|No.202||11 March 2004||Essential Information on an Essential Issue|
of key events over the last few weeks.
INCREASED DEMAND FOR WORKERS
WAIKATO TRADES SKILLS SHORTAGE
PARENTAL LEAVE EXTENDED
SCHOOL CLOSURES HALTED
WINZ BONUSES RACE BASED
AMERICA ASKS: ARE TOO MANY JOBS GOING OVERSEAS?
AND THE OSCAR FOR OUTSOURCING GOES TO ...
NZ AS AN OUTSOURCING DESTINATION
VOICES ON THE NO-GO AREAS
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Index to Features
19 February 2004
The largest US food producer, Kraft Corporation, lays off 6,000 workers.
20 February 2004
Teachers colleges are graduating twice the number of primary teachers than there are jobs for. There were 2,667 graduates in 2002 but only 1,411 found primary school teaching jobs. With the over-supply of qualified graduates, principals commonly get 50-150 applications for a single job vacancy.
Nearly half of Australian workers fake illnesses to take advantage of sick-leave, according to a workplace survey. Researcher Stephen Walton says people use sick leave to achieve a balance between work and family life. The study also finds that people with greater sick leave entitlements tend to take more sick leave.
US economist Robert McTeer says that the loss of American jobs to cheaper overseas labour markets is part of a "creative destruction" process that will make the US economy more efficient. The US has lost about 2.3 million jobs since January 2001.
22 February 2004
The government-owned Kiwibank is turning down home loans for low-income families who depend on social welfare income top-ups. All five other NZ trading banks say the criteria on which they lend money includes any state income support they receive.
The British secret service, M15, is to expand its surveillance and intelligence capability by 1,000 new staff.
23 February 2004
The minimum wage is to rise from $8.50 to $9/hr, a 5.9% increase. The youth rate raises from $6.80 to $7.20/hr, keeping it at 80% of the adult rate.
Minister of Education Trevor Mallard calls a halt to his programme of closing and merging schools.
Prime Minister Helen Clark says that the government will review its policies targeting Maori to ensure they are "needs"-based rather than "race"-based.
Australian Telstra says that, although the company has no immediate plan to do so, it expects to outsource more jobs to places like India.
24 February 2004
Devastating floods put hundreds of lower North Island people out of their homes. Relief packages are advanced to councils governing Rangitikei, Manawatu, Wanganui, Horowhenua and South Taranaki. Farmers bear the brunt of the disaster with some of the most productive farmland in the country being laid to waste. Roads and other essential infrastructure may take many months to fully repair.
Government Cabinet portfolios are redistributed. Paul Swain replaces Margaret Wilson as Minister of Labour. Swain also takes on Immigration from Lianne Dalziel who recently resigned. Trevor Mallard is appointed to a new portfolio of Race Relations.
Deutsche Bank predicts economic growth to slow from 3.5% last year to 3% this year and then 2.5% next year. The bank says that the high currency exchange rate and a drop in immigration will slow the economy. But it predicts these will be tempered by the $1 billion extra government spending that will be contained in the May Budget.
Women hold 31% of all senior management positions in NZ. By contrast, women hold 22% of the senior positions in Australia, 20% in the US, 18% in Britain and 8% in Japan.
25 February 2004
Manawatu tradesmen face a huge backlog of work repairing thousands of flooded houses. Feilding builder John Kinane says the main task is ripping out soaked wall linings and skirting boards so houses can dry out. But builders were also pulling out cupboards and kitchen units swollen and warped in the flooding. The labour shortage is acute as tradespeople were already in short supply before the flood.
A former Ministry of Social Development employee is found guilty of stealing $1.9m from the ministry.
Taranaki businesses profited by $50m as the district hosted the filming of The Last Samurai, according to a report commissioned in part by Venture Taranaki Trust. The filming and flow-on activities created 1,400 full-time jobs.
The freezing works at Waitara is being upgraded and re-opened by Anzco Foods in partnership with Itoham Food, Japan's second largest meats manufacturer and distribution company. The former Affco site, dormant since 1997, expects to employ 70 people and begin exporting smallgoods to Japan in September.
