Labour’s unemployment policy

July 31, 2014

Labour misnamed the employment policy it announced yesterday – it’s actually a recipe for increasing unemployment:

Labour’s intention to increase the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage would hurt business, cost jobs and reduce growth, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

“Labour’s policy to immediately increase the minimum wage to $16.25 would cost at least 6,000 jobs, and a wage of $18 would cost around 16,500. If you want to make people unemployed this is a good way to go about it,” Mr Bridges says.

“Setting the minimum wage represents a careful balance between protecting low-paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost. You cannot legislate your way to higher wages with the stroke of a pen.

“If it’s not based on increased productivity, simply paying people higher wages is a cost that gets passed on to New Zealanders as higher taxes, reduced competitiveness, inflation and fewer jobs.

“Labour’s promise to scrap National’s successful 90-day trial legislation would also cost thousands of jobs. Research showed that a third of employers who used the trial period would not have hired a new employee without it. And an overwhelming majority of employers have kept staff on after the trial period ended.

“As for Labour’s promise to pay all core public service workers at least the Living Wage: why should core government employees — who only represent about two per cent of the workforce — earn more than a private sector employee doing a similar job?

“Labour’s promise to implement industry standard agreements is a return to the 1970s and is a cynical payback to the Unions for their support.

“It would require all regional employers to pay the same pay rates as one in downtown Auckland. That would cause real damage to regional economies.

“This Government is achieving strong job growth by operating flexible labour market policies that encourage employers to take on new workers.

“Flexibility, choice and fairness in the labour market helps create jobs, increase wages and encourages innovation, and it is critical for supporting a stronger and more productive economy,” Mr Bridges says.

Labour is still suffering under the delusion that it can legislate wealth.

It doesn’t understand that increasing wages by diktat isn’t sustainable and anything that adds costs, complexity or risk to employing people will increase unemployment.


Rural round-up

July 23, 2014

Farming family demonstrate conservation message – Ann Warnock:

Dan Steele is a farmer, conservationist, competitive axeman, hunter, historian, lodge host, rugby fan and romantic who never dreamed he’d turn into a bird geek.

But at the age of 21, while wandering up the banks of the Kaiwhakauka Stream at Retaruke Station, his parents’ remote property on the Whanganui River, he spied a family of blue ducks (whio) and they unwittingly shaped the rest of his life.

“I love exploring and poking about up every stream; climbing every ridge. On this particular day I saw two adults with their five ducklings. The next time I saw them there were only three ducklings. Then there were none. I phoned the DOC ranger. They were endangered. It hit me; protecting the blue duck was part of the future of our land.” . . .

Boost for horticulture and viticulture industry:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse have announced plans for a new programme aimed at getting more Kiwis into seasonal work, alongside an increase to the annual RSE cap.

Mr Woodhouse says the need to raise the cap on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from 8000 to 9000 demonstrates the success of the RSE scheme.

“There’s no doubt that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industry in the past few years would not have been possible without RSE, which has been widely praised locally and internationally,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“It has provided employers with a stable and reliable workforce and given them confidence to expand and invest in their business. RSE workers have also benefitted significantly from gaining invaluable work experience and being able to send money back to their communities at home.’’ . . .

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme:

Domestic Pacific workers can be as successful as overseas Pacific workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
 
Mr Lotu-Iiga is encouraging employers to take up the New Zealand Seasonal Worker Scheme announced today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. The scheme will provide pastoral care and other support to assist Kiwis into seasonal work. Mrs Bennett also announced an increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme recruits seasonal workers from overseas to assist in the horticulture and viticulture industries where there are not enough New Zealand workers.
 
“I was in Marlborough in the weekend speaking to employers, Pacific RSE workers and domestic Pacific workers and I saw first-hand the benefits of Pacific people working in the wine industry,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga. . .

Pork industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The Government and the commercial pork industry have committed to a partnership to strengthen biosecurity, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by New Zealand Pork at its annual conference today.

“This enables New Zealand Pork and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response activities. It means we can focus on the areas of greatest priority to the pork industry,” Mr Guy says.

“What it means in practice is a stronger, more effective biosecurity system. Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding. . .

– Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about PGG Wrightson and the challenges it faces. For their seeds division there are clear strategic options, but for the farm services division, the long term strategy remains challenging. Part of the reason is the competition they are facing from the farm services co-operatives, with Farmlands now dominant in the sector.

Farmlands has 56,000 members and an annual turnover exceeding $2 billion. This is more than double the New Zealand farm services revenue of its major investor-owned competitor, PGG Wrightson. The aim of Farmlands is to keep prices low for its members. This ensures that its investor-oriented competitor also has to keep its margins low. . . .

The truth about grassfed beef – The Food Revolution Network:

A lot of people today, horrified by how animals are treated in factory farms and feedlots, and wanting to lower their ecological footprint, are looking for healthier alternatives. As a result, there is a decided trend toward pasture-raised animals. One former vegetarian, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, says he now eats meat, but only “grassfed and organic and sustainable as possible, reverentially and deeply gratefully, and in small amounts.”

Sales of grassfed and organic beef are rising rapidly. Ten years ago, there were only about 50 grassfed cattle operations left in the U.S. Now there are thousands.

How much difference does it make? Is grassfed really better? If so, in what ways, and how much? . . .

New Zealand Meat Exports October 2013 to June 2014:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first nine months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 30 June 2014).

[All monetary values are in New Zealand dollars.]

Summary

Despite the high New Zealand dollar, particularly during the main export months of January to June, there was an increase in the average value for lamb, mutton and beef/veal. A smaller national lamb crop flowed through to reduced lamb export volumes. However, for only the fourth time in history, lamb exports exceeded $2 billion Free On Board (FOB) in the first nine months of a season.  . . .

New veterinary resource to manage disease in cattle associated with Theileria:

A new veterinary handbook on Theileria, developed by the Theileria Working Group and published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), will help to ensure that veterinarians and their farmer clients are well prepared to manage the expected spring upsurge in infections with this important, new parasite of cattle.

