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    Letter No.134
    16 November, 2000

    27 October 2000

    GLG NZ, maker of the BBQ Factory gas cooker and the Kent log fire, is moving its production plant to Malaysia, with the loss of 60 Auckland jobs. The company says the move is the result of NZ's zero tariff regime, and a need to be nearer its major European markets. Chief executive Chris George says most staff made redundant have taken early retirement or found new jobs.

    Brian Murphy, founder of mature employment agency Grey Skills, is selling up. Mr Murphy has helped many unemployed people over the age of 40 into home services work from gardening to painting. Grey Skills operates in Canterbury, Bay of Plenty and Auckland, but Murphy was hoping to see it established nationwide. He warns that government organisations are still not prepared for the employment problems that will come as baby-boomers get older.

    28 October 2000

    Commerce minister Paul Swain says the Government eventually plans to purchase all its goods through the internet. He says small businesses which do not move to e-commerce risk missing out on a significant amount of business. The Government buys $5.4 billion worth of goods each year.

    30 October 2000

    Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziell says business migrants may be able to immigrate here with less money if they settle outside of Auckland. At present business migrants must invest between $1 million and $5 million depending on their age. She will look at whether the $1 million limit is too high for investment outside Auckland.

    1 November 2000

    The Government launches its e-commerce strategy in Auckland. It says it will lead by example in its uptake of new technology, educate businesses and individuals in information technology, and create an economic and legal framework in which e-commerce can thrive.

    Victoria University e-commerce professor Brian Corbitt says the Government's e-commerce initiative is 2-4 years behind the rest of the world. He is concerned about the 5 year time frame for policy, and says it should realistically be 18 months.

    2 November 2000

    Unemployment is at 5.9%, its lowest level for 12 years, according to Statistics NZ figures released today. See feature in this issue.

    Swedish mobile phone company Ericsson and Wellington software company Synergy announce a joint venture to develop mobile Internet technologies, creating about 150 jobs.

    ACT leader Richard Prebble challenges the Government to do a survey of what will attract talented people to the country.

    3 November 2000

    Nestle is closing its confectionery plant in Oamaru and relocating it to Australia, with the loss of 48 jobs.

    5 November 2000

    National's Economic Development spokesperson Max Bradford says the Government's regional development policies are failing to stop job losses in regional New Zealand. Bradford: "So far we know Jim's Jobs Machine has employed a whole bunch of consultants in Wellington, but families in the regional New Zealand have had news of job cuts."

    6 November 2000

    Jim Anderton argues that jobs are indeed being created in rural areas and across NZ, and some National MPs have acknowledged this. Anderton: I would suggest National get their line of attack right. Either there are 37,000 jobs in the new economy or there aren't."

    Hawkes Bay earthmoving contractor East Coast Contractors is going out of business, with the loss of up to 103 jobs. The decision affects 50 jobs in Tauranga, 42 in Hastings and 11 in Gisborne.

    Federated Farmers estimates there are 2,000 extra farm workers needed in the South Island alone, as the rural economy expands. Canterbury needs the most workers.

    Deputy PM Jim Anderton's People's Bank could be up and running by the middle of next year. Anderton has secured the support of PM Helen Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen, who has approved financial support for the venture.

    The Eastern Institute of Technology is to run a social work course that is free to Maori and Pacific Islands people next year. The course is part of a government programme to get more Maori trained in social services, and Skill NZ will pay the students' fees.

    8 November 2000

    Winz announces changes to the seasonal work rules to encourage more unemployed people to do seasonal work. Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says most beneficiaries who undertake seasonal work will have their benefits reinstated within 24 hours of finishing, and will be compensated for bad weather.

    9 November 2000

    30% of staff employed at the IRD's five call centres have quit in the last year. The staff have had a higher workload than expected because of the complexity and volume of calls.

    10 November 2000

    The Government wants to set up reciprocal arrangements with Britain and Australia to collect student loan repayments via the tax system.

    The Social Security Amendment Bill is introduced to Parliament. The Bill removes all references to the National government's "community wage", reinstating the "unemployment benefit" and a non-work tested "sickness benefit". Unpaid community work will no longer be compulsory. Those with a sickness, disability or injury will no longer be tested for work capacity, and the income threshold for a disability allowance will be increased.

    12 November 2000

    Dame Margaret Bazley is to retire, and will step down as CEO of the Ministry of Social Policy next year. Bazley has headed the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Transport, has held senior roles in health services and was a member of the State Services Commission.

    According to research by IT education company Com Tech Education Services, money spent on online learning programmes is wasted. Com Tech's General Manager Steve Ross says corporates are adopting e-learning for cost saving rather than effectiveness. Ross: "We believe humans learn best from humans and that online learning is not an acceptable substitute for face-to-face training. Staff enthusiasm for this type of learning is low because it is mass personalised and a sterile and artificial form of communication. People are different, yet online courses are pitched to everyone in the same way."

    Auckland call centre company Teletech has put an offer to the Government which could see call centres built in areas of low employment. The plan calls for the Government to channel some of its call centre work through the regional call centres. Teletech employs about 350 people.

    13 November 2000

    Green Party co-leader Rod Donald criticises police for buying their shirts from Indonesia to save money. He says that there is an irony in buying the shirts overseas because local unemployment contributes to crime.

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