No.253 30 June 2006 Essential Information on an Essential Issue

of key events over the last few weeks.



















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7 June 2006

Nearly 50 frontline staff are to be added to the Child Youth and Family, the government social agency, as it establishes a specialist youth justice team.

68 young people graduate from Work & Income's public service cadetship scheme.

US food producing corporation HJ Heinz, parent company of Australasian-based Heinz Watties, plans to close 15 factories and cut 2,700 jobs. NZ operations are unlikely to be affected.

It appears that about one-quarter of construction workers rebuilding hurricane-damaged New Orleans are illegal migrants. University of California researchers looking into labour issues surrounding the massive rebuilding programme also found that one-third of these illegal workers are dealing with hazardous substances without protective clothing or equipment and they are paid far less than their legal counterparts.

8 June 2006

Unemployment in Australian dips to a 30-year low of 4.9%. The increased job numbers are largely full-time positions.

More and more call centres are being re-located in Africa where the number of call centre workers is accelerating. Egypt is now ranked 12th in the world as offshore outsourcing destinations by consultants AT Kearney.

9 June 2006

Switzerland, NZ, Australia and Canada have the highest rates of legal immigration in the OECD.

10 June 2006

The Buy Kiwi-Made campaign is "parochial and self-limiting" according to the owner of clothing manufacturer Icebreaker. Jeremy Moon, whose products are made overseas, calls the campaign well intentioned but misguided and that the issue of where something was made is irrelevant to customers. Moon: "The nationality of the product for our overseas customers is determined by brand identity and where the company comes from".

11 June 2006

More than 300 Auckland industry-training graduates attend a graduation ceremony. Mayor Dick Hubbard says the civic ceremony is a way for the Council to recognise the important role participating employers play in developing Auckland city's skills base and expanding youth employment opportunities.

12 June 2006

The Human Rights Commission sets up a reference group including tradespeople, educators and trade unionists to work on a strategy to improve the diversity of the Modern Apprenticeships scheme. The scheme has seen the number of apprentices grow to over 8,000 participants per year, but women make up only 8%, Maori 14% and Pacific peoples 2% prompting concerns that the scheme may be reinforcing workplace stereotypes.

A shortage of skilled staff is now the biggest barrier to business expansion in London according to the latest CBI London Business Survey.

13 June 2006

Builders who were asking $35/hr are now demanding $60/hr or more due to the shortage of specialised builders, according to Registered Master Builders Federation.

The Burmese crew of a fishing boat moored at the Port of Timaru allege physical mistreatment and non-payment from their Korean officers. This is the same Korean registered boat —operated by NZ company Poseidon Pacific — that faced similar allegations last September when Indonesian crew left the vessel in Nelson.

Major churches in Australia refuse to accept contracts that would see them act as enforcement agents of government welfare reforms.

The Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) is to host the Constraints to Full Employment Conference at the University of Newcastle in December. The theme of the conference is employment quality, underemployment and marginal workers.

15 June 2006

The Employers & Manufacturers Association warns that a new law proposed to cope with a bird flu pandemic will force employers to resort to locking out staff or making them redundant if they are unable to meet the proposed pay obligations.

16 June 2006

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and reputedly the wealthiest person in the world, announces plans to soon give up his day-to-day activities with the software corporation to concentrate on charitable work in health and education in the developing world.

17 June 2006

Professional sportspeople work in the most injury-prone occupations in NZ. ACC figures indicate rugby union and rugby league in particular are the most injury-prone professions, ahead of the forestry, fishing, meat processing and mining industries.

18 June 2006

Primary healthcare in rural NZ would fall apart without overseas-trained doctors, according to a report by the College of General Practitioners. Half of all rural North Island GPs and 34% of all GPs were trained overseas.

A new magazine in the US is a reflection of a growing trend towards "work-life balance". Success publisher Joseph Guerriero says the market for the magazine is employers who are caught between a falling population of workers and tight controls on immigration and who are eager to identify extra perks that will lure more "talent".

