No.251 17 May 2006 Essential Information on an Essential Issue

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22 April 2006

A joint Australia-NZ union campaign intends to put pressure on commercial building owners, their tenants and contractors to make more principled decisions when engaging commercial cleaning companies. "Clean Start — Fair Deal" aims to provide more secure jobs and better pay for the largely female immigrant commercial cleaning workforce. The initiative is supported by the Building Services Contractors of NZ which believes that improvements to cleaners' pay would address the high turnover rate and other issues in the highly competitive industry. Clean Start — Fair Deal has been launched in Auckland, Wellington and in the seven largest Australian cities.

24 April 2006

NZ is not putting enough resources into attracting the thousands of South Korean students who would potentially come to NZ this year. While in South Korea Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright says more promotion should be done to take advantage of the lower NZ$.

The Indian PM Manmohan Singh asks Indian business managers to voluntarily commit to greater diversity in their workforce by hiring people from social castes they wouldn't normally consider.

48% of construction companies in Scotland report skill shortages according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

25 April 2006

TVNZ is to axe up to 30 staff and not replace others who leave. The cuts will be primarily in the sales department and website unit.

More Air NZ engineers have applied for volunteer redundancy than the company wants to dismiss. The Aviation and Marine Engineers Union explains there is bitterness and uncertainty in the wake of the airline's decision to reduce its engineering operations.

In the US, factory workers who lose their jobs because their company shifts production to China are eligible for extended unemployment payments, Federal-funded re-training and relocation allowances. Factory workers have negotiated the same benefits that were already provided to computer programmes whose jobs are outsourced.

26 April 2006

Telemarketers in Australia fear big job losses in the industry following the Federal government announcement of a "do not call" register to stop unwanted telemarketing calls. Telemarketing firm Contact 1-2-1 estimates the move could cost up to 30% of telemarketing jobs.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate (782%), unemployment above 70% and shortages of fuel, food and foreign currency. Hundreds of thousands of jobless Zimbabweans are fleeing to neighbouring South Africa and beyond.

Africa is suffering from a brain drain, losing one third of its professionals to the developed world according to the UN Development Programme.

27 April 2006

Feilding will lose 140 jobs when the McCains frozen vegetable plant closes down in December. Most potato products production will move to Timaru and specialty foods like hash browns will be imported from Australia.

1 May 2006

Hong Kong is expected to be short of 100,000 skilled workers by 2007, according to its government.

The price of oil edges up to $72/barrel. Oil costs $11 more per barrel than it did four months ago.

2 May 2006

There were 8% fewer advertised job vacancies in March this year than there were a year ago. Even so, the March 2006 figures were 26% higher than they were in March 2003. The Job Vacancy Monitor - March 2006 can be downloaded from here.

Many Australians are too busy at work to take their annual leave and one result is a downturn in local tourism. Tourism Australia is launching "No Leave, No Life" to encourage workers to take their estimated accrued 70 million annual leave days.

3 May 2006

The Ministry of Justice publishes a legal opinion which shows the current Minimum Wage Law breaches the Bill of Rights.

5 May 2006

The dollar amount of student loans repayments has dropped by 24% since interest free students loans for resident NZers came into effect a month ago, according to the IRD.

An Australian Industry Group survey of employers found that skills shortages are a bigger challenge to Australian companies than the threat of competition or cheap foreign labour. 74% of those surveyed said that finding skilled staff is a barrier to their success.

6 May 2006

The total number of beneficiaries in NZ fell by 8,374 over the last year. At the end of March there were 283,584 working aged people in receipt of a benefit. There are 117,831 (-29.4%) fewer working age New Zealanders on benefits than there were in 1999.

7 May 2006

In March, the World Bank projected that by the end of 2006, 67% of the Palestinian population would be living in poverty and unemployment would reach 40%. The Bank "now considers these figures underestimates". Sanctions by the US and the EU, and Israel's refusal to release tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority has meant the Palestinian Authority has been unable to pay salaries to 165,000 public servants since March.

