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Unemployment crisis needs more than minor tweaks to economy

29 January, 2013

Unemployment crisis calls for more than minor tweaks to economic policy

The need to urgently get on top of high unemployment was the glaring omission from John Key’s speech opening Parliament, FIRST Union said today.

“Unemployment shot up half a per cent to 7.3 per cent in November. 175,000 people are officially unemployed, and many more are underemployed or jobless. This calls for a much greater sense of urgency from John Key,” Robert Reid, FIRST Union General Secretary said.

Robert Reid said that the decision announced this month to award an overseas building giant a major part of a $40 million Canterbury rebuild plasterboard contract demonstrates the government’s failure to consider all possible policy settings, including government procurement, to support jobs.

“It is a kick in the guts to New Zealand wood processing workers to see so much plasterboard imported when local firms have developed enough capacity to supply all the plasterboard requirements for the earthquake rebuild.”

“Scores of potential jobs have been lost by not awarding the full contract to local manufacturers, and with so many redundancies in manufacturing in the months leading up to Christmas, major government procurement projects should not be going to firms manufacturing overseas when capacity comfortably exists locally.”

Robert Reid said last week’s Business NZ/BNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index represented the seventh consecutive month in which the survey’s employment index was below the breakeven 50 mark.

“We need an aggressive approach to both job creation and retention. Training 14,000 apprentices over 5 years will be of no use if there are not the jobs for such apprentices when they finish their training.”

The government should also be addressing the failed monetary policy approach which is costing thousands of jobs in the export and manufacturing sectors. All of these issues were strongly emphasized at yesterday’s opening of the Manufacturing Inquiry, Robert Reid said.

The National Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces in October 2011 to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union represents 27,000 people working in Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood) Retail, Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz

ENDS

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Gordon Campbell:
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