No.171 30 August 2002 Essential Information on an Essential Issue

OUR DIARY of key events over the last few weeks.

WHO'S WHO 2002
We list the 2002 line-up of Ministers with employment and social services portfolios, and also the spokespeople from other parties.

What do NZ First and United Future believe in when it comes to employment issues? We would like to know too.

Susan St John of the Child Poverty Action Group says that the “good intentions” behind a Commission for the Family are not enough ... we need wider discussion of its intentions.

Winz is to bring its job-matching services into the internet age. Jobseekers will soon be able to make direct contact with job opportunities.

The Department of Labour is establishing a Future of Work research fund, and is looking for research proposals.

TMP Business Consulting have completed their research report on Youth Employment in NZ.

Philanthropy NZ reports that the total funding to the community sector comes to more than $1.6 billion annually.

The Catholic Church’s Social Justice Week will focus on the theme of refugees and migrants.

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6 August 2002

Air NZ is advertising to attract 150 more aircraft engineers. Australian and northern hemisphere airlines now make up about half of the workload for Air NZ’s aircraft maintenance business.

An article in Salient, the Victoria University student magazine, includes a guide for students on how to marry in order to receive a student allowance. Married students under 25 years old qualify for a student allowance while single students — whose parents’ income is more than $28,080 — do not.

7 August 2002

US president Bush says that his new powers to negotiate trade agreements will increase economic growth. Bush: “Trade is an important source of good jobs for our workers and a source of higher growth for our economy.”

Act MP Muriel Newman complains that Employment Minister is refusing to give her information in response to parliamentary questions about the Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (Pace) scheme, which gives artists the dole while they concentrate on their art. Newman believes the scheme is trapping recipients on welfare.

8 August 2002

Labour leader Helen Clark announces that Labour and the Progressive Coalition will operate a minority government with United Future promising to vote with the government on issues of confidence and money supply for the next three years.

9 August 2002

35 people have been banned from Wellington region Winz offices following incidents of threatening behaviour, damaging property or assault. Banned clients can nominate a person to act on their behalf.

11 August 2002

Student debt is being blamed for a chronic shortage of veterinarians. Murray Gibb of the NZ Veterinarian Association says that the average vet graduate has $36,000 of debt. Higher salaries and the low value of the NZ dollar means that many graduates are leaving for Australia and the UK to work.

While there were nearly 20,000 more workers employed in the health sector this year, the Health Workforce Advisory Group says that they are still not meeting demand. The staff increases have been generally in community services, part-time and temporary workers.

12 August 2002

100 jobs go at the BHP NZ Steel mill in Glenbrook. The job cuts are blamed on the 30% tariff imposed earlier this year by the US on imported steel products.

14 August 2002

The NZ Council of Trade Unions calls to raise the minimum wage to $10/hr and to abolish the youth minimum wage. The adult minimum wage is currently $8/hr and the youth rate is $6.40/hr.

After months of laying-off staff without making any public acknowledgement, the IBM Corporation says it is in the process of cutting 15,600 jobs from its global workforce.

15 August 2002

Act MP Deborah Coddington says that, in calling for a lift to the minimum wage, the CTU “couldn’t care less about NZ’ers struggling to get ahead” Coddington: “When the boot of Government stamps on the aspirations of business, the first to suffer are the community's poorest. Employers can't hire more staff if flexibility and choice are replaced with increased taxes and compliance costs.”

16 August 2002

Teachers at state kindergartens accept an offer that will bring them to pay parity with primary and secondary teachers by 2006. The five-stage pay parity schedule does not apply to the staff of the 80% of pre-schools that are privately run.

Only 10% of people who change jobs do it for an increase in pay. Recruitment consultancy Robert Walters says most workers leave because they either see another firm as offering better career prospects or they were seeking new challenges.

18 August 2002

The forestry industry and its staffing needs are expected to increase threefold over the next three to five years. Forestry companies are already finding it difficult to find workers. Consultant Bruce Willis says that in Gisborne, the problem is not a lack of numbers, but of skilled workers. Central North Island workers are reportedly being lured to away to work in Northland, Gisborne and the Hawke’s Bay.

The University Students Association reports that women graduating with a 1-year certificate from polytechnic will take an average of 23 years to repay their student loan.