8 May 2006

New Zealand will need to recruit 1,300 more scientists each year for the next decade if research investment is to meet targets according to AgResearch. Chief executive Andy West says the workforce needs to be more "science literate" to ensure there is enough talent to lead New Zealand research and development once current science leaders reach retirement age. West points out that more than half New Zealand's research workforce is 45 years or older and nearly 30% of scientists are 54 years or older.

The Every Child Counts campaign is to continue. Organisers of the campaign — that was set up to persuade politicians during the 2005 election to make children central to government decision-making — say their purpose hasn't yet been achieved. The steering group says it will continue to apply the campaign's policy principles of placing children first in government planning, ensuring every child gets a good start, ending child poverty, and reducing child abuse and neglect.

11 May 2006

14 weeks of paid parental leave will be extended to include people who are self-employed from July this year.

NZ drops from 16th to 22nd place in the World Competitiveness Yearbook compiled by the Swiss-based Institute for Management Development. The IMD identifies NZ's challenges as: improving internet broadband, encouraging skilled migrants, ensuring affordable energy and water, improving workplace productivity, improving management and business capability and reducing business compliance costs.

14 May 2006

US president Bush proposed a plan to place up to 6,000 National Guard troops along the border with Mexico for at least a year to stem the influx of illegal immigrants. But he also urges Congress to address illegal immigration in a way that maintains the nation's "tradition of openness".

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  • There was strong job growth in the first quarter of this year, after a drop in the number of new jobs in the previous quarter. The economy added 23,000 new jobs … growth which the Deutsche Bank describes as "stunning".

    The workforce participation rate is now 68.5%, the highest rate ever recorded in this country. Statistics New Zealand attributes this to more women than ever joining the workforce and a rise in immigration over the period.

    But even with all the new jobs, the unemployment rate has risen from 3.6% to 3.9%. There were 8,000 more people unemployed and Statistics New Zealand says this increase has been because the large number of people (30,000) looking for work outstripped the number of new jobs.

    Bank of New Zealand economist Craig Ebert says that while the rise in unemployment gave a sense that the labour market had finally peaked, the tight labour market would be slow in easing.

    We include our regular Statistics That Matter summary and Who Got the Jobs? in this issue of The Jobs Letter. Some highlights:

    — the quarterly growth in jobs was entirely due to a rise in full-time employment

    — for the year, the number of jobs in the economy grew by 2.6%.

    — Maori unemployment has risen from 7.6% to 8.7%

    — New Zealand has the second lowest unemployment rates in the OECD

    fulltimeemploymarch06.gif - 3411 Bytesunemploymarch06.gif - 3359 Bytes
    Source — Household Labour Force Survey March 2006; Dominion Post, 12 March 2006, "Dole queue grows as job numbers rise" by James Weir; New Zealand Herald, 12 March 2006, "Growing workforce hits hob figures" by Brian Fallow.


  • winz.gif - 2825 Bytes Work & Income has changed its case management approach to one that puts the initial focus on getting all clients into a job rather than determining what sort of benefit entitlement they might have. This new service model applies not only to people who are unemployed but also to people who are likely to be eligible for a Domestic Purposes, Sickness or Invalid's Benefit. Minister of Social Development and Employment David Benson-Pope says the new service has been trialled for a year in 12 centres and during that time 90% of those who had been offered the new job-focused service took it up. The trial also found that as many as one-in-five people receiving benefits other than the unemployment benefit identified themselves as able to work. Work & Income will now treat all people who register with it as potential job seekers.

    Initially the new service will be offered only to new clients but will be extended to existing clients from September this year.

    For the first time, all Work & Income clients, including those eligible for Domestic Purposes, Sickness or Invalid's Benefits, will be offered:

    —a pre-assessment of their circumstance, needs and work readiness

    — WRK4U seminars that provide information on local labour market conditions, vacancies, employment services and income support entitlements and responsibilities

    — information, planning and preparation seminars for people who want to work but are unable to do so immediately because of constraints like caring responsibilities or illness

    — access to work brokers who link jobseekers with employers through jobz4u profiles

    — better and earlier access to employment programmes including job subsidies and training.

    benson-pope.jpg - 3171 Bytes

    Benson-Pope expects the new service will result in Domestic Purposes, Sickness and Invalid's Benefit clients being on a benefit for shorter lengths of time before moving into full-time work. He also predicts more beneficiaries would increase their earnings by taking up part-time work while still on a benefit.

