Unholy mess

April 23, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says Easter trading laws aren’t working well and need to be changed.

He’s right on both counts, the law is an unholy mess.

Anyone can trade in Queenstown and Taupo but only some can in neighbouring Wanaka and Rotorua.

Outside the designated tourist areas a petrol station or dairy can sell magazines and milk but a book shop and supermarket can’t.

We were in Wanaka at the weekend, the town was full and almost all shops were open every day.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has released a statement saying it doesn’t discuss its enforcement approach with external parties and that it takes a reactive approach to trading laws, only investigating when complaints are made.

As of 1pm today, MBIE had received 18 complaints, most of them in the North Island, but one from Wanaka. . . .

At least we now don’t have the ridiculous situation of MBIE staff working to police those who shouldn’t be working, but having some busy-bodies reporting businesses doing what they shouldn’t in one place when they could in another isn’t much better.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has been trying to get some sense into the situation but it’s a conscience vote and with the left block voting the union way she hasn’t been able to get the numbers.

But one of the guests on RadioNZ’s panel last week came up with a compromise that might work – treat Good Friday and Easter Sunday like Anzac Day – have all businesses close in the morning but able to open in the afternoon.

This would be a compromise which won’t please everyone, but it would be better than the unholy mess we have now.


What about the other workers?

April 21, 2014

Keeping Stock has found another SMOG (social media own goal)  from Labour:

 

The first blooper is that he’s moved health professionals and police to the the manufacturing sector.

The second is that by singling out just two groups of people he’s ignored all the others  in hospitals and outside who work through holidays.

What about the other workers – the ones in hospitality, media, retail, transport, travel, tourism, entertainment . . .

And let’s not forget farming.

Oh and politics – Cunliffe might have all the weekend off buy I know my MP, Jacqui Dean will be on duty at the the Mackenzie A&P Show today,


World’s toughest job

April 18, 2014

Who would want a job like this?

Here’s a pretty cool project from Mullen for a client we won’t immediately reveal, lest we spoil the surprise. (Scroll down to the bottom of credits, or watch the video to find out.)

The Boston agency posted this job listing online for a “director of operations” position at a company called Rehtom Inc. The requirements sounded nothing short of brutal:

• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0

The job ad got 2.7 million impressions from paid ad placements. Only 24 people inquired. They interviewed via webcam, and their real-time reactions were captured on video.

Check out what happened below. It’s worth watching to the end.  


Seeking interest in social bond pilots

April 14, 2014

The Ministry of Health is seeking groups interested in social bond pilots:

A new and innovative alternative to the way social services are delivered has come a step closer, Minister of Finance Bill English and Health Minister Tony Ryall say.

The Government last year agreed to a social bonds pilot and people are now able to register their interest in becoming an intermediary in the pilot programme.

An intermediary is a person or group who brings investors and service providers together. The intermediary uses their skills in project management and finance to raise funds and drive performance to achieve agreed outcomes. 

“The Government does not have all the answers to our communities’ problems and social bonds are one new way to involve investors and private or not-for-profit organisations in improving social outcomes, while achieving value for taxpayers,” Mr English says. 

Mr Ryall says social bonds give service providers greater freedom and flexibility to use private capital and expertise to deliver services to their communities – with the Government paying a return depending on achievement of agreed outcomes.

“This shifts risk from the taxpayer and provides an incentive for our investment community to use its expertise for generating results in the social sector,” Mr Ryall says.

Social bonds trials are underway in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia where examples of their use include targets of reducing reoffending, increasing employment, improving outcomes for children in care, and improving management of chronic health conditions.

In New Zealand, service providers have submitted their ideas and a shortlist is being compiled by the Ministry of Health, which is leading cross-agency work on the pilot.

“We’re still in the early stages here but progress from the overseas pilots is encouraging,” says Mr Ryall.

“We see potential for social bonds to deliver better results and attract investment to preventative services and we think the time is right to pilot this model here.”

Mr English says there is a strong alignment between the social bonds model and many of the other initiatives being put in place across government like Better Public Services where the focus is on achieving results for the investment New Zealanders make in public services through their taxes.

“If successful, the social bonds pilot might attract investment and offer lessons that could be used for contracting in future, including further social bonds,” Mr English says.

How refreshing, and encouraging, to have a government which admits it doesn’t have all the answers and is willing to try a different approach to solve problems.

Rewarding achievement puts the risk with the provider while giving them a strong incentive to succeed.

This isn’t just throwing money at problems, it’s aimed at getting solutions.

More information of Social Bond Pilots is here.


Employment optimism rising

April 1, 2014

Optimism about jobs is at its highest since the GFC:

New Zealand employment confidence has risen in the first quarter, suggesting the labour market is starting to reflect a general upturn in the economy.