The number of affected farms is expected to exceed those reported in the last two years with nearly 700 beef and dairy herds testing positive so far, with about a third of these occurring in the North Island this year.  . .

 Brown Re-Elected as Council Chairman for Third Term, Duncan Coull New Deputy Chair:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown has today been re-elected unopposed to the position for a third term.

Ian Brown: “I appreciate the support I continue to receive from Councillors and look forward to leading the Council for a further 12 months.”

Mr Brown is joined by first time Deputy Chair, Duncan Coull, also elected unopposed, who will take up his new role on 29 July for a 12 month term.
Mr Coull was elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and serves as the Chair of the Council’s Representation Committee. . . .


Working for NZ

July 11, 2014

National’s working for New Zealand.

Its policies are too which is reflected in more people in work and fewer dependent on welfare.

National is making good progress helping Kiwis off a benefit and into work. #Working4NZ http://ntnl.org.nz/1thz148

These are big numbers behind which are individual people whose lives are better thanks to policies which encourage growth and help people to help themselves.

These financial and social benefits are the reason why a focus on responsible management of the economy is one of National’s priorities.

The benefits of a growing economy are more than just good GDP figures. #Working4NZ http://ntnl.org.nz/1vYKBgt

The economy matters because sustainable social and environmental initiatives depend on its health.


Labour stands firm with no proof

July 10, 2014

The Labour Party is standing firm on its claim the Government has influenced police statistics, despite admitting it has no proof to back it up.

That stance isn’t confined to these accusations which not only smear the government but are an attack on the integrity of police too.

Labour is standing firm on several policies although the facts don’t support their stand.

Examples include:

* The belief that increasing tax rates will increase the tax take.

* The assertion that a capital gains tax will restrain property prices rises even though family homes are exempt and a CGT has not restrained property prices in other countries.

* The contention that adding fewer than one teacher per school will be better for children than improving the quality of teachers.

* The belief that what’s good for unions is good for workers.

* The belief that increasing the minimum wage will not have a negative impact on employment and business.

* The belief that adding costs and complexity to employing people won’t harm jobs.

* The claim that inequality is worsening.

* The belief that changing  KiwiSaver contribution rates would be a viable tool for reducing inflation.

* The assertions that National’s policies aimed at helping people from welfare to work are beneficiary bashing.

* The belief that governments are good at running businesses.

These are just a few of Labour’s policies and beliefs which aren’t supported by facts.

But the most erroneous belief is that they, a party riven by internal divisions, could lead a stable government with the support of the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties.


Nationwide job market grows

July 7, 2014

Good news for employment:

All regions across the country recorded growth in the number of jobs advertised on Trade Me Jobs according to an analysis of listings onsite in the April-June quarter.

Head of Trade Me Jobs, Peter Osborne, said the number of job listings nationwide was up 19% on the same period in 2013, continuing the healthy job market trend evident since the September quarter. “Growth in listings has been very strong, despite the potential handbrake effect of the unusual combination of Easter and Anzac Day holidays in March, and a Budget that had a cooling effect on the number of jobs advertised in May.”

Mr Osborne said most advertisers were upbeat. “We’re hearing plenty of optimistic reports from recruiters and employers, and the majority are planning to keep on hiring too.”

He said improved economic and employment opportunities in New Zealand also contributed to the lowest ever level of migration to Australia in May. “Kiwis are increasingly likely to stay in New Zealand which is good news for NZ Inc, and is also complemented by returning expats who have noticed things on the improve back here in New Zealand.”

The national picture
Mr Osborne said the lift in advertised roles in all regions was a “pretty unusual but very welcome” result. Auckland still shines brightly (up 21%), while Canterbury and Wellington maintained their considerable growth trajectories (up 21% and 15% respectively).

 Waikato was another standout performer with job ad growth of 24%, and Otago comfortably reached double digits with a 16% lift.

In the sectors
The demand for skilled workers is still high, with candidates in IT, engineering, construction and legal the most difficult to source. “Anyone with decent skills in these areas holds the balance of power at present, and they’re in a great position if they are hunting for new opportunities,” Mr Osborne said.

In terms of the number of jobs available, roles in trade (32%), construction (39%) and transport (29%) saw the highest jump compared to this time last year.

Mr Osborne said the average pay was flat at $60,881 nationally. “Pay levels holding firm is good news for employers, and a little unexpected given the tight labour market. If demand for workers continues to outstrip supply, wage inflation is inevitable as employers offer fatter pay packets in a bid to entice staff.”

Looking ahead
Mr Osborne said he remained upbeat about the coming months. “We’re confident the market will continue to grow despite the cool-down in May. Employer confidence remains high and there are still a number of sectors where candidates are in short supply and set to drive underlying growth.

“The Christchurch rebuild remains a major contributor and we’re seeing a shift in the type of demand from construction relate roles to professional and infrastructure roles.”

He said there was “no end in sight” for Auckland’s consistently high demand for skilled labour. “The City of Sails accounts for around 40% of all jobs advertised across the country, and will continue to be a beacon of opportunity.”

