reports that, since the mid 1990s, the return of full employment (which they define as under 5.5%) has strengthened US workers' bargaining power. This has, in turn, led to a decline in the proportion of flexible workers in temporary or part-time jobs.

    This key finding is found in the Institute's latest report on the state of working America. The study, which is considered the most comprehensive independent analysis of the US labour market, suggests there is a dramatic shift is taking place in the US away from flexible employment and towards the revival of regular work.

    The report: "The long-term rise in job instability and job insecurity, which continued well into the current economic recovery, finally abated at the end of the last decade. Even the share of workers in nonstandard — often substandard — work arrangements such as temporary work and part-time work has declined as opportunities for regular full-time employment have grown […] Persistent low unemployment has allowed workers to move from substandard jobs — temporary, part-time, or without benefits — to better, more regular jobs. At the same time, low-wage workers and low income families have benefited the most, reversing nearly 20 years of declining real incomes…"

  • The report also reveals that the growth in e-commerce and information technology has so far not brought any significant increase in jobs. Only 7.5% of all new jobs created in the 1990s came in the IT sector. Last year, a mere 2.0% of US workers were employed in IT compared with 1.3% in 1989.
    Source — Financial Times 4 September 2000 "Booming US economy sees return of job security" By Robert Taylor

    The full report of the Redesigning Resources conference, held in June (see The Jobs Letter No.127), is now available on the internet at

    It contains summaries of the workshops held with six "pathfinder organisations" (Christchurch City, Landcare Research, Macpac, Orion, The Warehouse and the Shire of Yarra Ranges) who have agreed to work towards following "Natural Capitalism" principles in their own businesses. The organisations will continue to meet over the next two years and report on their progress.

    From the report: "There is an awareness we've embarked on the next industrial revolution; one which needs to echo the spirit of the first, maximising use of what is plentiful and conserving what is scarce. What's changed of course is that what was plentiful under the old model (nature), and what was scarce (people), has reversed. Humans are the only species without full employment, and the problem is rapidly growing. Any biologist will testify our natural resources are concomitantly shrinking. Any major insurance broker will underscore who's paying for climate change. What's needed is radical change — in thinking, in community, business and governance…"

    Source — Redesigning Resources Conference report August 2000, downloadable as a PDF file from

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