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National's 'Workers Friend' Posturing Phoney

25th January 2006

If National wants to see jobs only in dollar terms, lets do the maths

"Not only can the National Party not be trusted to get the facts right in the closure of the wholesale wing of the Jack Links beef jerky plant in Manukau City, their posturing to be the 'workers' friend' needs more scrutiny", Jim Anderton said today.

"The National Party spokespeople condemn the $500,000 that was paid through WINZ (not Industry New Zealand as stated in some reports) to train people who were long-term unemployment beneficiaries of more than ten years for work in the Jack Links beef jerky plant."

"These same unemployed Kiwis from Mangere had been thrown on the economic scrap heap during the reign of National Governments of the nineteen nineties where mass unemployment was seen to be inevitable and unstoppable" says Jim Anderton.

" From their press release the National Party would not support training costs for 150 long-term unemployed people for work. But lets do the sums and weigh up the financial benefits of having unemployed New Zealanders trained up for work and see if it was worth it or not", says Jim Anderton.

"$500,000 was spent on training. Those same 150 people who were unemployed and who received an average of around $250 per week were costing the taxpayer nearly $2 million per year. Over the 3 years since they started work for Jack Links, the amount paid out grows to $6 million. This takes no account of the human cost or the dire social consequences of long-term unemployment for individuals, families and their communities."

"I am also certain that the last three - four years of employment for those who got the initial training for work at the Jack Links plant will not be wasted. These Kiwis will have gained useful skills and work habits. They will have paid taxes and their children will have dads and mums who go to work as role models.

They now face a work environment that is as close to a full employment situation as we have seen in New Zealand's living memory and they will be more confident in their ability to approach the job market than if they were still on the unemployment benefit four years down the track" says Jim Anderton.

"The National Party would still be beating up on the 'dole bludgers' as they did through the whole time they were in Government as if their policies had nothing to do with the unemployment of the times."

ENDS

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