Job % change
Q2/2014 vs Q2/2013
Accounting - 1.6
Agriculture, fishing & forestry 34.7
Banking, finance & insurance - 0.3
Construction & architecture 39.1
Customer service 21.7
Education 6.7
Engineering 15.2
Government & council - 8.5
Healthcare 4.6
Hospitality & tourism 23.0
HR & recruitment 27.4
IT 7.5
Legal - 31.4
Manufacturing & operations 33.9
Marketing, media & communications 15.6
Office & administration 17.8
Property - 3.6
Retail 15.6
Sales 9.6
Science & technology 27.6
Trades & services 31.6
Transport & logistics 29.4
Overall 19.0

2. Average rates of pay by job (full-time jobs only): Q2/2014

Highest paid Pay rate ($)
1 IT architects 139,476
2 IT project managers 132,857
3 IT managers 123,164
4 IT sales & pre-sales 122,418
5 Doctors & medical specialists 120,633
Lowest paid Pay rate ($)
1 Kitchen staff 35,582
2 Health caregivers 37,252
3 Reception & front desk 37,637
4 Waiting staff 37,829
5 Retail assistants 37,982

3. Listings growth by region for Q2/2014

Region % change vs Q2/2013
Auckland 21.2
Bay Of Plenty 13.2
Canterbury 20.5
Gisborne 7.2
Hawke’s Bay 11.1
Manawatu / Wanganui 11.6
Marlborough 10.7
Nelson / Tasman 20.6
Northland 2.9
Otago 15.6
Southland 65.6
Taranaki 2.2
Waikato 23.7
Wellington 15.3
West Coast 48.7
Grand Total 19.0

4. Average rates of pay by region (full-time jobs only): Q2/2014

Highest paid Pay rate ($)
1 Auckland City 72,302
2 Wellington 70,234
3 Kawerau 66,105
4 New Plymouth 61,143
5 Buller 59,742
Lowest paid Pay rate ($)
1 Mackenzie (Canterbury) 42,333
2 Tararua 45,417
3 Horowhenua 46,036
4 Hauraki (Waikato) 47,095
5 Upper Hutt 47,863

NB: Segments with less than 50 jobs excluded.

It’s good to see a reduction in the government and council sector and an increase in export-earning industries like agriculture, fishing and forestry.


$16 minimum wage ‘just a start’

July 7, 2014

Labour is planning to lift the minimum wage from $14.25 to $16 an hour in its first year in government – and that’s just the start.

Unions have been lobbying Labour on the issue, but the pressure is still on; they want much more.

Labour leader David Cunliffe is comfortably nestled between Labour’s union affiliates.

“Colleagues, comrades – we are part of a broad labour movement,” says Mr Cunliffe.

The unions are strong within that movement. They are pushing hard for a jump in the minimum wage.

Labour has already indicated two increases in its first year – one before Christmas from $14.25 to $15 an hour, and today came the details of the second.

“Even that’s starting to look a bit stingy, so we’re looking at a further increase within the first year,” says Labour’s labour spokesperson Andrew Little. “I expect it will be up around $16 an hour.”

So $16 an hour by April next year – for the unions leaning on Labour, it’s a pay-off, but just a start.

A pay-off for unions but extra costs for employers, price increases for customers and less job security for workers.

“It needs to be more, above $18, but it certainly would be a big boost,” says president of the Auckland Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) Jill Ovens.

“I think the second increase needs to be more than $16; it needs to start moving to two-thirds of the average wage over the term of the Government,” says CTU president Helen Kelly. . .

New Zealand does have a problem with low wages.

But if pay increases are to be sustainable without boosting inflation and threatening jobs and the businesses which supply them, they have to be linked to productivity increases and the ability to pay them.

Add other Labour policies which will reduce flexibility and increase regulation and businesses and the jobs which rely on them will be even less secure.

Unions which regard a $16 minimum wage as just a start could find it is also the end to some jobs and some businesses.


Higher hiring

July 3, 2014

More good news on the economic and employment fronts:

Small business confidence has reached record highs in Canterbury, the wider South Island and Wellington, according to ANZ’s quarterly Business Micro Scope survey of small firms.

Nationally, sentiment fell back slightly in June from the previous quarter’s record levels, but remains well above the historical average.

Hiring intentions among small businesses nudged upwards to a new record high, auguring well for employment as the economy continues to expand.

Many business owners have now turned their attention to finding staff with the right skills to take their business forward, now cited as one of the biggest challenges for small firms.

Fred Ohlsson, ANZ’s Managing Director, Retail & Business Banking, said: “Small firms have made a clear statement that they’re still prepared to take on staff and invest amid challenges such as a high dollar. This optimism is encouraging and is testament to the wide array of forces now supporting the economy.

“Small firms account for 90 per cent of Kiwi businesses and provide jobs for nearly one in three New Zealanders. So when owners tell us they’re keen to take on more staff that’s a shot in the arm for employment nationally. Migration and training will be important in ensuring the skills are available to help them take their business forward.”

Highlights from the June 2014 ANZ Business Micro Scope survey of small firms:
[Net percentages reflect the balance of sentiment – i.e. positive minus negative responses]

Confidence among small businesses has remained at very high levels, just off the record heights recorded in the March quarter.

Hiring intentions are now at their strongest since comparable data was first collected in 1999, with a net +20% of firms planning to take on staff in the coming year.

Canterbury (up 9 points to +33%) took the biggest leap forward in confidence, making it the most confident region, alongside the rest of the South Island (up 2 points to +33%), followed by Wellington (up 1 point to +30%). These three regions hit new record highs in the June quarter.

Services (+30%) leapfrogged Construction (+27%) as the most upbeat sector, followed by Retail (+25%).

‘Lack of skilled employees’ and ‘regulation’ were jointly identified as the biggest challenges for small firms, each being cited by 17% of respondents. ‘Interest rates’ was identified as the biggest problem by just 4%.

While interest rates are a bit higher, that was well-signalled and they are still below the long-term average.

Lack of skilled employees is a perennial and growing problem and regulation is always on the small business nuisance-radar.

Continued confidence in the small businesses sector which is such a big player in our economy is another sign that New Zealand is on the right track with National and #TeamKey and they need #3moreyears to continue working for New Zealand.


Best month ever for commercial vehicle sales

July 3, 2014

June was the best month ever for sales of light and heavy commercial vehicles:

David Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association says “The strong New Zealand dollar, competitive pricing and New Zealanders confidence that the economy is heading in the right direction have all combined to help drive sales of new vehicles skywards as records continue to fall.”

“June sales of 12,519 new passenger and commercial vehicles is up 17% on June 2013 and 14% YTD on this time last year. Registrations of 4,002 new commercial vehicles for the month of June were phenomenal, not only being the strongest June sales since the MIA began collecting records for commercial vehicles in 1981, but the strongest month of any monthly commercial sales”.