The Westpac McDermott Miller Employment Confidence Index rose to 109.4 in the first three months of 2014, from 103.4 in the final quarter of 2013.

The index is now at its highest level since the global financial crisis and ensuing recession although it is still weaker than before the recession hit, according to Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens.

While households’ perceptions of job opportunities improved to the best reading since December 2008, it is still deeply negative at a net -32 percent from -46.9 percent.

“The fruits of New Zealand’s economic upturn are increasingly becoming apparent to workers and jobseekers,” Mr Stephens said. . . .

Confidence is still weaker than before the recession but the trend is upwards which is encouraging and GDP growth means it is likely to get better.
• Real GDP grew by a robust 0.9% in the December 2013 quarter, and the current account deficit narrowed sharply.
• All signs remain consistent with the economy maintaining significant momentum in the first half of 2014.

• International economic data were broadly positive, despite financial market jitters.

 


Baa-rnstorming the Lourve

March 30, 2014

Visitors to the Louvre got more than they baa-rgained for yesterday:

It was more je ne sais baa than quoi at the Louvre museum this morning as a flock of sheep and their farmers stormed the Paris landmark.

The protesters were from the Farmers’ Federation, who carried banners reading “PAC’astrophe” in reference to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, which is under reform.

They were objecting to the effects of the industrialisation of agriculture, saying they feared for farmers’ jobs. . . .

Change is difficult but necessary.
We can be grateful that difficult as it was at the time, being thrust into the real world in the 1980s has made agriculture in New Zealand stronger.
Without those changes New Zealand would not be leading the developed world in economic growth nor would we be able to afford so much of the imports and social services which depend on export income.

 


Where the living wage will lead

March 6, 2014

One of the criticisms of the living wage is that it takes no account of the relationship between the cost of an employee and the value of his or her work.

If the cost gets out of kilter with the value the employer is going to look for alternatives like this:

. . . In the new concept video, Pizza Hut swaps out the tables at its dine-in restaurants for massive touch-screen displays. Once you sit down, the first thing you’ll do is place your smartphone on the electronic table, activating the display and automatically signing into your own personalized account. Then you’ll design your pizza using the interactive screen before finalizing your order and paying through your device. Finally, the display lets you and your friends play popular mobile games while you wait. . .

This is only a concept, it will be a long time before it is implemented, if it ever is.

People will still be needed to cook the pizzas, bring them to the table and clean up after the diners but technology like this could reduce the number of waiting staff needed.

The more expensive staff become, the greater the cost of employing people in relationship to the value they provide, the more attractive technology to replace them becomes.

Hat tip: AEIdeas

 

 


Jobs go, jobs come

March 4, 2014

Dunedin had some good news yesterday:

Dunedin’s Wall Street mall is to be redeveloped to cater for an expansion of Fisher & Paykel’s operation in the city, which is expected to provide about 70 jobs.

The whiteware company wants to extend its existing lease of office and laboratory space in the Dunedin City Council-owned Wall Street complex in George Street.

This is to provide the design and call centre with capacity for a total of 230 staff, enabling the continuation of a growth plan that will see a 40% increase in design staff numbers by 2018. . .

Another good news story:

Dunedin-based cancer diagnostic company Pacific Edge is to receive $4.5 million in government grants towards research and development over the next three years.

Pacific Edge’s bladder diagnostic tool Cx-bladder is marketed in New Zealand, Australia, the US and soon Europe, and the listed Dunedin company holds patents for diagnostic and prognostic tests across a range of cancers, including colorectal, gastric and melanoma.

Pacific Edge chief operations officer Jimmy Suttie said the Government’s Callaghan Innovation Fund recognised the ability of Pacific Edge to turn scientific discovery into products which brought real benefits. . . .

It also had some bad news:

A sawmill company with about 400 employees and about $100 million in annual sales has been placed in receivership.

Brendan Gibson and Michael Stiassny, of KordaMentha, were this afternoon appointed as receivers of Dunedin-headquartered Southern Cross Forest Products.

The company has four sites in Mosgiel, Milton, Balclutha and Milburn around Dunedin and another site in Thames. In 2012, the last figures available, the company generated revenue of just under $95m. . .

There’s no good time to be worried about job security but it’s not as bad if job growth is strong.

Businesses come and go and so do jobs, and at the moment there’s more coming than going.

 

Photo: More jobs, more opportunities. Under National, New Zealand is going in the right direction. http://www.national.org.nz/bga.aspx


Why stop at $15?

February 25, 2014

Labour Minister Simon Bridges announced the minimum wage will increase from $13.75 an hour to $14.25.

 . . The Starting-Out and training minimum wages will increase from $11 an hour to $11.40 an hour, which is 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage.

“Setting these wage rates represents a careful balance between protecting low paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost,” says Mr Bridges.

