Essential Information on an Essential Issue
29 January, 1996
- AGENDA 96
Ten important things to be done for employment in 1996. Compiled from our recent subscriber survey and views expressed to our editors and associates
- UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES
The latest registered unemployment figures show a December figure of 161,476
people. Although this is up 6.3% on the previous month (attributed to `seasonal' factors like
student unemployment), it is the lowest December figure since 1989.
Employment Minister Wyatt Creech forecasts that unemployment will continue to
decrease this year, but at a slower rate than during the past two years "... because of the
Source - The Dominion 19 January 1996 "Creech quick to more focus of unemployment"
- 32.3 TO 1
There were 4,988 notified job vacancies at NZ Employment during December, and
86% were still unfilled at the end of the month. There were 32.3 people registered unemployed
people for every notified vacancy at NZ Employment in December.
Source - NZES statistics January 1996
- HIDDEN UNEMPLOYMENT
NZ First says that a big rise in sickness, invalid, and disability beneficiaries was hiding
the real state of unemployment. The figures: Sickness beneficiaries increased by 332% from 7,884
in 1981 to 34,037 in 1995; Invalid beneficiaries increased by 131% from 17,181 in 1981 to
39,686 in 1995; and Disability beneficiaries increased by 1599% from 6,667 in 1985 to 113,249 in 1995.
Tau Henare: " The number of NZers unable to work due to disability has not increased
by 1500% in the past 15 years. Nor do the figures appear to realistically reflect population
trends. Such a phenomenal increase in numbers indicates a marked change in policy at the Department
of Social Welfare ...The government is more than happy to permit these people to languish
because it makes the unemployment figures look much better than they really are ..."
Source - The Daily News 19 January 1996 "Real doe queue hidden, says MP" "
- STUDENT UNEMPLOYMENT
Student unemployment has been at a record high, despite a slight rise in nationwide
jobs offered through Student Job Search. At the end of December, about 47,000 students had
enrolled with the scheme, but 23,958 remained unemployed, up from 20,682 for the same period last
year. The scheme's national director, Lindsay Wright, says that job offers (Oct-Dec) rose to
24,916 from the 24, 561 for the same period in 1994.
Job offers were slightly down in Auckland, Northland, Manawatu and Canterbury, but up
in Wellington, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Otago.
Source - The Dominion 16 January 1996 "Jobless students at all-time high"
- GREATER TRADE DEFICIT PREDICTED
The 13 economists involved in the NZIER consensus survey predict lower export
growth and higher import growth this year, and forecast a much higher balance of payments deficit
of $3.17 billion for 1995-96, compared to the $2.65 billion forecast in their September survey.
The economists forecast unemployment to drop to 6.1% this year (they predicted 6.4% in
September) and say the rate will be 6% in 1997.
Source - The Dominion 12 January 1995 "Institute forecasts lower investment".
- SMITH ON FISHING INDUSTRY CONDITIONS
Government MP Nick Smith, who is also chairman of the caucus fishing committee, is
set to cross the House to support opposition moves to force a change in the Fisheries Bill aimed
at creating a minimum standard of employment conditions for foreign workers on fishing boats
in NZ waters. He says the squalid conditions and poor pay rates were a national disgrace and
a strong disincentive to employing New Zealanders on the fishing boats.
Smith says that the fishing companies saved more than $100 million each year by
using foreign crews rather than New Zealanders. He reports that the 5000 foreigners working in
NZ waters endured conditions that the SPCA would declare unfit for animals, and they earned
a pittance with rates of pay as low as 40c an hour.
Source - The Dominion 15 January 1996 "Smith wants foreign workers covered"
- NO MORE `DOLE DAY'
People applying after February 19th for the unemployment, sickness, training or
independent youth benefit will have their payments staggered on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
The change has been brought in order to remove the `stigma' of dole days, and to even out
the workload and cut queues at banks, shops and supermarkets.
Source - New Zealand Herald 15 January 1996 "Payment days to change for benefits"
- UN POVERTY ACTION
The United Nations has set its own Agenda for 1996. It has declared this year as the
international year for eradicating poverty.
