26 April, 2001
1 April 2001
Benefits, superannuation and other pensions rise today as part of the annual cost of living adjustment. The after-tax increase is nearly 4%. The community wage for a single person rises $5.92 to $154.56/wk. The superannuation for a couple rises $13.82 to $360.82/wk.
In Australia, a coalition of welfare agencies, trade unions, religious-based groups and academics is pushing for a royal commission on poverty. The groups want income support to be raised to 25% of average male weekly earnings.
2 April 2001
Qantas Airways in Australia will shed 220 executive and middle management jobs during the next two weeks. In February, Qantas announced it would cut 1,000 jobs as it tried to meet the challenges of increased domestic competition, rising fuel costs and a lower Australian dollar.
3 April 2001
Other staff will soon follow the departure of five top managers from Affco, one of NZ's largest meat exporters. Affco employs 3,000 people and new CEO Sam Lewis says that staff cuts, as well as salary cuts, are inevitable.
The WestpacTrust's latest Economic Overview warns exporters to expect a halving of their US sales, due to the slowdown of the US economy.
European telephone equipment manufacturer Alcatel SA plans to cut 1,200 jobs or 5% of its US workforce.
4 April 2001
Sawmilling company Keighleys Stillwater Ltd announces plans to lay off 47 staff at two South Island mills due to a reduction in Australian sales. The Stillwater sawmill on the West Coast and the Kaiapoi sawmill in Canterbury will share the job loses.
Winz East Coast Public Relations advisor Calvin Robinson says that relaxing the stand-down period for fruit pickers has improved the supply of pipfruit pickers in the Hawkes Bay this year. Some growers say that fruit picking is going well and that Winz had pulled out the stops to help supply workers. Other growers, however, report that they can't get through to their Winz contacts on the phone and they have had accuracy problems with contact details of potential workers. The lack of job boards in Winz offices is also seen as an impediment to pickers linking up with growers.
Australian academics Bob Birrell and Virginia Rapson have analysed the new trans-Tasman social security agreement, signed last week by Minister of Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton, and have concluded the agreement favours Australia.
5 April 2001
Commenting on the Birrell/Rapson report, PM Helen Cark says the price for compensating Australia for supporting NZ beneficiaries there would run to hundreds of millions of dollars. Clark says that if the government is going to spend that kind of money on NZ'ers, it will spend it in NZ and not in Australia.
Steve Maharey reports there are 24,048 fewer unemployed registered with Winz compared to 18 months ago.
Responding to the same Winz figures, Muriel Newman highlights the increase in the number of long term unemployed. Currently, over half of the registered unemployed have been without a job for more than one year.
Staff shortages at Auckland hospital's radiation therapy department means that one of the five machines is sitting idle while patients are waiting up to 20 weeks to be treated. Radiation therapists are in short supply throughout the world.
6 April 2001
Tranz Rail is awarded the "Roger Award" for being the worst transnational corporation in NZ in 2000. The award, organised by GATT Watchdog and Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa, assessed Tranz Rail against all others transnationals in NZ on its negative impact on: unemployment, monopoly, profiteering, abuse of workers/conditions, political interface, environment damage, cultural imperialism, impact on tangata whenua, running an ideological crusade, health and safety of workers and the public.
8 April 2001
The unemployment rate in the US rises to 4.3%.
9 April 2001
Australian newspaper job ads fell 7.9% in March, according to the ANZ monthly survey. The fall is on top of a 10% decline in February. Newspaper job ads are 32.8% lower than at this time next year.
10 April 2001
NZ newspaper job ads rose 2.5% in March, according to the ANZ monthly survey.
All Central Institute of Technology staff are being made redundant. The Upper Hutt campus is to be closed mid-year with teaching programmes incorporated into the Hutt Valley Polytechnic, which will be renamed the Wellington Institute of Technology. While about 120 positions will be created at WIT, a net of 90 full-time equivalent positions will be lost.
Christine Rankin files suit against the State Services Commission alleging political interference in the commission's decision not to reappoint her as CEO of Winz once her contract expires in July.
11 April 2001
State Services Minister Trevor Mallard announces the merging of Winz and the Ministry of Social Policy into a new Ministry of Social Development.