“The increase announced today balances the needs of both businesses and workers and will have minimal impact on the wider labour market and inflationary pressures.

“This increase will keep the minimum wage at around 50 per cent of the average hourly rate, which is the highest rate in the OECD.

“The Government is firmly focussed on growing the economy and boosting incomes. Through our Business Growth Agenda we are creating opportunities to help grow more jobs in New Zealand, for New Zealanders.” . . .

That nearly half those surveyed think that’s not enough goes to show most people don’t understand the issues.

The only sustainable way to increase wages is by economic growth.

Without an increase in productivity and profit, an increase in wage rates will result in a decrease in job numbers.

The Green Party doesn’t understand that.

The Greens would have immediately raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today. . .

Why stop there?

“Around 125,000 kids live in families where the adults earn less than the living wage. It is in the government’s hands to end poverty for working families and improve the lives of those kids. . .

Those families get Welfare for Families through which those with two children pay no net tax until they earn $50,000. Any increase in their pay will reduce their welfare. That’s less money from public coffers but they’ll be no better off and could be worse off if jobs are lost.

That living wage is an arbitrary figure and last week’s increase in it was based on different methodology from the original figure:

The ‘new’ living wage has shifted the goalposts and appears to be more about politics than public policy, says BusinessNZ.

Last year the living wage campaign said $18.40 should be the living wage, calculated on the basis of the living costs of a family of four.

The promoters now say the living wage for this year should be updated to the higher rate of $18.80.

“But the report shifts the goalposts,” BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said.

“The increase from $18.40 to $18.80 is not based on the same methodology as last year.

“Using the same methodology, for the same family of four, would show the new living wage should really be $22.89.

“If last year’s formula said $18.40 was needed for a living wage, and the same calculations now show $22.89 is required, why isn’t the campaign seeking $22.89 an hour?” Mr O’Reilly asked.

“Either the original calculations were flawed, or the campaign is just picking numbers out of thin air.”

Mr O’Reilly said decision makers could not have confidence that the living wage figures were soundly based.

“This switch in the figures used is important for taxpayers and ratepayers who are being asked to pay for the campaign. Wellington ratepayers are now funding the living wage policy for council employees and taxpayers would be funding it for all government employees under Labour Party policy.

“There can be no confidence in a living wage proposal set on an arbitrarily changing basis.”

The whole concept of a living wage which decrees everyone should be paid enough to support a family of four, regardless of what the work they do is worth, is flawed.

For the record, all our staff are paid more than the minimum wage.

That’s a decision we make in negotiation with them taking into account their skills and experience, what they’re required to do, the value of all of that and what the business can afford.


$70m benefits from irrigation

February 24, 2014

Two relatively small irrigation schemes in North Otago bring big benefits:

An estimated $77 million a year has been pumped into the North Otago economy from irrigation schemes in the Kurow-Duntroon area, $70 million more than if the area had stayed dry.

A report commissioned by the Waitaki Irrigators’ Collective Ltd (WIC) said the schemes – both owned privately and by two companies – had created 150 jobs in the immediate area and another 360 jobs in the Waitaki region. . .

The study covered 8000ha of irrigated land from the the Maerewhenua District Water Resources Company and Kurow-Duntroon Irrigation Company (formerly the Upper Waitaki company), as well as private, independent schemes.

WIC policy manager Elizabeth Soal said the study was also prompted by changes in technology, new demands for water and pressure to increase efficiency of use.

Already, some change had occurred. The Maerewhenua scheme had expanded its command area from 800ha to more than 2000ha, and was also returning some of the water being used now to the Maerewhenua River. . .

The report found irrigation in the Kurow and Duntroon area directly contributed $77 million of revenue to the local economy annually, compared to about $7 million without irrigation. That led to flow-on benefits of $106 million of revenue annually for the district and $327 million of revenue for New Zealand a year, compared with $14 million and $30 million respectively, if there was no irrigation.

There were 180 full-time positions in the study area, but there would only be 30 without irrigation.

Irrigation in that area had created 360 additional jobs at the district level, and 1150 at the national level.

The social impacts of irrigation included stable primary school rolls in the study area compared with declining rolls in the Waitaki district, a higher proportion of the population in full-time employment, and a significant increase in building consent activity over the past 10 years, all of which indicate economic activity was on the increase. . .

These positive results from irrigation can be seen with other schemes in North Otago and further afield.

Without it we’d be plagued by recurring droughts.

Now when droughts come we can still grow grass and crops, feed stock, produce food, earn money, employ staff, pay for services and buy supplies all of which spreads the benefits well beyond the farm gate.


Labour TV

February 18, 2014

Are Maori and Pacific programmes on television politically neutral?