- FOODBANKS FOR WORKERS
The Auckland City Mission says that cash-strapped part-time workers are resorting to
food handouts in order to make ends meet. A mission survey shows that for November last year,
125 food parcels were delivered, but only 15 went to the unemployed. The missioner, the Rev
Richard Buttle, says that this trend was showing the pattern of poverty was changing because it was
no longer just the unemployed who are affected: "The employment figures show that these
people have employment, but because its part-time it's not producing a heck of a lot of money ..."
The Salvation Army says that throughout NZ, 10.7% of the people using their
foodbanks had jobs. Regional figures: in Auckland City and the North Shore it is 19%s, in Wellington
4.6%, and Tauranga 20%.
Source - New Zealand Herald 16 January 1996 "Part-time workers struggling to manage." and The Dominion 23
January 1996 "110pc of foodbank users employed says Maharey"
- WIDENING GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR
Charles Waldegrave, social policy consultant with the Anglican Family Centre in
Lower Hutt, says that the coming tax cuts and family assistance package will further divide NZ
society between rich and poor. He says that the proposed tax package will help people on $35,000 a
year or higher, and poorer families with children, but it will certainly not help those on lower
incomes who do not have children, including all those on low pay and the majority of beneficiaries.
His figures : people earning $35,000 or more a year will receive an extra $23 in the hand
a week. At $20,000, they will get about $6, and at $15,00 they will qualify for only an extra
$3.17. People on $9,500 or less will receive nothing from the tax cuts, unless they have
dependent children. Waldegrave: " This is despite the fact that beneficiaries and low-income earners were
the group that lost around 20% of their after tax income with Ruth Richardson's reforms, while
the richer group lost around 2%..."
Waldegrave says that there are around 194,000 beneficiaries who have no dependent
children and will not qualify for tax relief or any other income assistance, such as family support.
" Single adults and couples who do not have children make up many of the poorest people in
New Zealand," he says. "Single unemployed people receive a benefit of $138 per week. Even
after receiving the accommodation supplement, rent payments leave many with less than $10 a day
to pay all other costs including food..."
Source - Sunday Star-Times 9 January 1996 "Charles Waldegrave on Bill Birch's tax cuts package"
- WHO WINS BY DOWNSIZING?
Corporate America has described `downsizing' or massive layoffs as a bitter pill
they must all swallow in order to make those businesses "lean, mean and globally competitive..."
The downsizing has led to a new breed of chief executive who themselves seem to gain a great
deal from the restructuring measures. Mother Jones magazine has reported on the successes of
four US corporate `downsizers'...
Company : Eastman Kodak
CEO Downsizer : George Fisher
Number of Jobs Cut : 14,100 (in 1993-94)
CEO Pay before Cuts : $1,890,000
CEO Pay after Cuts : $3,901,000
Company : Westinghouse Electric
CEO Downsizer : Michael H. Jordan
Number of Jobs Cut : 4,900 (in 1994-95)
CEO Pay before Cuts : $713,400
CEO Pay after Cuts : $1,357,000
Company : Scott Paper
CEO Downsizer : Albert J Dunlap
Number of Jobs Cut : 10,500 (in 1994)
CEO Pay before Cuts : $618,000
CEO Pay after Cuts : $3,575,500
Company : IBM
CEO Downsizer : Louis Gertner
Number of Jobs Cut : 36,000 (in 1994)
CEO Pay before Cuts : $2,800,000
CEO Pay after Cuts : $4,600,000
Source - Mother Jones Nov/Dec 1995 "The Axmen Cometh"
The UK Spectator reports that over the past year, the pay of Company Directors was
found to have risen by nearly twice that of other employees.
Source - The Spectator 16/23 December 1995 "Editorial This Week"
- EDUCATION SYTEM VOUCHER SYSTEM DEBATED
The `voucher' system of funding education, an idea supported by Education
Minister Lockwood Smith, is receiving some clear warning bells from research into the overseas
examples where the system has been tried. Iria Whiu, the president of NZEI, the primary and early
childhood teacher union, says that research in America shows that vouchers or `choice'
programmes have not `freed up' the education system, but have actually led to a widening gap between
rich and poor schools. Whiu says that the most comprehensive research to date shows that
vouchers exacerbate inequality: "By funding individuals rather than services, vouchers take
opportunities away from the poor, ethnic minorities and those with special needs..."