KPMG Consulting hopes to employ an additional 100 – 200 software developers in NZ by the end of 2003. Managing director Thomas Gary says they intend to do more work in-house rather than having it done in India. While NZ software development costs are about 10% higher than in India, the NZ costs are one-third of that in the US.

In Argentina, unemployment is now estimated to be at 21.5% and 36 million people are living in poverty. An advertising campaign by the New South Wales government to attract doctors to work in the outback from NZ, UK, US, Ireland and Canada has had just two responses.

Tourism Industry CEO John Moriarty is critical of local authorities who are calling for powers to tax tourism in their local areas. Moriarty says tourism taxes would lead to job reductions.

19 August 2002

Some university students have reportedly used their interest-free student loan money to invest in the share market. A Ministry of Education spokesperson says there was no evidence that indicated the practice was widespread and that the take up rate for student loans has not increased since the interest free loan policy was implemented.

20 August 2002

Finding young people with the skills to become an electrician is becoming more difficult, according to Ian Nunn whose job it is to fill electrical training places in the central North Island. Nunn says that electricians are getting older and not enough young people are taking up the trade.

21 August 2002

As many as 2,000 mentally ill people are homeless, and another 8,000 cannot find affordable or suitable accommodation according to Mental Health and Independent Housing Needs published by the Ministry of Social Development.

22 August 2002

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton says he welcomes the establishment of the Auckland Regional Development Strategy group — which is the first time that every local authority in Auckland has co-operated on a large-scale, regional economic development initiative. Anderton also says he is making Auckland a priority for economic development in this term of office ... after having concentrated on the provincial regions of New Zealand over the last two years.

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— Labour-Progressive Coalition Government Executive

  • EARLIER THIS MONTH, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the line-up of the new Labour-Progressive Coalition executive.
    Labour’s Maori MPs have secured six posts in the new line-up, and the full list of 28 ministers and undersecretaries makes this executive the biggest Ministerial grouping since 1990.
    The 2002 line-up of employment and social services portfolios includes:

    Ministers within Cabinet
    Jim Anderton
    Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industry and Regional Development.
    Steve Maharey
    Minister of Social Services and Employment, Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education). Minister Responsible for Transition Tertiary Education Commission.
    Parekura Horomia
    Minister of Maori Affairs, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment, Education, Fisheries, Forestry.
    Paul Swain
    Minister for Small Business, Associate Minister of Finance, Revenue and Economic Development.
    Ruth Dyson
    Minister for ACC, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Minister for Disability Issues, Associate Minister for Social Services and Employment.
    John Tamihere
    Minister of Youth Affairs, Associate Minister of Maori Affairs, Commerce and Small Business.
    Chris Carter
    Minister of Local Government

    Ministers outside Cabinet
    Tariana Turia
    Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Associate Minister of Maori Affairs (Social Development), Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment (Social Services)
    Rick Barker
    Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment.
    Dover Samuels
    Associate Minister for Economic Development, Associate Minister for Industry and Regional Development.

    Parliamentary under-secretary
    Taito Phillip Field
    Parliamentary under-secretary to the Minister of Social Services and Employment.


    National Party
    Katherine Rich (Social Services and Employment), John Carter (Regional Development), Brian Connell (Associate Regional Development),

    New Zealand First
    Brian Donnelly (Education), Winston Peters (Economic Development), Jim Peters (Local Government, Regional Development), Barbara Stewart (Family, Social Services, Industry Training)

    Muriel Newman (Welfare), Donna Awatere Huata (Employment), Rodney Hide (Associate Welfare), Deborah Coddington (Business Development, Industry, Regional Development)

    Green Party
    Sue Bradford (Community & Volunteer Sector, Community Economic Development, Employment, Social Services), Rod Donald (Regional Development)

    United Future
    Paul Adams (Employment, Industry & Regional Development), Judy Turner (Social Services)


  • The Jobs Letter editors admit being as surprised as anyone when watching the spectacular crumbling of support for the National Party in the last election and the consequent rise in popularity of the smaller parties New Zealand First (10.38% of the vote and 13 seats) and United Future (6.69% of the votes and 8 seats). A common question asked in the weeks following the election was: Just what do these parties really believe in?