19 June 2006

Co-leader of the Maori Party Pita Sharples says he will vote against the 90 Day Probationary Employment Bill. Sharples says he has held two meetings in his electorate and has been give clear instructions to vote against the Bill.

20 June 2006

Clothing retailer Postie Plus scraps youth minimum wage rates and will pay all employees adult rates regardless of their age. The company says the move will make it a more attractive employer. Postie Plus has 1,100 employees at 115 stores.

Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunication company, will cut 2,590 jobs over the next two years as part of its moves to slash its workforce by more than a fifth by 2010.

21 June 2006

National MP John Key says that the gap between NZ and Australian workers' after-tax incomes is now 37%.

The NZ trade deficit is now at $14.5 billion or 9.3% of GDP. This is the largest proportional deficit since the oil shock of 1975.

1,200 Lego workers are to lose their jobs worldwide as the Denmark-based company attempts to adapt itself to children's growing preference for electronic gadgets.

25 June 2006

Self-employed parents will be eligible for 14 weeks of paid parental leave from 1 July, so long as they stop working. To be eligible parents must have been working an average of at least 10 hrs/wk during the period immediately before the birth or adoption of a child. The government expects nearly 2,200 self-employed parents to apply for paid parental leave each year.

27 June 2006

Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest person in the world, has given up $US37 billion in shares of his investment company to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — to be used on health and education programmes in the developing world. Even inflation adjusted, Buffett's gift appears to be the largest philanthropic commitment ever made by one person in the US.

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  • hammer_saw.jpg - 3200 Bytes A chronic shortage of qualified builders in New Zealand is seeing specialised builders, who have just completed apprenticeship training, starting work on wages of up to $100,000 per year. The chief executive of the Registered Master Builders Federation Pieter Burghout tells the New Zealand Herald: "The chippie has gone from being the lowest in the heap to the top." He observes that builders who were asking $35 per hour three years ago are now demanding $60 per hour or more.

    Burghout says that while the $100,000 per year figure relates to a qualified ceiling installer working in an area of extremely high demand, other builders who have just finished their apprenticeships can expect to earn up to $60,000 per year for an average 50-hour week. These trainees are often in their early 20s, and these pay rates reflect both the desperate skills shortage and the high demand for their time.

    Demand for work on existing houses is at an all-time high, and Burghout estimates that 100,000 houses are in need of repairs, extensions or alteration work … a backlog that has accumulated during the five-year property boom. The average wait for homeowners to get a builder is about a year. Part of the problem is that builders are turning down work on existing houses and taking on new home construction work —preferring longer contracts over doing many smaller jobs.

    • The builder shortage has hit Auckland the hardest, with Tauranga and New Plymouth also badly affected. Some of the present shortages can be traced back to the decline in the number of apprentices that were training during the 1990s. In the late 90s, only 800 apprentices a year were joining the industry. Burghout says that the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation currently has 9,000 apprentices, 2,000 of whom will come out of their time this year.

    Source — New Zealand Herald 14 June 2006 "Skills Shortage sees young chippies earning up to $100,000" by Anne Gibson; New Zealand Herald 10 June 2006 "Builder shortage leads to big backlog" by Anne Gibson.


  • mappwayne.jpg - 4809 Bytes The 90 Day Probationary Employment Bill is having a "code of conduct" for employers written into it. Sponsor of the Bill National MP Wayne Mapp hopes to mollify MPs who are concerned about the loss of workers' rights and says the code of conduct would require employers to ensure new workers receive training, support and feedback during their first 90 days. It would also require bosses to tell workers early on if they were not performing adequately and give them a chance to improve. Mapp says such a code of conduct would have to be enforced at some level, but he doesn't agree that workers should have the right to personal grievances if employers did not meet their obligations.

    Other changes likely to be made to the Bill include restricting it to small employers and excusing workers dismissed from their jobs during their first 90 days from the 13-week benefit stand-down.