    Source— Media release NZ government by David Benson-Pope, 27 May 2006, "Getting people into the right job, at the right time, right from the start"; Media release NZ government by David Benson-Pope, 27 May 2006, "Launch of Work and Income's new service approach.


  • The mortality for Maori aged 25-59 is twice that of non-Maori — and much of the reason for this is socio-economic disadvantages. A new University of Otago study of mortality rates during the 1980s and 1990s — concludes that inequalities in socio-economic resources account for about half of the difference in mortality between Maori and non-Maori. Decades of Disparity I, released in 2003, argued that the increasing Pakeha advantage in access to and power over socio-economic resources was the primary cause of the widening gaps in mortality between Maori and Pakeha. This statement generated a lot of debate at the time, but this final follow-up report largely supports this argument.

    Among the socio-economic factors, a key variable is employment. This fits with the large increases in unemployment in the late 1980s and early 1990s that impacted disproportionately upon Maori.

    Decades of Disparity III authors say the findings reinforce the need to take both socio-economic position and ethnicity into account in health funding formulas and that there needs to be a sustained long-term commitment from government to help reduce inequalities between ethnic groups. co-author Tony Blakely. "That's why we're looking for a sustained political commitment not just from the present government but from successive governments to ensure that both ethnicity and socio-economic status continue to factor in the funding of health programmes."

    decadesofdepair3.jpg - 5239 Bytes

    Decades of Disparity III:
    Ethnic and Socioeconomic Inequalities in Mortality,
    New Zealand 1981-1999,

    May 2006,

    — published by the Ministry of Health, ISBN 0-478-29912-5 (Book), ISBN 0-478-29913-3 (Website) can be downloaded (91pg, 958Kb) from here.

    Source — Media release University of Otago, 8 May 2006, "Socio-economic status half the story in ethnic death rate differences"; media release New Zealand Government by Pete Hodgson, 8 May 2006, "Employment key in reducing health inequalities".


  • Heart disease death rates in New Zealand have fallen 60% since the 1960s but the rate of heart disease in people born after 1951 is on the increase, especially in Maori and lower socio-economic groups. In Heart Health has an Adverse Future Forecast in New Zealand, the medical director of the Heart Foundation Norman Sharpe says that people on low-incomes have two to three times the rate of heart disease as those on the high-incomes. And heart disease among middle-aged Maori men is four times the rate of non-Maori or Pacific men. Sharpe: "The task of turning back the oncoming wave of heart disease will require leadership as well as sustained, co-ordinated and effective action across a range of governmental and non-governmental agencies and providers."

    Heart health has an adverse future forecast in New Zealand by Norman Sharpe, 21 April 2006, can be downloaded (4pg, 88Kb) from here.
    Source — Dominion Post, 21 April 2006, "'Alarming' rise in heart disease death rates" _ NZPA


  • Low-income is also a key factor among families whose children suffer from respiratory diseases. Trying to Catch Our Breath, a study produced for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of NZ explores the social context of respiratory disease and how factors such as housing, income, access to health care, nutrition and immunisation have contributed to New Zealand's poor respiratory health status.

    Co-editor Innes Asher says that income has long been widely recognised as the most important health determinant. The cumulative effects of long-term inadequate nutrition, crowded substandard housing and living conditions, and unaffordable or inaccessible primary health care over the last 15-20 years have taken a lasting toll on the health of hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children. Asher: "New Zealand children have very high rates of preventable diseases and injury compared with other similar countries like the UK and Australia, which have more generous economic support for families with children. Until the poor economic situation of New Zealand children in poverty is addressed, this alarming situation is likely to continue into the next decades.

    The report's 36 key recommendations include introducing an obligation on the government to monitor and report on child poverty and creating strategies and a time-line to reduce and eliminate child poverty. It also calls to strengthen the New Zealand housing strategy to provide sufficient resources to enable universal access for children to uncrowded, insulated and affordable housing. It also recommends that resources be provided for the easily accessible, free primary health care, 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and free prescriptions for children and young people.

    ttcob.jpg - 10052 Bytes

    Trying to catch our breath
    the burden of preventable breathing diseases in children and
    young people,,

    19 April 2006,

    — published by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, ISBN 0-473-10881-X, can be downloaded —
    summary (30pg, 1.7Mb) or full document (100pg, 6.7Mb) from here.


