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Maharey Not Helping Worker Shortages

Maharey Not Helping Worker Shortages

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey of three years' inaction, after reports that Northland fruit-growers have had to rely on immigrant fruit-pickers because workers sent by WINZ have proven unreliable.

"Not long after Mr Maharey became Minister, he assured the country that beneficiaries would be provided to ensure that there were adequate pickers, and that fruit would not be left to rot on the tree," Dr Newman said.

"We saw endless, expensive, glossy releases and wonderful rhetoric, but the Minister has failed to deliver. The removal of the compulsory Work for the Dole programme has meant that some non-motivated beneficiaries can avoid work.

"Northland growers have had to fall back on immigrant workers, because those provided by WINZ have transport problems, fail to turn up for work, arrive late or have no work ethic.

"This shows that the Minister's shonky Activity in the Community programme - which has all the trademarks of Work for the Dole, but is voluntary - is an abject failure. Beneficiaries do not realise they have to show up for work on time. Without the power to compel them to do so, Activity in the Community is failing to teach them that most basic work ethic: punctuality.

"Now, with Northland's immigrant pickers having been arrested, and some jobseekers being disinterested and unreliable, growers face losing entire crops. This is something that Mr Maharey assured the country would not happen.

"Jobseekers need the social and work skills to survive in the workplace, and to get off welfare. They will not get this from a toothless, voluntary work programme. Mr Maharey must re-introduce Work for the Dole, and extend it to be full-time, to give participants the exact skills and disciplines they need to survive in the workforce - until he does, he will continue to fail beneficiaries, and cost fruit-growers hundreds of thousands of dollars," Dr Newman.

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