There were 8,517 passenger vehicles sold during June, up 975 units (13%) on June 2013.

Year to date registrations of passenger vehicles is 4,550 units (11%) ahead of 2013.

Commercial vehicle registrations of 4,002 units were up 821 units (26%) on June 2013.

Year to date registrations of commercial vehicles is 3,134 units (21%) ahead of June 2013, reflecting a continued strong market for commercial vehicles. . .

Vehicle sales are an indicator of economic performance and confidence.

Most commercial vehicles are bought by businesses and the purchase reflects business optimism.

Oh – and some other people who are working in their communities and working for New Zealand as part of #TeamKey buy commercial vehicles too:

Had coffee with local business legend Danny Lendich at Coffee Club on Lincoln Rd, Danny loves the truck!!!


Labour’s two levels of minimum wage

July 2, 2014

BusinessNZ is not impressed by Labour’s intention to create two levels of minimum wage if it implemented its immigration policy:

The policy released on the weekend says low-paid migrants push wages down for New Zealanders, and a Labour government would make it compulsory for businesses to pay migrant workers at least the living wage, after accommodation deductions.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says having a minimum wage for New Zealanders and a higher minimum wage for migrant workers makes no sense.

“Whether it is called a living wage or any other name, it would basically be a higher minimum wage for migrant workers.

“The policy appears to be based on advice from a Lower Hutt church agency that promotes an arbitrary wage level without bearing accountability for that advice.

“This is hardly the way to make public policy.

“New Zealand’s skills shortage is a complex problem. It requires the education system to be delivering more needed skilled people. It requires students to be making more realistic study and career choices. In the absence of these, many employers are forced to seek migrant workers.

“Labour’s policy proposal to require higher rates of pay for migrant workers than New Zealand workers does not address our skills shortage problem and would create problems of its own.

The idea would create problems for workers and employers.

Local workers on one wage would rightly feel hard done by doing exactly the same work as immigrants but knowing they were paid less.

Problems employers already have getting enough staff willing and able to work would be exacerbated if immigrants were priced out of the market.

BusinessNZ sees other problems with Labour’s policy:

Labour’s new immigration policy would mean Immigration New Zealand would be given the power to make employers train New Zealanders before getting the nod to employ workers from overseas.

BusinessNZ says the policy released by Labour this weekend appears to convey employers are to blame for skills shortages in New Zealand.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says Labour’s policy is “wrongheaded.”

“What Labour’s doing is a bit worrisome because what they’re saying is they are going to be much tougher on employers.

“They’re saying you’ve got to skill up your workforce before you come knocking on the immigration door.”

He says the government needs to work with businesses to help solve the skill shortage.

“You can’t just train them all up in a week. Sometimes, no matter how much good work government does with employers and the likes in terms of training for some of those skills, they go overseas too.

“This is always going to be an issue, with the gap between the skills a business needs at any given time and what the skills system in New Zealand can deliver them.” . . .

Sometimes businesses can afford to take on someone and train them, sometimes they need someone already skilled.

Locals are usually the preferred option as it is because there’s usually extra administration involved in hiring immigrants.

But sometimes an immigrant will be more suited to the job than a local and employers don’t need more hurdles to jump before they can fill a vacancy.

New Zealand needs productive businesses to contribute to economic growth.

Their ability to do that will be compromised by Labour’s policy which is a thinly disguised attempt to limit immigration and looks like its been written by unions.


Labour’s anti-immigration policy written by unions?

June 30, 2014

Labour has released an anti-immigration policy :

Increasing points for those willing to work outside Auckland is good in theory but difficult to implement in practice.

Even if they could find a way to keep immigrants out of Auckland the aim of helping the regions is contradicted by the next bit:

. . . Labour will require employers bringing in overseas workers to pay a living wage (after accommodation deductions) where the job offer forms part of the reason the application is accepted. . . .

The living wage  is supposed to be the amount a family of four requires to live on. It has nothing at all to do with the value of the work done and will mean single people are getting more than they supposedly “need”.

Will this also apply to young people who come here with visas based on negotiations for reciprocal rights for New Zealanders in their countries?

Most of them are single and should be able to live very well on a lot less than a family of four would need.

This requirement would effectively shut them out of lots of jobs, many of which are seasonal and don’t appeal to locals. It would also threaten the reciprocal rights of young New Zealanders seeking work experience overseas.

“We will also ensure RSE workers are paid at the rate of at least the minimum wage plus $1.25 an hour, with accommodation provided in addition to wages. Employers in industries with skills shortages and low pay will be required to be involved in implementing training plans before they are given the right to bring in workers from overseas. . .

The RSE scheme is working well as it is and has safeguards against exploitation of workers.

Without these employees businesses would not be able to source enough workers for seasonal activities, particularly in harvesting horticultural produce, for which there aren’t enough locals.

Adding costs to production in this way would add to the cost of produce. That’s the fresh fruit and vegetables which Labour was going to exempt from GST before the last election because they said they were too expensive.

Making labour more expensive would mean the cost would have to be passed on to consumers which could dampen demand, or businesses would have to accept a lower profit, both could threaten their viability.

This policy appears to have been written by unions under the erroneous impression that immigrants are taking jobs from locals.

Employers want the best people for the job with the minimum of paper work and hassle.

Employing immigrants adds time and hassle to the process as it is, adding extra costs will make many immigrants unemployable.

Trevor Mallard launched the policy outside the National party conference on Saturday and hadn’t alerted the media.

It has had little exposure and perhaps that was deliberate because even he must know this is an anti-immigration, anti-regions policy.


The Land – your dream job

June 24, 2014

NZX-Agri has launched a nationwide campaign to shine the light on career opportunities in the primary sector:

The Land – Your Dream Job campaign was unveiled at the KPMG Agribusiness Leaders Breakfast at National Fieldays.