A WestPacTrust survey of household wealth finds that NZ'ers are 2.4% poorer than they were this time last year. The decline reflects a drop in house values and an increase in personal borrowing.
The Auckland District Health Board reports it has 450 staff vacancies.
A review of Rotorua's Waiariki Institute of Technology recommends staff cuts of 30 to 40 people.
13 April 2001
The PSA says it is disappointed with the announcement to re-merge the Ministry of Social Policy and the Department of Work and Income, saying the decision has been rushed through without consultation or adequate thought. PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff says: "The assurances of the Ministers of State Services and Social Services do not stop immediate anxiety for public service workers about job security. The uncertainty and distraction that a restructuring causes is disabling for the work at hand and unwelcome for our members".
A former Dunedin Winz worker is sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing money from the department while responsible for administration and payment of student allowances.
14 April 2001
Deputy PM Jim Anderton says he is working on a proposal to provide free health care to all NZ'ers under 18 years old.
15 April 2001
Jim Anderton says he is setting aside $3m of economic development money in a drive to get jobs for students into industries with labour shortages. Anderton says he will establish a national centre for work experience which will have a focus on forestry and dairy farming. (See story this issue)
16 April 2001
National's Social Services spokesperson Bob Simcock says that the announcement that the Ministry of Social Policy is to be absorbed into DWI, and (he believes that CYFS is likely to follow), is one more example of this Government's `we know best' approach. Simcock: "Departmental advice to the incoming Minister after the last election made it plain that the Government's advisors did not support any further restructuring in the sector. Last year's Hunn Review on the Department of Work and Income advised against further restructuring of that department. Judge Mick Brown's recently released review of the Child Youth and Family Service blamed repeated restructuring for much of the difficulty currently faced by that department. Given these facts any Government should take care to consult and consider all of the implications before making further structural changes..."
Women's Refuge leader Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says she would like to become head of the new Ministry of Social Development.
The People's Advocacy Society offers Christine Rankin a job on one of her department's work schemes.
The recent cost-of-living increase for beneficiaries and pensioners has put some people over the income threshold to qualify for subsidised health care.
One year after the US doubled the number of visas it was offering to attract foreign information technology engineers, the need for foreign workers has all but gone. The Information Technology Association of America says that the combination of the industry needing 50% fewer new employees than anticipated and an increase in IT graduates from US universities means that new foreign IT engineers are no longer required.
17 April 2001
Christine Rankin is seeking $818,000 in damages from the state, claiming political interference in the State Services Commissioner's decision not to reappoint her when her contract runs out in July. She is seeking damages, plus costs ... and also is seeking an order requiring the Commissioner to consider her for reappointment.
NZ and Hong Kong agree to launch negotiations on a bi-lateral free trade deal.
18 April 2001
Prime Minister Helen Clark might be forced to give evidence in court alongside other Cabinet Ministers in the legal battle waged by dumped Work and Income boss Christine Rankin over the loss of her $250,000-a-year job. Ms Rankin's lawyer, Michael Quigg, confirms that most of the evidence of political interference in her case was oral, and he will be calling witnesses.
The collapse of Hartner Construction in Auckland has cost over 1,000 jobs and, as a result, at least eight other companies are folding. Job losses are likely to be even higher as disputes arbitrator Geoff Bayly says at least 14 more companies have recently approached insolvency agencies.
19 April 2001
The Social Services Minister says he is happy with plans to form a new Ministry of Social Development in spite of papers that indicate he was initially reluctant. The papers, released under the Official Information Act, showed that Steve Maharey stated the proposal to merge the Department of Work and Income with the Ministry of Social Policy to form the new ministry was not well thought out and dealt with the social policy issues "very skimpily, or not at all".
The Reserve Bank lowers its baseline interest rate by a quarter of a percent to 6%.
The slowdown in the US and Australian economies is stifling confidence in South Island manufacturers. A NZIER survey says that 20% of South Island manufacturers expect to cut their payroll, however Canterbury Manufacturers Association CEO John Walley says he does not expect a wave of layoffs.
The government will introduce special provisions to allow specific industry groups to employ skilled foreign workers. (See story this issue)