  • beaumont_carol.jpg - 4873 Bytes As Parliament debates retail trading on Easter Sunday, the Council of Trade Unions says new workers would face unfair pressure to work over public holidays should the 90 Day Probationary Employment Bill become law. CTU secretary Carol Beaumont: "We should be realistic about the demands workers will face to work over public holidays when under a 90-day period they will be without rights of appeal against unfair dismissal. Although National argues that the statutory rights around holidays will be unaffected by their Bill, when employers can sack workers without having to give any reason, this argument is a hollow one."

    Source — Dominion Post, 24 June 2006, "MP to soften bill on job probation" by Martin Key; media release CTU, 15 June 2006, Easter trading debate should factor in the 90 days no rights bill, says CTU".


  • tolley_anne.jpg - 4250 Bytes Businesses are receiving up to $17,000 from taxpayers for each long-term unemployed beneficiary they employ, but Work & Income cannot say how many of the workers are kept on the job after their subsidy ends. National Party welfare spokesperson Anne Tolley is critical of the situation: "There has to be some sort of obligation from the employer that if it works out they will keep them."

    The Dominion Post applied under the Official Information Act for the latest audit on the Job Plus scheme but the request was refused by the Ministry of Social Development officials.

  • Job Plus has been used for 123,000 people since it began in 1998. The scheme provides a proportion of a person's wage to their employer and the amount of the subsidy and how long it lasts depends a Work & Income assessment of the individual's barriers to employment.

    smith_ray.jpg - 5211 BytesThe Ministry of Social Development (MSD) doesn't monitor whether individual employers keep-on their Job Plus workers once the subsidy ends. Even so, MSD deputy chief executive Ray Smith says Job Plus is the agency's most successful scheme because long-term beneficiaries are twice as likely to have a job at the end of the subsidy period than those not on the scheme. Smith: "Our overall measure isn't whether the employers hang on to the individual, it's whether or not they come back onto a benefit."

  • There is no cap on the number of people who can be supported by Job Plus. In 2000, Job Plus was used for around 21,000 people. Last year 10,900 people used it. Ray Smith doesn't believe employers exploit the scheme. He says that if it became apparent that an employer was regularly accessing Job Plus and not providing work after the subsidy period ended Work & Income would stop working with them.

    Source — Dominion Post, 26 June 2006, "Job scheme `a success' — but no one's keeping count" by Anna Chalmers.


  • There is a huge drive on by British employers to draft as many qualified New Zealand social workers as possible. Recruiters are seeking social workers to move to the United Kingdom by offering salaries up to $NZ110,000 per year. The UK salaries packages often also include subsidised rent, a car-lease scheme and large relocation incentives. Canterbury University's head of the school of social work Jim Anglem: "We are beset by hard-sell recruiters coming from Britain and Australia, enticing them to the UK, offering them what appear to be very attractive packages."

  • It's not just overseas employers looking to hire social workers Local agencies appear to be starved of social workers, too. Over the last three years there has been a 63% increase in the number of social work vacancies in New Zealand, much higher than the average increase of 20% for other professions and trades.

    Source — The Press, 21 June 2006, "Kiwi social workers lured abroad by UK firms" by Kim Thomas.


  • kea.jpg - 4677 Bytes New Zealand has one of the highest proportions of expatriates in the world, with about 16% (one-in-six) of the population living overseas. This is second only to Ireland, which has 24% (one-in-four) living outside the country. In contrast, only 2% (one-in-fifty) of Australians live overseas.

    A new survey of New Zealanders living abroad by Kea (the Kiwi Expat Association) shows that one-in-five overseas NZ'ers have little intention of returning. But Kea chief executive Ross McConnell argues that this shouldn't be seen in a negative light: "It is plain that many expats simply aren't coming home, but they can still have a role in New Zealand's future… They don't have to be here to contribute. They can open doors and opportunities in markets where we need to do business in the future…"

    The Kea survey indicates that one-third of New Zealanders living abroad earn more than $100,000, which would put them in the top 3% of income earners in New Zealand. Over 80% of those living abroad have tertiary education qualifications, compared to 35% of the New Zealand population being tertiary educated.