The campaign is being supported by Rabobank and KPMG research, which reveals a significant gap in the planning of many farming businesses, which could affect the productivity of one of New Zealand’s key primary industries.

“The campaign is a major initiative, which will bring into sharp focus the enormous range of opportunities the primary sector has to offer,” Young Country editor and campaign director Jackie Harrigan said.

“Meeting the challenge of attracting dynamic, entrepreneurial, and talented young people for our sector starts with exciting them with the diversity of career choices on offer, whether they are new to it or already part of it. 

“The sector caters for a wide range of people, from those who like hands-on work to those wanting to do a PhD.”

A campaign website – landyourdreamjob.co.nz – has been set up to provide resources and case studies to attract the brightest to the primary sector, Harrigan said. 

“The timing is absolutely right for this campaign. The Government has a commitment to doubling NZ’s primary sector export value by 2025 and it has recently been estimated this will create 50,000 new jobs, half of which will need a tertiary qualification. 

“We need to ensure young people want those jobs.” . . .

NZX Agri would be announcing a raft of initiatives during the campaign, through its publications, national and social media, and the campaign website, Harrigan said. 

A  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram presence had been important to get to the target market of young people searching for career options, she said. . .

Industry partners Vocational Pathways, NZ Kiwifruit Growers, Silver Fern Farms, Allflex, and Ospri have joined NZX Agri to get career stories in front of secondary students by sponsoring three copies of Young Country magazine into 500 secondary schools nationwide, starting next month.

“Reaching school libraries, careers advisers, and teachers will mean these resources should be in front of students, showcasing young people already in the industry, and helping them make informed career choices,” editor Jackie Harrigan said.

New Zealand is more urbanised and fewer people live in the country of have links to farms which means many of the opportunities in primary industries aren’t on the radar of young people when they’re thinking about careers.

This is a wonderful initiative to help change that and provide the workforce that will be needed on farms and in the businesses which support and supply them as primary industries grow.

The website is full of interesting information and features young people in a variety of jobs including Alex Harper a marketing assistant and app creator, shepherd Megan Cathro, agricultural analyst Rob Gibson and Sarah Crofoot who’s a policy advisor.


Can Labour see wood for trees?

June 24, 2014

The Green Party can’t see the wood for the trees.

It’s letting itself be blinded by its ideology to oppose the sensible, and environmentally sensitive, recovery of thousands of hectares of native trees felled by Cyclone Ita.

National’s West Coast-Tasman candidate lobbied Conservation Minister Nick Smith to allow the recovery and said:

. . .  that with the downturn in international coal and gold prices, the extra forestry and sawmilling work this decision “would be a welcome filler for jobs and economic activities on the West Coast”.

Sitting MP, Labour’s Damien O’Connor is not quite so enthusiastic:

West Coast-Tasman MP Labour’s Damien O’Connor said he wanted to read the bill before deciding how he would vote, although he thought National would “just” have the numbers to get it through.
He said on the face of it, it seemed logical, and trying to reduce waste from the storm and create opportunities was sensible: “Any opportunities for our region at the moment are welcome.”
However, they had to be mindful not to flood the market, and squeeze out existing operators. . .

Perhaps his caution is prompted by not being sure whether his party will back him if he supports the recovery.

It was Labour which stopped logging on the Coast and it’s in a difficult position.

It’s caught between knowing it should support something which will provide jobs even if it means supporting a government initiative, and not wanting to buy another disagreement with the party it’s most likely to need as a coalition partner if it’s too have any chance of forming a government this year.

That would mean it too take the short-sighted focus on the trees which nature felled of the wider view of the woods which could provide much-needed work for Coasters?


More good news

June 20, 2014

This is good news:

National’s economic plan is working.

And there is a link between record exports and  this:

National's economic programme is working. http://bit.ly/1iVcOn0


Another Labour policy lacks details

June 17, 2014

Labour has confirmed it will make KiwiSaver compulsory – without details and with exceptions:

. . . Under Labour’s policy, all employees not already in the scheme would be automatically enrolled on October 1 next year. Students and beneficiaries would be exempt.

Low income earners would also be exempt – but the details of the minimum threshold will be subject to consultation, Mr Cunliffe said.

The elephant in the KiwiSaver room that no-one mentions is that in a few decades there will be significant inequality amongst retirees – those with KiwiSaver and those without.

The poor are least likely to have KiwiSaver accounts and making it compulsory for everyone else will merely compound that.

Labour expects auto-enrolment would bring a further half a million people into the scheme.

“Most of those are low income earners who are missing out on getting their fair share of government contributions”, Mr Cunliffe told reporters at Parliament this morning.

“These workers will have higher incomes after Labour raises the minimum wage and the ramp up of their employee contribution will be slower.” . . .

Raising the minimum wage will do little for most people because any increase will be cancelled out by reductions in Working for Families and other assistance such as accommodation supplements.

Increasing employer contributions will also have a depressing impact on wages and job opportunities and also threaten job stability.

Adding costs to employment without increasing productivity would mean businesses would have to charge more for whatever they sell which would flow through to inflation.

The alternative would be to absorb the cost which would reduce profits. That in turn could threaten viability and would reduce their ability to invest more in their business and their staff.

This policy would leave most workers with left in their pay packets – without Labour’s other daft idea of altering KiwiSaver rates to control inflation.

Saving is good, but many people would be better paying off a mortgage or other debt than putting more in KiwiSaver.

But the worst of this policy is, like so many others of labour’s – is its vagueness. Once more the party shows it doesn’t do details.

Spin doctors don’t do numbers, but the Treasury secondee the party sacked would have.

A policy without details isn’t really a policy, it’s just a vague idea of what the party might or might not do should it get into government.


Rural round-up

June 15, 2014

Breeder takes on challenge - Tony Benny:

When Gerald Hargreaves took over the family farm from his father in the 1970s, he wasn’t very interested in the Angus stud his father had established in 1954. But a comment reported back to him by a friend fired him up.