26 February 2004
The cost of the clean-up and repair after the February storms is expected to well exceed $250 million. But economist Gareth Morgan says the cost to the country in terms of lost livelihoods will be much greater. Morgan says the floods could wipe 1% off GDP, which, on estimated GDP figures, would amount to about $1.26 billion.
27 February 2004
Some flood-stricken farmers are aghast at the government's promise of 75% of the dole for those left without an income. Dean Bailey, a Foxton father of three whose farm was wiped out in the floods: "How the hell can they justify that as a fair figure when they give people who don't do anything 100% of the benefit?"
28 February 2004
The state-owned Kiwibank has extended the amount low-income earners can borrow (with no deposit) to buy a home from $100,000 to $150,000.
29 February 2004
The Ministry of Social Development is negotiating to buy internet-based job-matching software that would significantly improve the ability of its staff to match beneficiaries with suitable vacancies.
1 March 2004
Nine English-language schools plan to close or have closed since January. The industry appears to be suffering from the perception that NZ is anti-Asian and not safe for Asian students. South Africa is perceived to be a safer student destination.
2 March 2004
NZ experienced record high short-term visitor numbers in January. For the year to the end of January, there were 2,130,000 short-term visitors, an increase of 3.3% over the previous year.
Immigration figures show the net number of long-term visitors dropped from 39,000 to 33,000 in the year to January, or 15%. Immigration figures are a key indicator of future domestic demand, particularly in the housing market.
Steve Maharey floats the idea of putting a time limit on Waitangi Treaty settlements. Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia backs the proposal saying delays are causing despair within Maoridom.
3 March 2004
The government announces it's list of "no-go areas" where people will not be allowed to move to and still receive the dole.
4 March 2004
The government sets up a group to advise it on ways to increase workplace productivity. New Minister of Labour Paul Swain says he wants to raise awareness and debate on the issue.
7 March 2004
The US economy added a paltry 21,000 jobs last month. The US has gained only 42,000 jobs per month on average for the last three months. Analysts agree that job creation needs to be about 150,000 per month just to keep pace with the growing labour force.
Germany's state welfare system looks to loom large in policy debates as presidential hopeful Horst Koehler calls for welfare reform. Koehler, who, two days ago resigned as IMF managing director, says Germany must trim costly social programmes in order make it more competitive.
Soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola cuts 3,700 staff worldwide last year. The company is criticised by corporate governance watchdogs who point out that the company awarded bonuses to six of its directors of $US8.4 million, the equivalent of $2,300 for each redundant worker.
The 259 named localities have stunned many local authority politicians and community groups around the country. And while many Mayors have supported the intentions behind the policies ... there has been widespread concern about the degree of "consultation" that has led to the latest announcements.
only unemployment (not sickness or DPB) beneficiaries are affected.
people already living in the "no-go" locations will not have the benefit taken off them but would get extra attention from Work and Income to try get them into jobs.
unemployed people could still move to "no-go" zones, if they could prove they had work lined up or were able to get to areas where employment was available.
no concession has been made for Maori wanting to move to where their whanau lived. (Smith: "No matter who you are this policy applies.")
people with a special reason for going to a "no-go" zone, such as helping a sick relative, may be eligible for a different type of benefit.
the full list of the "no-go" zones, including how many unemployment beneficiaries live there now.
Green MP Sue Bradford argues that it is not the problems of unemployment in the "no-go" zones that are driving these policy changes. Bradford: "Labour is engaging in beneficiary bashing. It is disgusting that it appears prepared to sacrifice the future of entire communities in a cynical attempt to woo voters away from the equally heartless policies of Don Brash and Katherine Rich..."
Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey also told media that "every locality on the list is there as a result of consultation which has taken place over the last three months with people in local areas and that of course is why they support this policy..."
Moore thinks that the whole concept of "Jobs Jolt" has been a negative way of making decisions about employment policy, and says that we need to find more positive ways of looking at the situation. Moore: "This may be a good time for us all to refocus on the bigger picture. Mayors are more interested in jobs and training for young people, and the effect of skill shortages on their regions than about any perceived malingerers. You have to question a policy that focuses on 1% of the problem , when the Mayors have been asking officials to come up with strategies that address the 40% of the unemployed that are under the age of 25."