  • oconnor.jpg - 4584 Bytes The government aims to get 60% of prisoners into work or training according to its Prisoner Employment Strategy. The plan is to re-establish nursery, horticulture and community work-gang projects which had been axed in recent years (see Jobs Letter No 247). Other initiatives include plans to encourage industries to adopt prisoner training initiatives both inside and outside prisons. Minister of Corrections Damien O'Connor says the intention is to reduce prisoner re-offending by increasing the use of employment, vocational and drug and alcohol programmes. He says the importance of prisoner employment is obvious given that less than half of sentenced prisoners had paid jobs before entering prison.

  • National Party spokesperson Simon Power says he is disappointed that after seven years of running prison employment schemes down, the Prisoner Employment Strategy was all the government could produce. Power points out that under the Labour government the number of inmates on work schemes has dropped to one-in-five, the work scheme budget cut from $46 million to $30 million and prisoners work an average 12.9 hours per week compared with 18.1 hours per week in 2002.
    Source — New Zealand Herald, 12 May 2006, "Plan for more work and fewer prisoners" by Ruth Berry; Media release, NZ govt by Damien O'Connor, 11 May 2006, "New strategy to get more prisoners into work"; Media release National Party, 11 May 2006, "Prisoner work strategy a load of waffle".


  • petrolpump.jpg - 3789 Bytes Higher petrol prices will be a "powerful force" affecting New Zealanders' consumer spending and will slow the economy according to ANZ Bank economists. The bank expects the domestic economy to turn "decidedly negative" this month primarily due to petrol price hikes. When petrol rose above $1.50 per litre in September 2005, demand for cars collapsed and household spending diminished. Petrol is now above $1.70 per litre.

  • The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) points out that higher petrol prices have numerous flow-on effects. The most direct one is that as businesses spend more on fuel, they eventually have to pass their higher costs on by increasing the prices they charge for their goods and services. This leaves households with less spending power because the things they buy cost more and a greater proportion of their income is being used to fill their own car with petrol. The CTU says that some people will switch to public transport, but at a more general level the impact will be higher inflation for an initial period, and then lower economic growth as the higher fuel costs dampen economic activity. Eventually higher fuel costs will affect cash flow and impact on business investment and hiring decisions.
    Source — Dominion Post, 25 April 2006, "Petrol blues hit confidence" by James Weir; CTU Monthly Economic Bulletin No 68 (April 2006).


  • The Ministry of Education has done a study on how the size of a person's student loan effects their decision to live overseas. Do Student Loans Drive People Overseas _ What is the Evidence? confirmed the widely held assumption that the larger the student loan, the greater the likelihood borrower lives overseas. Borrowers with a student loan "leaving balance" above $8,000 were more likely to be overseas five years after finishing their study than those with a balance below $8,000. Senior research analyst Warren Smart says there is a diversity of factors influencing the decision of people to live overseas, but the research shows that the size of the student debt is a statistically significant factor.

    Other conclusions drawn by the study include that borrowers who had attained higher qualifications are more likely to be living overseas. People who studied at the doctoral level were the most likely to be overseas while those who had studied at institutes of technology and polytechnics were less likely to be overseas. Borrowers older than age 35 were less likely to be overseas five years after leaving study than those younger. And Maori and Pasifika borrowers were less likely than their European counterparts to be overseas.

    dostudentloans.jpg - 10658 Bytes

    Do student loans drive people overseas -
    what is the evidence?

    April 2006,

    — published by Ministry of Education, ISBN (Web) 0-478-13460-6; (Print) 0-478-13459-2 can be downloaded in Word or PDF from here.

    Source — media release NZ govt, 2 May 2006 "Loans one of many factors driving student OE"


  • nznow.jpg - 5302 Bytes The government is extending the New Zealand Now campaign to focus on New Zealanders living in Australia. The campaign was launched late last year (see Jobs Letter No 243) and aimed to attract New Zealanders living in the United Kingdom to come back to live. It is now targeting the estimated 455,000 New Zealanders living in Australia.

