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    Letter No.135
    1 December, 2000

    14 November 2000

    US economist and author Jeremy Rifkin says that the current growth of the US economy is very similar to that of the 1920s. He says the growth is founded on record levels of consumer credit, and that American households now have a negative savings rate for the first time since the Great Depression. Rifkin warns that any kind of financial crisis, such as a stock market crash, or an increase in already inflated oil prices, could easily burst the American economic bubble.

    Te Kuiti shoe company Fabia is cutting 20 jobs from a workforce of 52. The company says weak local demand and cheap imports are to blame. Fabia is one of the few local shoemakers left in New Zealand.

    The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has released a report which says that local welfare agencies are unable to meet the demand for help or have been forced to cut back on the help they provide to low income and disadvantaged Australians. Tough welfare rules are forcing more people to rely on churches and welfare agencies. ACOSS president Michael Raper says the Australian government needs to boost the unemployment benefit, which is well below the poverty line.

    15 November 2000

    The Medical Council and the Medical Association say spiralling student loan debt among medical graduates is endangering the health and safety of the public. Student loans are causing many young doctors to leave NZ, leaving hospitals short-staffed. The medical groups say high loan debts are also forcing doctors to become specialists, which is resulting in a shortage of GPs.

    The Auckland University of Technology, in partnership with Microsoft, is setting up an e-business section, and will add e-business to its Bachelor of Business degree next year.

    16 November 2000

    A new $1.9m computer network for Student Job Search is launched in Auckland. The new system enables Student Job Search centres to contact employers via e-mail, post jobs to an online job board, and includes an interface with Winz.

    The Government's decision to remove all import tariffs on the world's 42 poorest countries is heavily criticised. Trade Unions Council secretary Paul Coulter says the decision will cost jobs. Green Party co-leader Rod Green says the move will be the death knell of the local clothing industry.

    Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey releases a Winz report which concludes that the work for the dole scheme has been a complete failure. The report says beneficiaries are no better off in Community Work than if left on a benefit, and that participants in the scheme are less likely to find positive employment.

    The employment website Seek ( is named the best employment site in New Zealand at the Netguide Web Awards 2000.

    18 November 2000

    An international study of 10,000 workers in 32 countries finds only a third of them are loyal to their employers. The study says if companies want to retain their employees they must be family friendly, show interest in the talents of individual employees, give them freedom to make their own decisions, and make them feel they are being paid fairly according to their individual merit.

    19 November 2000

    Sydney-based telecommunications analyst Paul Budde says the government should consider investing in broadband internet access if Telecom will not. He says the country could have a great future in e-commerce, but if the government does not pressure Telecom to expand NZ's broadband access, or take action itself, it will severely hamper the development of the New Zealand economy.

    Winz statistics show that the number of people registered as out of work for more than a year has risen to a record of 110,081 people. ACT employment spokesperson Muriel Newman says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is hiding behind the Household Labour Force survey figures, which do not include beneficiaries who work just one a hour a week. Newman: "I challenge the Minister to stop hiding his head in the sand and front up to the fact that he has a serious long-term unemployment problem on his hands."

    20 November 2000

    Public hospitals say they want to hire more low-paid "healthcare assistants" to combat a drastic nurse shortage — a move considered unsafe by nursing leaders. Hospitals are also assigning doctors' duties such as minor surgery to nurses. Auckland Healthcare chief executive Graeme Edmond says the country faces a serious shortage of nurses and other health professionals.

    Te Kuiti contracting company Fieldway Services Ltd has gone into liquidation, with the loss of 32 jobs.

    21 November 2000

    Enrolment at the Southland Institute of Technology in Invercargill has skyrocketed as a result of its zero fees scheme. All places on all courses are full. Chief executive Penny Simmonds says the institute will have to turn away a number of students.

    The OECD says in its biannual report that the NZ economy will rebound — helped by the boost that the low NZ dollar has given to exports — although it warns that the Employment Relations Act could lead to rising inflation. Finance Minister Michael Cullen says that despite its caution about the Employment Relations Act, the report confirms NZ's economy is on the right track.

    October migration statistics released by Statistics NZ say 72,583 NZ'ers have left since the Labour government came to power. ACT leader Richard Prebble notes that two hundred NZ'ers, enough to fill a Boeing 767, are leaving the country every day.

    ACT employment spokesperson Muriel Newman says Steve Maharey has deliberately misled Parliament over the cost of the Community Wage in order to turn public opinion against the scheme.

    Winz's budget of $113 million for subsidised work schemes is likely to be used in full this year, after being underspent in the past. The Job Plus scheme gives employers $214 a week for six months to a year, to take on people who have been unemployed for over six months. National commissioner Ray Smith says firms are more willing to give the unemployed a break in return for assistance.

    22 November 2000

    Winz says it accepts responsibility for the student loans fiasco this year and has learned its lesson. Alliance MP Liz Gordon says up to a thousand students left this year because of loan problems.

    23 November 2000

    Plans are unveiled for an $80 million private hospital in Hamilton. 150 new jobs will be created when it opens in mid-2002.

    The Christchurch Medical Students' Association calls upon the Government to change student funding. The Association recommends permanently capping fees, bonding medical graduates in return for free education, rewarding graduates who stay here by discounting their loans, and paying all students a universal allowance.

    24 November 2000

    A report released by the Equal Opportunities Trust says NZ has a long way to go before it eliminates discrimination in hiring employees. The report says immigrants, the disabled, Maori and Pacific Islanders, women, people committed to their families, and gays and lesbians are still discriminated against. The trust says that workplaces are missing out on talented staff because emphasis is still put on finding people who will "fit in" rather than hiring on the basis of qualifications, experience and merit.

    An unprecedented demand for subsidies to help businesses recruit long-term unemployed is forcing some Auckland branches of Winz to cap subsidy amounts. An employer told the New Zealand Herald that a Winz official told him that future subsidies would be capped in some areas of Auckland at $120 a week, compared to the $214 he receives now for his three workers.

    The report of the East Coast's Tairawhiti Development Taskforce is released. Taskforce chairman, Deputy PM Jim Anderton, has now handed over the chairing of the Taskforce to the mayors of Gisborne and Wairoa, who were instrumental in establishing the group. The report outlines the achievements of the group which include: the announcement of a regional road, rail and port review, providing 2000 computers for schools and establishing 13 community computer hubs with government funding assistance, $240,000 from the Government over three years for an advisory service to improve productive use of Maori land in the region, a home safety ad campaign on local radio stations, getting young people to undertake the Army's Limited Service Volunteer Scheme, and a commitment to work towards processing 60% of logs in the region.

    Jim Anderton and Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia launch Wairoa dot com, the first of 13 community computer hubs for the Tairawhiti region. Horomia: "I believe that e-technology is probably one of the most powerful things that could be available to East Coast communities. I encourage all communities, particularly Maori communities, to get on board the cyberwaka."

    27 November 2000

    According to a Morgan & Banks Job Index survey, 30.1% of 1200 employers plan to increase their staff in the next six months. It is the highest level of staffing required since the launch of the Job Index in May 1997.

    21 schools have been chosen to test the Government's new Gateway — Te Tomokanga programme in 2001. The programme enables Form 5-7 students to gain structured work experience at a workplace in their local community during school time, as well as attending regular classes.

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