“My father gave me some cows and I wasn’t really interested in the stud to be honest and I sold them, but thought I’d better not sell my father’s,” Hargreaves says.

“One of the opposition breeders said, ‘He probably doesn’t know what he’s doing, he should have sold the lot’. I said, ‘stuff you’ – it took someone to challenge me.” . . .

Kiwifruit growers upbeat at Fieldays:

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri has noticed a remarkable turnaround in the mood among growers coming to the national agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek this year.

Zespri grower and government relations manager Simon Limmer said a lot of kiwifruit growers were calling into its site, and the contrast with the past few years as they battled the PSA bacteria scourge could not be more striking.

“The mood is very positive, very optimistic, and on the back of three years of real uncertainty and a certain sense of desperation as to where this industry was heading – it’s a really good place to be,” Mr Limmer said.

“Growers are feeling positive the PSA situation looks to be manageable, we’re seeing volumes of gold kiwifruit recovering heading into the market – market returns are up across all varieties. . .

New graduates strengthen biosecurity frontline:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says 29 new biosecurity graduates will further strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system, and help safeguard our primary industries from pests and diseases.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) today welcomed 24 new quarantine inspectors and five new dog handlers at a ceremony in Auckland.

The new quarantine inspectors will be based at Auckland (15), Wellington (3) and Christchurch (6). Five new biosecurity detector dog teams will be split between Auckland (4) and Christchurch (1). . .

Forestry company fined after worker hit by log

Forestry company HarvestPro has been fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $40,000 after one of its workers was hit by a log weighing more than a tonne.

Tau Henare was working on a logging operation at Whakaangiangi on the East Coast when the incident occurred in September 2012. His job was to attach strops to fallen logs, which were then dragged up a hillside to be prepared for transport away from the forest.

Mr Henare was hit by a log that had come lose from the jaws of a loader on a landing above and slid down a steep hillside. He suffered fractures to his arm and leg that have required multiple surgeries and left him unable to work. . .

How to calculate the maximum number of hours an employee can work during calving and mating –  John Brosnan:

Over the last year or so there has been a lot of discussion in the media around farm practices in relation to keeping wage records, hours worked on farms and in particular employees not earning minimum wage within their pay period.

This was not helped by rumours that MBIE (the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment) were going to treat an accommodation allowance as a part of salary/wages differently from how IRD have traditionally viewed it. . . .

Goodman Fielder plans $27M upgrade of Christchurch milk factory to meet Asian demand - Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Goodman Fielder, the Australian food ingredients maker, will spend $27 million to expand its Christchurch ultra heat treated milk plant, giving it additional capacity to meet increased demand for its Meadow Fresh brand in Asia.

Work to extend the existing UHT building and install a new pasteurising, sterilising and palletising line as well as a new 250ml high-speed filler is expected to be completed by October 2015 and will boost production at the site by 50 percent, enabling it to process an extra 32 million litres a year, Sydney-based Goodman Fielder said in a statement. . .

Fun side of farming:

In just a few short weeks rural youth will be out in full force trying to prove they’ve got what it takes to be the 2014 AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Champions.

Close to seven hundred primary and secondary aged students battled it out in the seven Regional Finals across the country earlier this year. The top three teams from each region progressed through to the Grand Finals, set to be held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“These students have been preparing for months,” said Josie Hampton AgriKidsNZ & TeenAg Project Leader. “They pour everything they’ve got into this competition and it’s quite an honour for them to represent their schools at Grand Final.” . . .

Wool.i.am the star of new campaign for Cavalier Bremworth:

Long established New Zealand carpet maker Cavalier Bremworth has launched a quirky new ad campaign which focuses on its unique ability to manage the quality of its wool carpet from the farm right to the floor. It’s also a celebration of having Kiwis on the job every step of the way.

View here at: http://goo.gl/FNqV97

The hero of the campaign continues to be its animated sheep (Wool-i.am) who takes a journey with the wool from the farm to its tufting plant in Auckland. Cavalier Bremworth, as part of parent company Cavalier Corporation, is the only carpet maker that owns and controls the whole process for wool carpet production – it owns a wool buying business, a half share in the country’s biggest wool scours in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay, and then its own dyeing and spinning plants in Napier, Wanganui and Christchurch. . .

 


Business risks from immigration curbs

June 12, 2014

Hospitality New Zealand is concerned about the threat of immigration restrictions:

Hospitality businesses are already struggling to find chefs and managers of restaurants and bars. The suggestion by some political parties that they want to further limit the industry’s access to migrant workers on work visas will severely limit the industry’s ability to meet the needs of New Zealand’s growing tourism market, says Adam Cunningham, President of Hospitality New Zealand. A recent survey of its members showed that 96.9% believe there are significant skill shortages for café, restaurant and bar managers, with over 58% taking three months or more to find suitable candidates. Of those finally employed, 50.4% were on some sort of work visa. The picture for chefs was similar with over 59% taking three months or more to find a suitable candidate of which 45.6% were on a work visa of some sort.

The industry has a priority to employ New Zealanders but they are simply not available in the numbers required. For restaurant, café and bar managers 38.5% of respondents had sought candidates from Work and Income with only 2.2% finding suitable candidates. The same story applied for chefs with only 2.1% finding suitable candidates from Work and Income.

These skill shortages are only going to get worse as the economy improves and tourism numbers grow. Any limitations on the ability to employ suitably skilled migrants would severely limit the industry’s ability to meet the growing demand, said Mr Cunningham.

Dairying, cropping and horticulture would also struggle without immigrants to work when they can’t find locals who can, or will.

Just as New Zealanders who travel overseas are welcomed by employers, overseas workers are welcome, particularly in seasonal work, here.

Employers are bound to employ locals first but sometimes the jobs don’t fit the applicants and sometimes the applicants don’t fit the job and when you’re running a business if you have someone willing and able to do the job, where they come from isn’t a concern.