    Source — New Zealand Herald 7 June 2006 "Many Kiwis spreading wings overseas unlikely to return, says survey" by Angela Gregory


  • statisticsnz.gif - 3457 Bytes Only about one-in-six of those who have taken out a student loan since 1997 have re-paid their debt, according to Statistics NZ. Its analysis of student loans taken out between 1997 and 2004 found that by April last year 78,000 (16%) of the estimated 490,600 student loans had been repaid.

    The number of student loans had risen over the period. In 1997 there were 101,300 borrowers but by 2004 there were 147,800, an increase of 45%. The average loan balance of the borrowers was $13,120, while the median loan balance was $8,400.

  • The average medical graduate has a $65,000 student loan, according to the University Students Association. President Conor Roberts warns that growing numbers of medical graduates are moving overseas to escape debt. Roberts: "We surveyed a group of them and two-thirds planned to go overseas within three years of graduation." He also reports that one-third of teaching graduates also plan to go overseas, with half of these giving their student debt as the main reason.

    Roberts says that the government's move to wipe the interest on student loans for those living in New Zealand will help, but he argues that the student allowance policy also needs revisiting. Many students are ineligible for a student allowance — usually because of their parents' income — and one-third of the current $8.3 billion in student loan debt has gone towards students paying their living costs while studying. The number of students eligible for student allowances has dropped from more than 70,000 in 2001 to 56,000 last year.

    Source — The Dominion 21 June 2006 "Only one in six loans paid back" by Anna Chalmers


  • oecdlogo.gif - 1195 Bytes Delegates from 30 OECD member nations have come together to review the organisation's 12-year-old Jobs Strategy. The "Boosting Jobs and Incomes" conference held in Canada revolved around sharing the lessons countries have learned about how their labour, welfare and economic policies have affected employment and unemployment over the last decade.

    OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría says that getting people who want to work into jobs is one of the biggest challenges facing governments, and systems that exclude people from employment are unfair and need to be changed. Gurría: "The key is to ensure that all economic policies are in line with and supportive of measures to boost employment and incomes. We believe that countries that take action along the lines we are recommending will be rewarded by a stronger labour market and, most importantly, improved living standards."

  • The seven OECD Jobs Strategies resonate with the issues the New Zealand government has been grappling with and policies it has been implementing over the last few years. They include:

    — "activation/mutual obligations" that include strong incentives for the unemployed to find work

    — removing barriers to labour force participation among women, older workers and other groups that are under-represented in the workforce

    — employment security versus flexibility

    — making work pay

    — lifelong workforce learning

    — stability-oriented macroeconomic policies that reduce cyclical fluctuations

    —while there is no single golden road to better labour market performance, this doesn't imply that "anything goes".

    employmentoutlook2006.jpg - 10127 Bytes

    OECD Employment Outlook 2006
    - Boosting Jobs and Incomes, 13 June 2006

    published by the OECD, ISBN: 9264023844,

    the full report (280pg) can be downloaded in full or as chapter summaries,
    the key reports and supplementary statistical material from here

    Source — Media release Human Resources and Social Development Canada, 13 June 2006, "Canada to Host OECD Jobs Strategy Forum in Toronto".


  • Employer's are still planning to put on more staff but it appears that the high demand for workers may have peaked. The latest Manpower Employment Outlook found that one-quarter of New Zealand employers plan to hire more staff over the next three months. While the figure is high, it is lower than it was the previous quarter when nearly one-third of the employers surveyed were planning to hire. In both the current and previous surveys, 6% of employers planned to cut staff numbers.

    The latest Hudson Report also confirms that employer hiring intentions are still high but not as high as they have recently been. The Hudson Report survey found that 36% the employers surveyed intend to hire more staff over next six months. Even so, this is significantly lower than the 43.5% who had hiring intentions over the same period last year.

    Source — New Zealand Herald, 13 June 2006, "Solid outlook for job seekers" by Owen Hembry; The Independent, 14 June 2006, "Bosses more cautious about hiring" by Owen Wilson.


  • After negative economic growth (-0.1%) in the December 2005 quarter, the economy grew by 0.7% in the March 2006 quarter. For the year through March 2006 the economy grew 2.2%, about half the rate it grew the previous year.