Turner also feels that the "no-go" policies undermine the positive approach that Mayors are taking to job creation issues, and is concerned about the image of small rural areas, which are beginning to recover from the economic shocks of the 80s and 90s. Turner: "Some Mayors also feel that this policy works against the government's own regional development strategies and could be seen to cast a negative stereotype on people already living in those areas especially if they are currently unemployed. Mayors have worked stridently to lift the profile of many of these areas and stop population decline."
Lux says there is a shortage of unskilled workers in his region which people in a number of the tagged zones could easily travel to. As long as the plan did not stop people moving to the region to work, he did not have a problem with it. But he doubted many people moved to the area to sit on the dole anyway.
Whakatane District Mayor Colin Hammond, also consulted, says he is happier now it was clear the initiative would not affect people already living there. However, while Whakatane's unemployment rate ( between 8-10%) was high and needed addressing, he believes the approach is negative.
While Dunedin did not contain any of the identified areas, it still has concerns about the policy. General Manager for strategy and development Peter Brown says that people are attracted to a city or region because jobs are available to them, and because the physical attributes of a region appeal or because once they are there they can create their own work and businesses. Brown: " Dunedin has shown that growth can be encouraged and people who were unemployed here are now playing vital roles in our lively and strong city so we believe it is better to encourage and support people rather than ostracise them..."
Sources Press Statement Ministry of Social Development 3 March 2004 "NZs Employment Opportunities Continue to Grow"; New Zealand Herald 3 March 2004 "No go zones for unemployed" by NZPA; New Zealand Herald 4 March 2004 "No go job towns jolt councillors" by Ruth Berry; New Zealand Herald 4 March 2004 "Mixed feelings over dole law" by Elizabeth Binning and Mathew Dearnaley; The Dominion Post 4 March 2004 "Finding the unemployed proves to be hard work" by Glen Prentice; The Dominion Post 4 March 2004 "Coming to a no-go zone near you" by Jane Clifton; The Dominion Post 5 March 2004 "No go zones won't do anything to aid jobless" by Fran Tyler; editorial in The Dominion Post 6 March 2004 "It's about attitude, not where you live";NZ City 4 March 2004 " Greens slam no-go scheme";Press Release 3 March 2004 Ministry of Social Development "New Zealand's Employment Opportunities Continue to Grow"; Press Release 3 March 2004 Dunedin City Council "Dunedin City Council a "Must Come Zone"; Press Release 3 March 2004 Employers and Manufacturers Association "Jobs Jolt small, though practical initiative"; Press Release 3 March 2004 NZ First Party "Limited Employment Locations"; Press Release 3 March 2004 Ministry of Social Development "Flexible FundMayors Taskforce"; Press Release 3 March 2004 ACT Party Muriel Newman " Time to Prove Jobs Jolt is for real"; Press Release 3 March 2004 Green Party Sue Bradford "Labour's disgrace: 259 ghost towns"; Press Release 3 March 2004 Green Party Sue Bradford "No truth in no-go consultation claim"; The Press 4 March 2004 "Five No-Go dole areas in Canterbury" by Anna Claridge; NZ City 4 March 2004 "Criticism of anti-work dodger scheme"; NewstalkZB 4 March 2004 Interview with Basil Morrison; New Zealand Herald editorial 5 March 2004 "No-go zones must rise to challenge" ; New Zealand Herald 6-7 March 2004 "Blacklist choices puzzle small towns"; Hansard, Questions in the House of Parliament 3 and 4 March 2004
INCREASED DEMAND FOR WORKERS
further increases in the Modern Apprenticeships and industry training programmes,
better partnerships between Work and Income and understaffed industries so we can identify their skills needs and train job seekers to meet them,
attracting skilled migrants who meet employers' needs,
improving the information that is available about the labour market so that young people, older workers wanting a career change and those advising them make good choices about the kinds of skills being sought by employers.
Source Skills in the Labour Market February 2004, published by the Labour market Policy Group of the Department
of Labour 19 February 2004; Government press release, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey, 26
February, 2004, http://www.beehive.govt.nz/PrintDocument.cfm?DocumentID=19039