There is an argument about social responsibility but employers often can’t afford the time needed to get those who aren’t work-ready up to the standard required. They also owe it to existing employees to ensure new ones help rather than hinder them.


Higher wages, lower benefits, higher costs

June 11, 2014

The law of unexpected consequences struck when the minimum wage was increased in the USA city of SeaTac:

. . . Every debate over increasing the minimum wage comes with predictions that the law of unintended consequences will result in the opposite of what a higher wage is designed to accomplish—a better standard of living for low-wage workers.  Employers cannot pay a worker more than the value of their output.  In other words, if an employer must pay a worker $15 per hour, they must ensure the worker produces at least that amount, or they must figure out a way to reduce the cost of that labor.  So forcing employers to pay workers an artificially high wage creates perverse incentives for employers to find other ways to cut labor costs.

One way employers are cutting their labor costs in SeaTac, which recently mandated a $15 per hour minimum wage for certain workers, is by stripping away the benefits they used to offer. 

Northwest Asian Weekly reports that employees earning the new wage in SeaTac have lost benefits such as 401k, paid holidays and paid vacation, free food, free parking and overtime hours.  One hotel waitress said she is earning less because tips have decreased since the high wage has been in effect.  In many cases these benefits plus the lower state minimum wage added more value to workers’ earnings than the new $15 wage.

As one SeaTac worker put it, “It sounds good, but it’s not good.” . . .

But workers aren’t the only ones paying more, consumers are too:

Many SeaTac businesses have tacked on an additional fee to mitigate the increased cost of labor.  On the receipt below, a $6.93 “living wage surchage” was added to a $84.00 parking charge.  That is the equivalent of a 8.25% tax.

Contrary to what supporters claim, increasing the minimum wage does not create jobs and stimulate the economy.  The higher wages are not free money.  The increased cost must either be absorbed by the employer, which is impossible for many who already operate on shoe-string profit margins, or it must be passed on to workers, in the form of reduced hours and benefits, and consumers, in the form of higher prices.  Either way, someone pays.

Another consequence of higher wages is increased mechanisation to reduce the need for staff.

McDonalds recently went on a hiring binge in the U.S., adding 62,000 employees to its roster. The hiring picture doesn’t look quite so rosy for Europe, where the fast food chain is drafting 7,000 touch-screen kiosks to handle cashiering duties.

The move is designed to boost efficiency and make ordering more convenient for customers. In an interview with the Financial Times, McDonald’s Europe President Steve Easterbrook notes that the new system will also open up a goldmine of data. McDonald’s could potentially track every Big Mac, McNugget, and large shake you order. A calorie account tally at the end of the year could be a real shocker. . .

Proponents of the so-called living wage here pay no heed to the fact that money for higher wages has to come from somewhere.

If the wage increases aren’t at least equalled by higher productivity and profits then costs have to be cut or prices increased and it’s the very people the policy is trying to help who will be hurt most by that.


Employment law changes working

June 11, 2014

Employment law changes are working as intended a  Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment research report shows.

The report evaluated the short-term outcomes of the 2011 changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Holidays Act 2003.

Key changes to the legislation included allowing all employers the option to use trial periods of up to 90 days, the ability for employees to cash in up to one week of annual holidays, and changes to union access and problem resolution processes.

The changes were designed to improve the operation of the labour market by achieving lower compliance costs for employers, faster problem resolution, greater clarity and more choice and flexibility for employers and employees.

MBIE’s Research, Evaluation and Analysis manager Abby Johnston says while it’s too soon to assess the full impact of the changes, there are indications that some of the changes are working as intended.

“The report shows that extending the use of trial periods to all employers has resulted in more employment opportunities, with one third of employers surveyed saying the provision has led to them hiring people they otherwise wouldn’t have.

Employers are far more likely to take on new staff when the risk of having to keep them if they’re not up tot he job is lower.

Contrary to claims by unions before the law was changed, it hasn’t encouraged employers to churn through staff. The time, effort and money involved in recruitment and training are too great to lead to employers exploiting the trial period

“The report also shows that changes to the Holidays Act have promoted flexibility and increased choices for employers and employees. Ongoing advice and education for both employers and employees will improve awareness around the amendments, which some are still getting to grips with.”  . . .

Lower compliance costs, faster problem resolution and greater clarity, and more choice and flexibility are better for both employers and employees.

The opposition and unions opposed the changes, as they do, failing to realise that while safeguards against exploitation are necessary, the easier it is to employ people and the more flexibility there is, the better for everyone.

The report is here.


Fairtrade fails the poor

June 2, 2014

A study into Fairtrade shows it fails the poor it purports to help:

Sales of Fairtrade-certified products from Uganda and Ethiopia are not benefiting poor farmworkers as profits fail to trickle down to much of the workforce, says a groundbreaking study.

The Fairtrade Foundation is committed to “better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”. But a UK government-sponsored study, which investigated the production of flowers, coffee and tea in Ethiopia and Uganda, found that “where Fairtrade flowers were grown, and where there were farmers’ groups selling coffee and tea into Fairtrade certified markets, wages were very low”.

Christopher Cramer, an economics professor at Soas, University of London and one of the report’s authors, said: “Wages in other comparable areas and among comparable employers producing the same crops but where there was no Fairtrade certification were usually higher and working conditions better. In our research sites, Fairtrade has not been an effective mechanism for improving the lives of wage workers, the poorest rural people.”

Researchers who collected detailed information on more than 1,500 people said they also found evidence of the widespread use of children being paid to work on farms growing produce for Britain’s leading ethical label. . . .

Fairtrade is supposed to help the poor, improving their wages and cutting out costs between workers and customers.

Fair Trade, organic and sustainability certification organizations make claims that they reduce poverty and improve sustainability – through price premiums, ownership stakes, higher output demand, more environmentally sustainable production conditions, and/or ‘civil society empowerment’ activities.

3

Unfortunately, there is a bewildering variety of schemes, with varying content to their certification processes and auditing procedures. . .