  • Economic research consultants BERL forecasts New Zealand's economic growth will be 1.9% over the next year. World economic growth is expected to be close to 5% over the same period. The slowing New Zealand economy is likely to result in fewer new jobs being created. BERL predicts the number of jobs in the economy will grow by 40,000 in the coming year. The economy had created 60,000 new jobs each year for the past three years.

    Source — Dominion Post, 21 June 2006, "Slow growth forecast for next 3 years" by James Weir; media release Statistics NZ, 23 June 2006, Economy grew 0.7 percent in march quarter".


  • cullen.jpg - 9862 Bytes Minister of Finance Michael Cullen warns that salary and wage earners cannot expect large pay increases to compensate for rising prices. Cullen says that demanding big pay rises would push up inflation and force the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates. While acknowledging that wage growth had been relatively muted while the economy has been growing strongly over the last few years, Cullen is concerned that workers' expectations for wage increases will flow on, even though the economy is slowing. Cullen: "So the message has got to be quite clear that we cannot afford large wage and salary increases across the board in this situation."

    The Employers and Manufacturers Association agrees that it would be unwise for increasing prices — driven to a large degree from overseas — to add to wage pressures. Chief executive Alasdair Thompson: "We simply can't award ourselves higher wages to compensate for high oil prices, or the lower exchange rate which is pushing up the price of imported goods." Retail petrol prices rose by 23.5% in the year to April.

  • The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) says it's unfair to single out workers for wage restraint and to reduce their standard of living when employers and others are not also being called upon to absorb the effect of things like fuel price increases. CTU secretary Carol Beaumont points out that wages rose by 3.3% last year, about the same as inflation. Yet business profits increased by 44% in the 2001-2004 period and have shown little sign of easing since then. Productivity has increased by 2.6% a year on average for over a decade but real wages have hardly gone up at all in that period. Beaumont: "Wages lag 35% below Australian pay levels. New Zealand now has a structural problem of low wages. If we want this to change we need real wages to rise — which means regular increases above the rate of inflation. Such increases do not add to inflationary pressures if employers are prepared to share the profits of recent years and if labour productivity increases at the average rate."

    Source — National Business Review, 14 June 2006, "Cullen Issues Wage-Rise Warning" by Marie McNicholas; Statistics New Zealand, 7 June 2006, "New Zealand Energy Statistics March 2006 quarter"; media release EMA, 14 June 2006, "Stagflation spector in economic outlook"; media release CTU, 15 June 2006, Unions react to wage restrain call".


  • The Ministry of Economic Development is funding research into why New Zealand firms are not hiring more foreign-born information and communication technology (ICT) workers. The HiGrowth Project that is conducting the research says there is a lot of interest by foreign nationals in coming to New Zealand but relatively few of them actually get jobs here.

    Companies' reluctance to hire candidates without having a face-to-face meeting may to be the biggest barrier to them employing immigrants. Many foreign candidates want to do interviews by phone, but potential immigrants tend to have much greater job-hunting success if they interview in New Zealand. QID Recruitment's Ben Pearson believes companies are less willing to take a person on without a direct meeting because New Zealand's strict employment laws make it difficult to dismiss a "recruitment error".

    Other issues the HiGrowth Project intends to research include allegations of discrimination against job candidates based on their accent, and how New Zealand's relatively low salary packages affect the employment decisions of migrants.

    Source — Dominion Post, 12 June 2006, "Research into migrant bias" by Reuben Schwarz.


  • Karroll-Brent-Edmondson.jpg - 7025 Bytes Karroll Brent-Edmondson has died in Auckland, aged 51, after a battle with cancer. The award-winning businesswoman was the force behind KT Footwear, a company that hired young, long-term unemployed Maori to make children's shoes in South Auckland.

    Karroll set up KT Footwear in 1991 after returning from Australia where she ran restaurants and a soup kitchen for expatriate Maori. She built the successful business and was highly acclaimed by the business community but lost it and many of her assets, including her home, as the footwear market changed.