    With NZ First, we did contact the party before the election to ask them to fill out their policy platform in terms of employment issues (see special issue of The Jobs Letter No.168), but — unlike every other party — they never got back to us. NZ First really only campaigned on three issues during the election —”fixing up” the immigration mess, the Treaty of Waitangi “industry”, and law and order.

    Given their thirteen parliamentary seats, we thought we would try again for this issue ... but unfortunately, despite our phonecalls and emails, we got the same lack of response.

  • For our special election issue, The Jobs Letter editors completely ignored United Future in terms of asking them our standard employment policy questions ... yes, we certainly got that wrong! So, as with NZ First, we thought we’d give the party a chance to flesh out their policies in the light of their electoral success.

    But it seems they were also unable to give us any detail.

    The United Future staff at least wrote and told us they were unable to make our deadline. They told us that things have “been extremely mad around here over the past few days ...” as parliament was just starting up again and new staff were being appointed. The party has however appointed a spokesperson on employment issues, Paul Adams (who is eighth on their party list).

  • Apart from this, we were pointed to United Future’s 6-paragraph Industrial Relations policies from the election campaign. This included such things as:

    — Promoting “a modern, flexible labour market that is stable. [...] We will not indulge in the political ping-pong associated with this issue.”

    — Increasing workforce skills by getting more people into industry training. “We will aim to increase the numbers involved in formal industry training to 160,000 per year by 2005.”

    — Improving workplace literacy. “Currently 20% of New Zealand adults have insufficient literacy skills to hold down a job.”

    Source –comment from The Jobs Letter Editors; emails to and from NZ First and United Future August 2002


  • United Future has campaigned as the party that is “focussing on families”, and “... will not let ideology get in the way of common sense and good policies.”

    As part of its support for confidence and supply to the Labour government over the next three years, the party has won support for a Commission for the Family which will take into consideration the United Future policy platforms.

    Susan St John of the Child Poverty Action Group argues that these family policy platforms deserve thorough and critical scrutiny. She says that the “good intentions” behind the policies are not enough, and there needs to be a proper cost benefit analysis of the new Commission and a wider discussion of the purpose or the need for it before it proceeds.

    St John: “There are already academic centres in various universities for the child and family, to say nothing of the research projects already undertaken at great expense in the Ministry of Social Development. How much costly duplication is going to be involved? How much is the structure itself going to cost to run and staff? Will it mean the income improvements for families, that must occur if the costs of child poverty are to be averted, will be delayed yet again while the Commission is being established?”

  • Instead of a Commission, the Child Poverty Action Group is calling for an immediate action plan from the government to address family issues. This action plan could include

    — Extending the Child Tax Credit of fifteen dollars per child per week to all low-income families. (Cost: around $250m)
    — Adjusting Family Support, and the income thresholds from which Family Support starts to reduce, for the cost of living over the past decade. (Cost: around $250m)
    — Raising the threshold that can be earned by each beneficiary before losing their benefit almost dollar for dollar, from $80 to $130 dollars to compensate for inflation.
    — Placing an obligation on the IRD to ensure families access their tax credits.
    — Giving all children under 18 access to free health and dental care including after hours services and prescriptions.
    — Indexing all family-related payments, including health subsidies.
    — Adopting an official measure of poverty, and monitoring it on a regular basis to ensure progress is being made to eliminating child poverty.
    Source – Press Release Child Poverty Action Group (Susan St John) 13 August 2002 “Good Intentions Are Not Enough”


  • ACT MP Muriel Newman is also not holding out big hopes for the Commission. Newman: “If this new bureaucracy is true to form, it will do little to improve the future lot of families in this country. With the government taking more than 40% of the country’s wealth, poor families — especially those with children — are struggling to get by. That’s why lowering taxes has to be the way of the future, to raise the incomes of these families, as well as to improve our standard of living. “

    ACT is also calling for the government to abandon its plans for a Commission, and instead adopt a proactive plan to improve the lot of families. For Newman, this would include: scrapping the Independent Youth Benefit; transforming the DPB into a stepping-stone to work; introducing Shared Parenting and opening up the Family Court; encouraging adoption; as well as lowering taxes to lift the disposable incomes of families.