She cites the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching which reports: " The
state-wide `choice' programmes tend to widen the gap between rich and poor districts. The
choice process tends to work much better for those who are most advantaged economically and
educationally." Richard Elsmore of the Harvard School of Education says: "Choice appears to have
a stratifying effect, by race, social class and ethnicity, even when it is designed to remedy
inequalities on these dimensions..."
Iria Whiu points to the NZ early childhood sector where funding is attached to
children enrolled in the services for a local example of how a voucher system creates perverse
effects. Whiu: "the gap between childcare centres in rich and poor communities has grown, and the
quality of education has diminished as centres enrol more children to make more money. The
funding needs of diverse services are not being met, and centres are becoming more reliant on
surrounding communities for support ..."
Source - The Dominion 6 January 1995 "Widening gap between rich and poor" by Iria Whiu.
- JOB SHARING IN FRANCE
A subsidiary of the computer company Hewlett-Packard has introduced a more
flexible four-day week for workers. This has enabled the plant to be run seven days a week, round
the clock, rather than five days on day shifts. Production has tripled, employment has risen 20%,
and earnings have remained unchanged.
Source from the UN Human Development Report 1994
- JOB SHARING IN HOLLAND
Dutch union workers have been proposing a four-day working week of about 35 hours,
in the hope that jobs could be saved. Last year, hundreds of jobs at the Dutch retailing
firm Koninklijke Bijenkorf Beheer were saved by cutting the working week from 38 to 35 hrs.
And white-collar unions have tried to stave off the threat of large-scale redundancies amongst
their 100,000 banking employees by agreeing to a 36 hr week.
Source Dominion 24 May 95 " Job Saving heralds more Cuts to working week".
- INTERNET BOOKMARK: YOUTH EMPLOYMENT RESEARCH
The Australian Social Justice Research Foundation is a collaboration between
union-based Centre for Labour Studies and the University of Adelaide. It aims to promote progressive
research and analysis on government social and economic policies. One of its main projects
is looking at the challenges facing Australia's young people in terms of work opportunities and
the future of work "... so that all our young people can look forward to the future with
confidence and dignity."
Last August, the Foundation sponsored a major conference on "Jobs for Young
Australians" which looked at practical responses to youth unemployment. The Foundation is also
funding selected community-based youth employment projects around Australia. This internet
home-page leads to more information on the Foundation, fact-sheets on youth unemployment, and details of
the youth projects and funding scheme.
Send your internet bookmarks to firstname.lastname@example.org
- BOOMERANG GENERATION
Trends. The `Boomerang Generation' is a description of the increasing numbers of
young adults who are returning to parental homes for financial support in face of the 90s marketplace
of high unemployment and user-pays tertiary fees. Joanna Wane, in a feature in last week's
Listener, says that for teenagers of the 60s and 70s, breaking away from parental control was a
ritual transition from the dependence of childhood, and a time for self-exploration. But today's
adult children are more likely to adopt a revolving door policy of moving back to the parental home
in short bursts between flats, jobs, overseas travel and university studies.
Wane writes that government policy has encouraged `a prolonged adolescence' by
raising the qualifying age for the unemployment benefit to 18, and considering tertiary students to be
the financial responsibility of their parents until the age of 25. " The traditional rites of passage
into adulthood are missing, as the economic bite of unemployment and the cost of education erode
old patterns of asserting independence..."
Source - The Listener 20 January 1995 "The Boomerang Generation" cover story by Joanna Wane.
- NATURAL STEP FOUND IN NZ
Trend-setter. Dr Karl-Hendrik Robert, the Swedish founder of The Natural Step is to
speak in Auckland and Wellington on the 7th and 8th of February. The Natural Step process has been
set up to teach and support environmental systems thinking in corporations, cities,
governments, unions and academic institutions. It does this through an easily understood dialogue
process rooted in some fundamental scientific principles. The principles behind the Natural Step
are gaining international attention and promise to be key agenda items in discussing the role of
business, our work, and their impact on environmental issues over the next decade.
For more information on Dr Robert's contact Ros Capper 04-293-3310
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