    Throughout her life Karroll continued to be a champion of the down-trodden, and remained active in many community projects and charities. Karroll Brent-Edmondson: "I don't think people realise how deflated young people get ... if they could show us what they can really do ... and they can't do that unless they are in the workplace." — from The Jobs Letter No.14 (April 1995)

    Source — New Zealand Herald 23 June 2006 "Beautiful Tall Poppy dies"; The Jobs Letter No.14.


  • Unemployment is a major contributing factor in the East Timorese capital city Dili's descent into violent chaos. Questions are still to be answered regarding catalytic events like the sacking of a large portion of the army, the apparent supply of weapons to opposing groups and whether there has been interference by Western intelligence agencies that led the removal of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. But the rioting, widespread looting and burning of houses and commercial buildings in Dili is unlikely to have happened if more of the population were gainfully employed. 70-80% of young East Timorese are without a job or any prospect of future employment. There is a lost generation of young, jobless Timorese who feel they don't have a place in the new East Timor.

    Australian nun Sister Tess Ward says that Timorese soldiers' initial protests were merely a lightning rod for wider grievances and that unemployment is an underlying reason why many young men have been drawn into the current trouble. Since the departure of the Indonesian administration and military in 1999, young people have been flooding away from their farming village homes and arriving in Dili in search of work. Ward: "The root cause of the unrest is the shortage of work, especially for young people. The problem Dili, that is really sort of in-your-face all the time is the unemployment."

    Source — Catholic News, 25 May 2006, "Nun says unemployment underlies Timor trouble"; media release Caritas Aotearoa, 6 June 2006, "Giving a Sense of Purpose to 13,000 IDPs".


  • auschurches.jpg - 4187 Bytes Australia is instituting "Welfare to Work" reforms that will see a greater range of welfare beneficiaries "encouraged" into the workforce. The changes include an eight-week benefit stand down as punishment for those who don't meet their new job search obligations. The government estimated 18,000 people will be stood down because they won't comply with the new regime. Many of these people are considered to be "vulnerable cases" who have a raft of problems finding a job. In an effort to maintain a line to these people, the government is putting out to tender contracts to community groups to provide case management services to these vulnerable cases.

    But many churches — who operate most of the community welfare assistance programmes in Australia — are refusing to accept this new role. The Catholic Society of St Vincent de Paul says it won't be drawn in to being the enforcer of the government's new and stricter welfare policy. And the Brotherhood of St Laurence, one of the largest and well known Anglican social services, also says it won't tender for the contracts. St Laurence CEO Tony Nicholson: "We made it very clear some 12 months ago, when the federal government was introducing this new tranche of welfare reform, that we did not see our role as being the welfare policemen. And we've made that very, very clear to the government to try to ensure that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable don't get caught up in this penalty system. However, our judgment is that there hasn't been enough done."

  • Federal Minister of Human Services Joe Hockey says the reason the government wants to involve community groups is because they may be able to pick up the main reason for the non-compliance by a beneficiary, which the government's own welfare agency Centrelink had failed to pick up. Hockey: "Given that the government is actually prepared to pay them additional money to help those people most in need in the community, at a time when they are most vulnerable, I'm personally upset at the fact that these groups are walking away from this important role."

    Source — ABC Radio National, the Religion Report, 14 June 2006, "Churches say no to Federal plans for the unemployed" interviews by Noel Debien.


  • Indian information technology (IT) firms who have been the primary outsourcing destination of thousands if not millions of IT jobs over the last decade are now shopping for highly skilled staff —in the United States. Many Indian companies are expanding beyond data entry and back-office processes into areas such as design, research and development, and sophisticated business applications. To this end, India-based IT service provider Infosys, is spending $US100 million this year to hire and train 25,000 overseas workers and university graduates, particularly targeting candidates from such prestigious institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Some will be recruited to join the 10,000 US citizens already working in IT jobs in India. Others will work in offices Infosys is opening in the United States and Europe where it is hiring local staff and paying local rates.

