CTU Proposes Worker Assistance Package for Canterbury
The Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) is proposing a Worker Assistance Package for Canterbury.
The package has three components - ongoing income support for those workers who cannot return to their old job or find a suitable new job; a number of skills initiatives, and; employment schemes.
NZCTU Earthquake Recovery Coordinator Marty Braithwaite said that "it is vital that this package is put in place before the current business assistance is phased out."
The CTU argues that Canterbury workers need ongoing and special support rather than end up relying on unemployment benefit for those that may qualify. That is why we strongly advocate that income support should be set at 80% of prior weekly earnings and continue for a maximum of 12 months or until the person has a new job or is placed in suitable skills training. Just as it takes time and money to rebuild infrastructure and housing, workers also need support for longer than the 14 weeks immediately following the February earthquake.
"We recognise that there a range of proposals being discussed on skills and training. The CTU is calling for a top-up to the skills investment subsidy so that employers are able to offer jobs with training; a trust that can operate a group training scheme across a wide range of vocations; support for tertiary education organisations to increase training provision; new clusters of skills in shorter-term qualifications, and; enhanced industry partnerships that provide funding from prospective employers and the Government for full time training schemes as a transition to employment".
"We also propose that employment schemes are put in place, including establishing socially and environmentally useful employment that is not likely to be done by the private sector".
Marty Braithwaite said that meetings on skills issues have been taking place in Canterbury and he hopes that concrete plans will emerge soon.
In addition, the CTU wrote to relevant Government Ministers two weeks ago expressing our strong concerns about the welfare of workers who are made redundant as the earthquake support subsidy and job loss cover are phased down and then dropped completely. Since then, we have had useful discussions with a range of employer groups and government departments but we still need to see actual proposals.