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Unemployed Vegetate Under Labour

Unemployed Vegetate Under Labour

ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today slammed Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey for allowing New Zealand's unemployed to vegetate on benefits.

"The rural sector is awash with opportunities for the unemployed, yet farmers and orchardists are becoming increasingly frustrated with the level of fitness of workers sent to them from WINZ," Mr Eckhoff said.

"Orchardists in need of fruit-pickers have found that many of these workers are so unfit they cannot even handle a day's work. Mr Maharey's abolition of Work for the Dole has left beneficiaries without the impetus to keep themselves ready for employment.

Dr Newman agreed, saying that the Minister's soft-on-welfare approach had left beneficiaries complacent in their unemployment, with many unable - and unwilling - to perform a day's work.

"Under Labour, welfare dependency is more than a career, for some it has become a lifestyle. Work for the Dole, like many other effective initiatives, helped to ensure that unemployed jobseekers were available for work when the opportunity arose. Without the requirement to even turn up to Activity in the Community - the scheme which replaced Work for the Dole - some beneficiaries are becoming more and more entrenched in their welfare dependency.

"By scrapping Work for the Dole, and replacing it with a meaningless sham, the Minister is guilty of allowing beneficiaries to stagnate on welfare.

"If he was truly committed to moving New Zealanders off benefits, then he must ensure beneficiaries are ready to work. It is time he stopped pandering to the Beneficiaries Unions and re-instated Work for the Dole, so that orchardists, farmers and others looking for workers can be assured that WINZ jobseekers are ready, willing and able to work," Dr Newman said.

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