    Department of Labour research shows that New Zealanders who have been living in Australia for more than two years tend to lose touch with what is going on back home. The Minister of Immigration David Cunliffe says New Zealand Now is about creating awareness about the changing New Zealand lifestyle and employment opportunities. Cunliffe: "These people are an ideal source of talent to sustain economic growth and to help employers who are crying out for skilled people. We need these people to ensure continued economic growth in this country."

  • National Party spokesperson John Key argues that the New Zealanders living in Australia aren't going to be lured back by a $400,000 "clumsy advertising drive". Key maintains that bringing people home is not the issue — the issue is staunching the flow of 680 people per week that are leaving New Zealand.

    — The New Zealand Now campaigned website can be found here.

    Source — Media release New Zealand Government by David Cunliffe, 11 May 2006, "Expat programme expands to Kiwis in Australia"; Media release National Party by John Key, 11 May 2006, "Labour whistling in wind over expat campaign"; Media release Department of Labour, 11 May 2006, "Expats programme moves to Australia".


  • muttartlogo.gif - 10784 Bytes If the New Zealand voluntary sector shut down, key infrastructure would probably collapse according to visiting Canadian Bob Wyatt of the Muttart Foundation. Wyatt points out there is an estimated 60,000 voluntary organisations in New Zealand that provide a huge range of services, many of whom support government policy or deliver government programmes. Wyatt says that without this voluntary sector, the government couldn't afford to deliver key services. He says every dollar provided to a voluntary agency typically delivers $3 -$5 of services to the community.

    Wyatt says that despite the dependence of the government on community organisations, it takes little if any notice of the impact that legislation or events, such as spiralling fuel costs, have on the voluntary sector. He says both sides need to sit down and listen to one another to create better efficiencies and services.

    Source — Dominion Post, 3 May 2006, "Volunteers `keep country from collapse'", by Anna Chalmers.


  • adaidlogo.jpg - 6857 Bytes A website is up and running that is designed to help community service organisations get professional assistance to develop their public relations campaign. AdAid provides a place where community groups can meet with agencies who are capable doing such work — and are willing do it pro bono as part of their own community service.

    AdAid provides community groups with a process it calls AA101 that helps them create a clear outline of what they want to achieve in terms of their public identity, advertising campaign, website or promotional campaign. Once AdAid assesses the outline as being of a standard that an ad agency would expect of any commercial client — it is uploaded to the AdAid website. From there it can be viewed by participating advertising and communications agencies who may select briefs that interests them. The agency then makes contact with the community group about taking on the project. If both decide to go ahead, the project can proceed just like any commercial project the agency would do. Once complete, the advertising agency contacts appropriate media organisations in order to get the advertising or promotional campaign out in front of the public.

    — AdAid can be found here.


  • The 20 hours of free weekly childcare for working families comes with a maximum of six hours of childcare per day per child. Minister of Education Steve Maharey says the six-hour cap was selected because early childhood education was better spread throughout a week, rather than in full days. Maharey: "Everybody agrees it's the best way to deliver it."

    But not everyone does agree. Early Childhood Council chief executive Sue Thorne says she can't understand the rationale behind the decision to have a daily maximum. If a parent wants to work two eight-hour days, they will not get the full subsidy, but if they works four days a week, they will. Thorne points out that some employers are flexible, but the six-hour limit will penalise those people whose employers are not.

  • The major part of the early childhood policy that hasn't yet been announced is the rate at which centres will be paid to provide the free-to-families childcare service. New Zealand Childcare Association chief executive Nancy Bell says her members are anxious to know what the funding rate will be and how it will work. Without those details, it is difficult for them to plan. Bell: "We all think it's positive and it's fantastic there will be extra funding around, but some people are understandably anxious about what the rate will be."
    Source — Dominion Post, 29 April 2006, "Strings attached to free childcare" by Sophie Neville and Kristi Gray


  • The number of foreign students in New Zealand decreased in 2005 and earnings from international students dropped to below $2 billion for the first time since they reached that level three years ago. Education New Zealand, an association of "education exporters" says there were 13% fewer foreign students in 2005 than there were in 2004. Income for the industry has dropped by $280 million.