    Source — “The Politics of Family” by Muriel Newman’s, weekly column (email distribution) 26 August 2002


  • Winz is soon to bring its job-matching services into the internet age. Next year, it should also be possible for people to apply for unemployment and domestic purposes benefits and student allowances over the web. The new system will also take Winz out of the brokering role (for those who have access to the internet) and will allow jobseekers to apply directly when they see a vacancy they think suits them.

    Winz will try to match the existing services provided by many privately-run Net recruitment agencies. It plans to allow jobseekers to store their CV on the Winz database which can then be forwarded electronically to an employer. The new services will also provide self-assessment tools to help jobseekers gauge their suitability for a position.

  • Prior to the establishment of Winz, physical job-boards that listed job vacancies were a feature of every Employment Service centre in the country. As part of the movement towards a corporate “look” in Winz offices, all job boards were ordered removed in the late 90’s. Without job-boards, and with few publicly available computers in Winz offices, jobseekers had little if any reason to call in at their Winz office unless they had an appointment with their case manager.

    At an appointment, the case manager (or “work broker”) could access the vacancy database on their computer terminal. If a suitable job was found, the case manager would provide an introduction for the jobseeker to the employer. Currently, a jobseeker can view the job vacancy database from a home computer. The information available is the general title of the job, whether it is temporary or permanent, the hours, pay rate, skills requirements and where it is located. But in order to apply for a job, the jobseeker must contact their case manager to get the specifics about the name of the company and whom to contact for an interview.

  • The new online services may eventually become part of the new labour market information “portal” which will act as an internet one-stop-shop for information on labour market research and careers in different regions. This $2.8m government initiative (announced in the last Budget) will mean enhancing the KiwiCareers website and including more information on the current skills needed in the NZ economy. Economics forecasters Infometrics and BERL are developing an occupational and skill forecasting model for the website which will be used to supplement the “outlooks” currently produced by Careers Services.

    — For more information see www.work.govt.nz

    Source—The Dominion Post Infotech 19 August 2002 “Internet service for job-seekers” by Tom Pullar-Strecker; Steve Maharey Backgrounder on the Skills Information Action Plan (www.work.govt.nz).


  • The Department of Labour is establishing a Future of Work Research Fund to “gather, produce and disseminate non-partisan information to enable people involved in the world of work to plan better for the future.” The Fund ($150,000 for the 2002/03 financial year) will support research proposals that are associated with the following topics:

    — The evolution of skills and occupations
    — Labour force participation rates
    — Work-life balance issues
    — Economic growth and labour market outcomes

    The Department is particularly interested in sponsoring proposals to investigate how these issues impact Maori labour market outcomes. Deadline for Proposals is 1st October 2002. Projects funded in this financial year will need to be completed by 31st May 2003. For more information, contact william.dillingham@lmpg.dol.govt.nz

    Source — Request for Proposal forms from Labour Market Policy Group (LMPG)


  • TMP Business Consulting have completed their research report on Youth Employment for the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development. (The NZBCSD — which includes many NZ business leaders such as Fonterra and The Warehouse — has entered into a partnership with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs and wants to “lead NZ business in their role of ensuring current employment or training for all young NZ’ers by 2005”).

    The TMP research report will be used by Business Council members and by Mayors in fostering an understanding of the causes of youth unemployment, and developing an awareness of the impact on business. The report brings together current data on youth employment and unemployment in NZ, as well as the results of a survey of Schools Careers Advisors, and the opinions of focus groups run in a selection of Auckland secondary schools.

    The research report will contribute to the publication of a guide and a website that the Business Council hopes will educate businesses on the issues of youth unemployment, motivate them to accept the challenge of youth employment, and equip them with the necessary tools and resources to take on the challenge. This project should be completed by the end of this year.

    TMP Research Report on Youth Employment, July 2002, can be downloaded (31 pg, 1.7MB) from the NZBCSD website at www.nzbcsd.org.nz/project.asp?ProjectID=7

  • Richard Lauder, CEO of Christchurch-based City Care and Jacquie Sherborne, HR Manager of Fonterra last month addressed the Local Government NZ Conference about the Youth Employment project, and gave “the business case” for participation in these issues.

