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    Letter No.144
    18 May, 2001

    17 April 2001

    The Ministry of Health informs the government that some beneficiaries and superannuitants may lose their eligibility for Community Services Cards due to the cost-of-living increases of 1st April.

    Winz CEO Christine Rankin says she will sue the State Services Commission for disestablishing her job. She says the decision was politically influenced. The $818,000 claim is for immediate loss of employment, plus future loss that could arise either as a result of her being unable to get work, or having to take a position with lesser terms and conditions.

    18 April 2001

    Christine Rankin was not made aware of State Services Commissioner Michael Wintringham's letter to the Prime Minister in mid-December that described intentions to merge Winz with the Ministry of Social Policy. Rankin was told in December that she would not be reappointed but not about the reorganisation.

    There was a 48% drop in the rental price of state houses last quarter and this was a major contributing factor to the overall 0.2% drop in the consumer price index.

    The Minister of Social Services Steve Maharey says the processing of student loans has improved "out of sight". Maharey says that 98,000 applications were processed within the first 12 weeks this year and that 94% of students said they were satisfied with the service.

    21 April 2001

    The British government promises to blacklist employment agencies that poach nurses from developing countries. Like NZ, Britain has a severe shortage of qualified nurses.

    Recent statistics illustrate that not only has the gap between the rich and the poor in Britain increased under the current government but that the poorest fifth of English households pay 41.4% in tax while the richest fifth pay 36.5%.

    22 April 2001

    Paid parental leave provisions will be included in the Budget, due in late May.

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    23 April 2001

    1,100 employees of Qantas NZ have already lost their jobs and external job losses from the collapsed airline have started to follow. Director of Pacific Flight Catering Terry Hay says 45 of his Christchurch staff and 25 in Wellington are being made redundant. Hay warns that up to 1,500 people who work for suppliers to the liquidated airline would lose their jobs.

    The government raises the income threshold for eligibility for the Community Services Card for beneficiaries and superannuitants.

    A two-week employment court hearing between Winz CEO Christine Rankin and the government regarding her unrenewed contract is set to being on the 25th June.

    The Alliance Party proposes a 20% tax cut for people earning less than $7,600/yr and a 20% increase for people earning over $36,000/yr.

    24 April 2001

    The Greens seek a meeting with PM Helen Clark to discuss the exclusion of low-income workers from the new thresholds set for the Community Services Card.

    The Roy Morgan survey appearing in The Bulletin magazine estimates unemployment in Australia to be 10.5% or more than one in ten working people. The Australian Bureau of Statistics puts the figure at 6.8%. The ABS classifies people as employed even if they were looking for work but had only worked one hour during the week.

    25 April 2001

    National Party leader Jenny Shipley complains to the Human Rights Commission over the government's policy of discrimination between beneficiaries and workers in regards to Community Services Cards.

    Some Qantas NZ redundant staff may not be unemployed for long, as Air NZ says it has 522 vacancies.

    26 April 2001

    Helen Clark blames Ministers and bureaucrats for not anticipating the anomalies caused by the threshold changes to the Community Services Card.

    27 April 2001

    Green Party MP Sue Bradford reports she has been unable to convince the coalition government to raise the income thresholds for eligibility for Community Services Cards.

    29 April 2001

    The Human Rights Commission says the government's new Community Services Card thresholds create inequity but falls outside the complaints provisions in the Human Rights Act.

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    30 April 2001

    It looks increasingly likely that Air NZ will sign a joint venture with airline engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney that will create over 200 aero-engineering jobs in Christchurch. Union officials say that counting support staff, the deal will eventually create about 600 jobs.

    Job growth looks to be diminishing in Australia. A TMP Worldwide survey of Australian businesses says 20% are hiring but close to 70% say they would soon shed staff. Most of these will be from businesses that have fewer than 20 workers.

    Sweden and NZ sign a reciprocal working holiday scheme. Young Swedes may now stay longer in NZ and take up incidental employment while here. NZ already has similar arrangements with Britain, Canada, Chili, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore and South Korea.

    1 May 2001

    May Day, the traditional international "Labour Day" is marked by large anti-globalisation and anti-corporate lay-off demonstrations around the world.

    The government announces that bulk funding for doctors may replace the Community Services Card system and that a dedicated health tax is mooted to fund it.

    2 May 2001

    The new Australian minimum wage is $A10.33/hr, an increase of $13 for a 40 hour week.

    3 May 2001

    Helen Clark says her ministers will not answer questions regarding Christine Rankin's lawsuit against the State Services Commission. The chief justice of the Employment Court says it would be unhelpful for judges to read ministers comments prior of the trial.

    4 May 2001

    Former CEO of the Department of Social Welfare and retiring head of the Ministry of Social Policy Margaret Bazley will take over Winz when Christine Rankin's contract ends on 5th July. Bazley will hold the position for as long as six months while a CEO for the new Ministry of Social Development is found.

    7 May 2001

    The Green Party favours making the first $7,000 all NZ'ers earn tax-free. The Green's submission to the government's tax review focuses on shifting away from taxing "good" things like work, to "bad" things like waste and pollution.

    8 May 2001

    The government's decision to end the jet fighter capabilities of the NZ armed forces will see a net of 250 people out of work. All up, 600 jobs will go but about 350 of these people will be redeployed to other jobs in the Defence Force.

    A new report, Around the Clock, quantifies that women do the same amount of work as men but are not paid for much of it. On average, men and women both work 49 hours over a seven-day week. Men get paid for 60% of that time but women get paid for only 30% of their work. The report is based on the first national time-use survey done in NZ.

    9 May 2001

    Statistics NZ releases its Quarterly Employment Survey. Unemployment is now at 5.4%. See feature in this issue.

    The Minister of Police George Hawkins launches a campaign to recruit 700 new police officers by the middle of next year.

    11 May 2001

    The ANZ job ad survey finds there were 4.1% fewer vacancies published in the print media in April than in March ... although job advertisements are 7.8% above this time last year.

    16 May 2001

    Betty Wark 1924 — 2001
    Kuia, mentor and friend. Founder of Ngati Arohanui. "Ma Betty" to thousands of Auckland's homeless young people, drug addicts and ex-prisoners.

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