    Even so, industry analysts don't expect the flood of IT jobs to India from Europe and the United States to ease. John McCarthy of Forrester Research estimates United States employers will move a further 3.4 million white-collar jobs overseas over the next decade. And research firm Gartner Inc believes that Europe and the US will have outsourced 30% of their IT sector jobs by 2015.

    Source — Sydney Morning Herald, 7 June 2006, "Jobs boost from Indian IT boom".


  • mph_l8.jpg - 6051 Bytes The British charity Action Aid has found that the huge pledges of aid, debt relief and trade reforms that were promised at last year's G8 group of wealthy nations conference at Gleneagles, Scotland, have not been delivered. In a special report to mark the first anniversary of the historic G8 summit, Action Aid says that millions of lives are still being lost in the developing world by the failure of the West to live up to the favourable headlines generated by the summit.

    The G8 Gleneagles Summit coincided with the Make Poverty History campaign and Live8 concerts (see Jobs Letter No 233). At the time, British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed a moral and political victory in the negotiations which promised the cancelling of debt for the world's 18 poorest countries, doubling of the aid budget, better access to HIV drugs and reform of the United States and European Union agricultural subsidy systems. Last week, Blair insisted that there had been a "great deal of progress in many areas" over 12 months, but acknowledged there had been "disappointments" — particularly the failure to reach a global trade deal.

    In their Mission Unaccomplished report, Action Aid is much more blunt. It says "a mixture of backsliding, buck-passing and half measures by rich countries risks undoing much of the progress. One year on, the world's richest countries are moving too slowly, or not moving at all, on their commitments. Unless they take urgent action now to meet their pledges on aid, trade and Aids, progress towards ending poverty will be jeopardised."

  • From the report: The G8 promised to double aid to Africa by 2010 as part of a US$50 billion ($82.5 billion) funding increase. But a pledge to meet the target of giving 0.56% of national income in aid, excluding debt relief, was lagging, with the United States, Germany and Italy "dragging their heels".

    The United States and European Union are still spending more than US$100 billion a year on subsidies for their farmers, while continuing to dump cheap exports in developing countries so local producers cannot compete in their own markets. Subsidy talks at the World Trade Organisation look set to end in deadlock, with France refusing to accept any outcome that implies reform of the Common Agricultural Policy — Europe's farm subsidy system.

    While the world's 18 poorest countries have had their public debts cancelled, Action Aid says that a further 40 nations need a similar deal. There are also concerns that, despite promises, conditions are being attached to debt cancellation, such as forcing developing countries to open their markets to richer nations.

    A promise of universal access to HIV treatments is also off-track because donors such as the United States have failed to make their promised contributions. The funding gap is currently more than US$10 billion a year.

    Mission Unaccomplished, report by Patrick Watt and Tom Sharman for Action Aid (June 2006) can be downloaded from here.

    Source — Mission Accomplished Action Aid report; The Independent 27 June 2006 "Zero effect of G8 aid summit" by Maxine Frith


  • vacation.jpg - 4225 Bytes It's summer-time in America … but who's relaxing? A recent Time magazine reports shows that Americans are allocated fewer vacation days compared with other industrialised countries (14 days a year, on average) … yet ironically, they don't even use them. The average American will not take four of their vacation days this year … which collectively adds up to a 574 million days of untaken paid leave.

    The American relationship to relaxation seems contradictory. The average American spends more money than anyone else in the world on leisure — a third of their income — and yet they are simultaneously No.1 in the world at not taking holidays. They don't even take a decent break when they are at work. Time Magazine reports that American lunch hours aren't even close to an hour — they average 31 minutes … and that's down by 5 minutes in the last ten years.

    Time columnist Po Bronson writes that one of the top reasons Americans give for not taking their holidays is that it's too much extra work. Bronson: "We have to get ahead of our workload in order to leave, and then we have top catch up on our workload upon our return. The longer the vacation we take, the bigger the stumbling blocks appear. So only 14% of Americans will take a vacation two weeks or longer this summer. The bottom line is that it is simply too stressful to relax".