    Some of the youth employment initiatives envisaged by Business Council members may include: member businesses reporting against youth employment targets; employer mentoring; employer representation on school Boards of Trustees; school partnerships; sponsoring training courses and equipment; funding training delivery; scholarships, competitions and awards; employer organisations acting as hiring brokers; linking with school’s careers advisory services; and involvement in pre-apprenticeship work skills programmes.

    — Powerpoint summaries of the NZBCSD presentations to the Local Government NZ Conference are available at www.nzbcsd.org.nz/story.asp?StoryID=153

    Source – “Youth Employment Research Report” presented to the NZ Council for Sustainable Development (July 2002) by tmp.worldwide; www.nzbcsd.org.nz


  • Philanthropy NZ reports that the total funding to the community sector comes to more than $1.6 billion annually. This includes all funding from central and local government, philanthropic trusts, gaming and lotteries, personal donations, and bequests.

    Central government funding accounted for 56% ($920m), while personal donations from the public made up 17% ($282m). The proceeds of gambling contributed 14% ($222m) to the total, with philanthropic and grant making trusts making up a further 9% ($143m)of funding.

    Philanthropy NZ says that health and social services, followed by sport and recreation, then education and research are the biggest recipients of philanthropic and local government community funding. Two thirds of the proceeds from gambling fund the sport and recreation sector, and a further quarter fund health and welfare.

    — The full Philanthropy NZ report (cost: $35.00) can be ordered from Jolly Fernandes phone 04-499-4090
    email jolly@philanthropy.org.nz.

    Source – Philanthropy NZ newsletter August 2002 “Funding to Community Sector more than $1.6 billion annually”; also Philanthropy NZ website at www.philanthropy.org.nz


  • September 15-21 is the Catholic Church’s Social Justice Week, and this year they are focussing on the theme of refugees and migrants in New Zealand. As in previous years, Caritas (the Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development) has published a discussion booklet.

    Caritas believes that all aspects of NZ society — community, business and government — should work with new settlers to ensure that they are able to find meaningful employment. From the booklet: “Employment is a major concern for new settlers. It is a key element necessary in the reconstruction of their lives, in regaining a sense of identity and of self-worth, and in integrating successfully into the community. In working environments people develop their language skills, broaden their understanding of “kiwi” society, develop crucial community networks, and, if they are lucky, develop further skills in their area of expertise.

    “ Through employment, new settlers are able to contribute in a meaningful way to the country that has offered them refuge or welcomed them as labour migrants. They often view employment as a way in which they can repay the hospitality they have received from their new country. For those who are unemployed, there are feelings of frustration, even shame and guilt.“

    “Welcoming the Stranger: Refugees and Migrants in the Modern World” by Susan Atkin and Louise May for Caritas Aotearoa, (cost: $4.50) available from P.O.Box 12-193, Thorndon, Wellington or caritas@caritas.org.nz


  • As we go to press, the government department briefing papers to the incoming government are starting to appear on the internet. We’ll include a full list of links in our next issue.

    Here are the Briefing papers for Jim Anderton’s Ministry of Economic Development and Industry NZ:


    On the Earth Summit 2002 in Johannesburg:

    “ The rich world is approaching the point at which “satiation turns into deprivation”. Even if we were to forget the damage our growing economies inflict upon the environment, even if we were to ignore the conflict between our greed and the fulfilment of other people’s needs, we should be able to see that economic growth in nations which are rich enough already is a disaster.

    “ Environmentalists have been fudging this issue for far too long. We have been demanding an accommodation between the unreconcilable objectives of ever-increasing wealth and environmental protection, an accommodation we call “sustainable development”.

    “ We know that the world is already rich enough to meet all real human needs, but that this wealth is not trickling down from rich to poor. We know that while there is a desperate need for redistribution, further growth in the rich world is likely to make everyone more miserable. We know that wealth has been romanticised. Yet we are afraid to ask for what we really want.

    “ Unless we are brave enough to confront the notion that growth is good, the world will shop until it drops.”

    — George Monbiot
    from his article “What do we really want?” The Guardian 27 August 2002 ( available at www.monbiot.com)

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    We are funded by sustaining grants and donations. Yes, you can help.