This research was unable to find any evidence that Fairtrade has made a positive

difference to the wages and working conditions of those employed in the production of the commodities produced for Fairtrade certified export in the areas where the research has been conducted. This is the case for ‘smallholder’ crops like coffee – where Fairtrade standards have been based on the erroneous assumption that the vast majority of production is based on family labour – and for ‘hired labour organization’ commodities like the cut flowers produced in factory – style greenhouse conditions in Ethiopia.

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In some cases, indeed, the data suggest that those employed in areas where there are Fairtrade producer organisations are significantly worse paid, and treated, than those employed for wages in the production of the same commodities in areas without any Fairtrade certified institutions (including in areas characterised by smallholder production).

At the very least, this research suggests that Fairtrade organizations need to pay far more attention to the conditions of those extremely poor rural people – especially women and girls – employed in the production of commodities labelled and sold to ‘ethical consumers’ who expect their purchases to improve the lives of the poor.

The FTEPR research design did not set out to capture comprehensive data on child labour. However, in the quantitative survey results and especially in the qualitative life’s work interviews, the fact of widespread wage labour by children and teenagers (specifically, children working for wages and during school time) was inescapable.

 Another issue of importance both to the Fairtrade literature and more widely is the governance and structure of producer cooperatives. . . . The research finds a high degree of inequality between members of these cooperatives, i.e. the area cultivated with the certified crop (tea and coffee) and the share of the cooperative’s output are very unevenly distributed among members: there are large numbers of members who have tiny plots of land and sell very little to the cooperative, and there is a small number of members who dominate sales to and through the cooperative. One clear implication of this is that the many benefits of being a member of a Fairtrade certified cooperative – tax breaks, direct marketing channels to high – value niche markets, international donor financed subsidies – accrue very unequally.

 Fairtrade may ‘work’ but it does not quite do what it says on most of the labels: it aggravates rural inequality and at best may do so by supporting the emergence of rural capitalist producers; and it fails to make a difference, on the data collected, to the welfare of the poorest people involved in the Fairtrade chain, i.e. manual agricultural wage workers.

If Fairtrade does not make a positive difference in these research areas to the wages and working conditions of manual workers, then it is challenging to explain what accounts for this and what does make the most difference to wages and conditions. . .

That Fairtrade doesn’t  help the poor by improving wages is bad enough.

That there’s widespread use of child labour to provide produce for supposedly ethical Fairtrade labels is even worse.

Fairtrade is a supposedly ethical brand.

Fair trade is supposedly ethical commerce which helps the poorest producers and workers.

This report shows it fails to live up to its promise, at least in the places studied.


Rural round-up

May 9, 2014

Solid Energy sells farms - Collette Devlin:

Solid Energy has sold its Southland dairy farms, but the state-owned company is yet to release the price it got.

About 2,000 hectares of the Eastern Southland rural property was sold by tender.

The properties included three dairy farms, two dairy support or conversion farms, and four properties considered as dairy support farms.

The farms, ranging from 33ha to 399ha, were within a 5-kilometre radius between Mataura and Gore.
Solid Energy bought the properties to secure access to the large lignite coal resource in the district, but no longer required the land. . .

Robo cows ready for milking – Diane Joyce:

Robots will be milking cows in Havelock North by early next year, and everyone will be able to stop in and see for themselves how it works.

Dairy farming could become a substantial earner for Hawke’s Bay if the latest robot technology is taken up by farmers, says the man behind the plan, Michael Whittaker.

A state-of-the-art 3500 square metre dairy barn is being built, in which the cows will decide how often they want to be milked and how often they want to head outside into the sunshine. For the 120 cows there will be two “self-milking” bays, to which the cows can wander whenever they chose. . .

Steady rise in milk prices over 50 years – Andrea Fox:

The milk price paid to dairy farmers has increased by an average of 11c a kilogram of milksolids a year over the past 50 years, new analysis by DairyNZ shows.

For DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman that was one of most interesting findings of the industry organisation’s economic survey for 2012-13, which also marked 50 years of economic analysis of key financial data from dairy farmers.

“That the milk price has continued to increase is not a recent phenomenon, although in the last 25 years it has shown more volatility and even increased volatility in the past six or seven years,” Newman said.

The trend had implications for farmers around risk management and how to manage changing prices, he said.  . .

MBIE’s dairy farm employee position statement positive:

With the employment practices of dairy farmers in the media spotlight, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Labour Inspectorate’s newly released position statement, is to be followed up by both Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.

“Dairy farmers can expect a joint Industry Best Practice Guidance note next week,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson.

“Both Federated Farmers and DairyNZ endorses MBIE’s common sense position statement, which not only reminds employers about the Minimum Wage Act 1983, but reminds them ‘seasonal averaging’ has gone the same way as 245-T. . . .

Scales’ target continued growth - Alan Williams:

Apple grower Scales Corporation expects to lift production every year until about 2020 to take advantage of increasing demand in Asian and Middle East markets.

Apple consumption was growing strongly in big-population markets such as Thailand, China, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates, and was growing in India, chief executive Andy Borland said.

Scales subsidiary Mr Apple had been steadily replanting its Hawke’s Bay orchards with redder, sweet varieties such as Gala, NZ Queen, and Fuji, Borland said.

It was getting the increased production now and that would continue, because apples took 5-7 years to reach production peak, he said. . .

Tasked to wake sleeping giant – Alan Williams:

Nick Berry is off to work for the opposition, but he has never seen it that way.

In his 30 years in Fonterra’s retail store business RD1, it was always RD1 as a dairy specialist and PGG Wrightson a sheep-and-beef farm supplier.

“We didn’t see Wrightson as a real competitor. It was more CRT and Farmlands as the competitors,” Berry said.

Because of that background it isn’t such a big wrench that he’s going now to help Wrightson build its supply network to dairy farmers.

“We spoke of it as more of a sleeping giant, with its 100-plus stores, and I’ll be happy to help it grow,” he said. . .


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