  • Vive les vacances. Meanwhile, the average worker in France gets eight to ten weeks of paid holidays each year. That's 40-50 days. It all began in June 1936, 70th years ago, when France introduced two weeks statutory paid leave. This was an historic measure that launched town and city-dwellers on the road to coastline, countryside and mountain attractions.

    The holidays quickly became a major part of French culture and they seem to take their leave much more seriously than anywhere else. In 1957, the French were given the statutory right to a third week of holiday. In 1969 a fourth week was added … and in 1981 a fifth week. French workers push for their vacations to be as long as possible, and taken in one go in the summer so that people get a real break.

    With the French economy stagnating for a decade now, President Chirac has been urged to reverse the holidays trend and force French workers to work more. The Observer: "Chirac has rejected the calls, arguing that voters would never accept an attack on a pillar of modern Gallic civilisation and proof of its superiority over other societies …"

    Source — Time magazine 26 June 2006 "Just sit back and relax!"; New Zealand Herald 26 June2006 "Viva les vacances, and here's to more…" by Adam Sage

    JRT Trustees 2006.jpg - 29859 Bytes
    Trustees of the Jobs Research Trust. Clockwise from left — Rodger Smith, Vivian Hutchinson, Dave Owens, Jo Howard.


  • And it's almost farewell from us. This is the last regular edition of The Jobs Letter. After twelve years of publishing this letter every 2-3 weeks, the Jobs Research Trust is bringing this project to a close.

    The Jobs Letter has been the longest-surviving community-based media project in our field. Our publication and website was the first to really explore the challenge of getting essential information out to a wide diversity of students, thinkers, activists, public servants and decision-makers who want to make a difference on employment and poverty in this country. It's been our privilege to work and learn from this venture … and to see the links and results of The Jobs Letter research being used in projects right throughout New Zealand, and around the world.

    We are finishing publishing The Jobs Letter for two main reasons. Firstly, the trustees of The Jobs Research Trust can no longer keep fundraising to the level that enables this publication to be freely available to its readers while keeping the same standard and independence it has maintained for the last twelve years.

    Secondly, the trustees have been exploring alternative projects that we now want to make the focus of our work together. We have been in dialogue about the future of community groups and citizenship action in our social development field ... and we are stopping to take time as a Trust to think about how to approach our work differently. We are not completely sure where all this will take us … and our explorations are still a "work-in-progress". So, as they say: watch this space.

  • But we haven't finished with The Jobs Letter yet. Watch out for a special bumper final edition which will be published at the beginning of September. In this issue we will be canvassing the views of the many people who have been readers, contributors, or featured in The Jobs Letter since it began. We will be asking them: What has our country achieved on employment and poverty issues in the last 12 years? What have we learned? and, What do you think will be the main issues that we will need to focus on in the next 12 years?

    If you want to contribute to this special edition … do get in touch with us.

  • We are not winding up The Jobs Research Trust. After our special final issue is produced in September, we will be keeping our website "live" and available for future readers and researchers. (We still get almost 30,000 visitors to our website a month, many of them referred through internet search engines).

    Our extensive database of printed research material and reports, including our media watch clippings from 1993-2006, are now housed in the "Jobs Research Trust collection" at the Manuscripts and Archives section of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, where they will be freely available to future researchers.

  • In the meantime, we would like to thank all our friends and supporters of The Jobs Letter. We want to thank all the volunteers and contributors from around the country, and especially the team at our home base in New Plymouth, who have all made The Jobs Letter possible.

    We would also like to thank those individuals and trusts that have sent us regular koha and financial contributions since we began. Thanks also to Garry Moore, Paul Matheson and the Mayors of New Zealand involved in the Taskforce for Jobs who have been significant partners in this project for the last six years. And we would also like to acknowledge the Tindall Foundation for their friendship and support which enabled us to launch and run The Employment Catalyst Fund, and other projects.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to do some great work together. No doubt we'll be seeing you around.

  • The Jobs Research Trust — a not-for-profit charitable trust constituted in 1994.
    We are funded by sustaining grants and donations. Yes, you can help.