    The Ministry of Tourism says the drop in foreign student numbers cost the economy even more — its figures showed a 39% ($438 million) drop in spending by international students and their families. Even so, foreign students contributed $1.89 billion to the New Zealand economy in 2005 making the industry New Zealand's third largest export earner, only behind tourism and dairy.

  • The tide of foreign students may come in again this year. The NZ Trade Commissioner to South Korea Andrew French says the recent fall in the dollar has made New Zealand a more attractive place for Koreans to go to study. French expects the number of Koreans going to New Zealand to increase by 10% - 20% this year.

    However, French is concerned about the lack of resources behind the promotion to increase Korean student numbers. He says Australia puts much greater resources into attracting foreign students than does New Zealand.

    Source — New Zealand Herald, 4 May 2006, "Earnings from foreign students at three-year low" by Stuart Dye; Dominion Post, 3 May 2006 2006, "Foreign students spend $280m less" by Sue Allen; Dominion Post, 25 April 2006, "Fall in dollar may lure more students" by Dan Eaton and Rebecca Palmer.


  • immigrants.jpg - 10830 Bytes May Day in the United States saw an estimated one million illegal Hispanic migrants and their supporters walk off their jobs. "A Day Without Immigrants" saw factories closed, few workers filling casual labouring day-jobs, restaurants stripped of staff and school children staying away from school in order to join marches on city halls and state capitals across the country. The demonstrations not only called attention to the magnitude of the illegal immigrant numbers, it also illustrated how fundamental their labour is to the running of the country. There is an estimated 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the United States — and most of them are working.

    The demonstrations come at a time when there are two contradictory Bills before the Congress. One would make just being illegally in the United States a felony offence. The other would create a guest worker programme that would allow illegal immigrants a chance to earn US citizenship.

  • The issue is an emotive one for many Americans, but polls indicate a majority support for the guest worker approach. The New York Times editorial: "The worst among our citizens and politicians are eager to depict illegal immigrants as criminals, potential terrorists and alien invaders. But what we saw yesterday, in huge, peaceful rallies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Denver, New York, Atlanta and other cities, were regular people. If these extraordinarily positive events were a protest of anything, it was the idea of the immigrant as temporary and unwelcome guest worker. The marches flew in the face of theories that undocumented workers want nothing but to labour unnoticed and separate from the nation that employs them to make its meals, trim its hedges and slaughter its beef. These immigrants, weary of silent servitude, are speaking up and asking for something simple: a chance to work to become citizens, with all the obligations and opportunities that go with it."
    Source — Dominion Post, 2 May 2006, "Immigrants flex economic muscle in US", Reuters; Source - New Zealand Herald, 3 May 2006, "US immigration impasse remains despite protests" by Donna Smith


  • Hawken06.gif - 14594 Bytes American entrepreneur Paul Hawken is soon to publish his latest book "Blessed Unrest" (Viking/Penguin 2006) and release a film documentary of the same name. In the book, Hawken suggests that the world is seeing the beginning of a new type of movement for civil society — composed of hundreds of thousands of community and not-for-profit groups and social entrepreneurs.

    Hawken's Natural Capital Institute has done research which shows that millions of people with shared sets of values are involved in countless organizations that address social justice, ecological sustainability and indigenous rights in the broadest sense of those terms. The New York Times has dubbed this worldwide movement "the Other Superpower"— which may be a belated recognition of a phenomenon that is emerging on a scale unseen in human history, and is changing the very nature of civil society. And the power of this movement is that it is not directed.

    Hawken: "These hundreds of thousands of groups are beginning to morph, unknowingly, into the world's largest social and political movement … it represents humanity's immune response to political corruption, economic disease and ecological degradation. It is hard to say how big it is … it is a movement that doesn't know that it's a movement..."

    — The Natural Capital Institute website can be found here.

    Source — Paul Hawken website at www.naturalcapital.org; also interview with Paul Hawken in Value, Vol 1 Issue 1 (16 April 2006)

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