Several times when I’ve watched the Maori news programme Te Karere, or Tangata Pacifica I’ve wondered if they were biased towards the left in general and Labour in particular. Revelations by TV3  add fuel to my suspicions:

3 News can reveal state broadcaster TVNZ is being used as a campaign base by Labour Party activists.

They’ve even held a meeting in TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Unit aimed at fundraising for Labour.

The unit’s manager, Shane Taurima, has held ambitions to become a Labour MP and his staff have been arranging Labour Party business, using TVNZ facilities like email.

Mr Taurima has resigned following the revelation.

Mr Taurima’s a Labour Party activist. He could be standing as a Labour MP this election.

Documents obtained by 3 News show the state broadcaster is being used to help Labour’s cause.

Labour’s electorate committee for the Auckland Maori seat Tamaki Makarau has been using TVNZ as a base.

Last year, a meeting was held at the Maori and Pacific unit’s Hobson headquarters, next to TVNZ’s main building, with Labour Party activists swiped through security.

On the agenda was “fundraising” – making money for the Labour Party.

The unit produces news, current affairs and documentary programmes like Te Karere, Marae Investigates and Waka Huia. Mr Taurima has managerial and editorial control. . .

Using a workplace for political, or any other activity, without the employers’ permission is wrong but that would be between the employer and staff in a private business.

This employer isn’t a private business. It’s a publicly funded state broadcaster which is supposed to provide fair, balanced and politically neutral reporting.

Is it my bias which makes some of the Maori and Pacific programmes seem biased or has the political activism of some employees influenced what’s been broadcast?

The national in RadioNZ National has nothing to do with the party, it’s used in the sense of nationwide.

TVNZ’s board and management must ensure that anything to do with labour at the state broadcaster is in the sense of work, not the party or politics.


Growing, growing

February 15, 2014

Businesses come and go and jobs come and go with them.

If yours is one of the businesses or jobs that go it’s hard.

But at least if it happens now, there’s more growing than going, the chances of finding another job are better.

New Zealand National Party's photo.


The manufactured crisis

February 14, 2014

Remember the manufactured manufacturing crisis the opposition spent so much of their energy and our money on last year?

The news on it is bad for them but very good for the rest of us:

New Zealand’s manufacturing sector started 2014 on a healthy note, according to the latest BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI).

The seasonally adjusted PMI for January was 56.2 (a PMI reading above 50.0 indicates that manufacturing is generally expanding; below 50.0 that it is declining). The sector has now been in expansion for 16 consecutive months, with the last six months also averaging 56.2.

BusinessNZ’s Executive Director for Manufacturing Catherine Beard said that despite the usual seasonal effects of Christmas and the holiday season, the sector has begun the way it finished off 2013.

“Positive comments from manufacturers revolved around a growing confidence by consumers, further gains in building construction and continued high levels of new orders, both domestically and offshore. In particular, the metal product sector is currently benefitting from the strong residential construction boom, which will no doubt continue for some months to come.”

BNZ Economist Doug Steel said it would be easy to understand if the PMI had lost a bit of heat in January, given the hefty lift in the NZD/AUD exchange rate. But the PMI has barrelled on, as domestic demand strengthens. . . .

This provided the opportunity in Question Time yesterday:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Of the 16 different industries measured by the household labour force survey, employment rose in 11, including manufacturing, which does debunk another myth often heard around this building. There is no doubting that the high New Zealand dollar is a challenge for exporters, but the January Performance of Manufacturing Index, which was released today, shows manufacturing has now been in expansion for 16 consecutive months, which is, weirdly, precisely the exact same time since the Opposition announced the start of its inquiry into a manufacturing crisis. I quote from the Performance of Manufacturing Index today, which says that manufacturing punched above its weight regarding job growth in 2013. It accounted for 13.5 percent of jobs added in the New Zealand economy overall last year, which is more jobs than were added in Australia in the same period. . .

There is a cloud on the horizon though:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: . . .  The Government has more than 350 initiatives under the Business Growth Agenda that are helping businesses grow, because that is how employment grows. I contrast this with policies that would put a chill on industries, that would cause their hiring intentions to freeze, and companies themselves might not even survive—for example, if you nationalise the electricity industry or double the cost of the emissions trading scheme on households and businesses, or if you impose new taxes on every single business in the country. . . .

The left demonise business without realising its the goose that lays the golden eggs of employment and economic growth.

The recovery is real but it’s not yet robust and a change of government with policies that would undermine business confidence could easily reverse the hard-won progress that’s being made.

 

 

 


National’s plan is working

February 12, 2014

National’s plan for a brighter future is working – and as a consequence so are more young people:

The latest HLFS employment figures show the Government’s focus on young people is paying off, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett say.

“An increase of 28,500 (9.3 per cent) 15 to 24 year-olds in work over the past year and the lowest number of young people not being in employment, education, or training since 2008 is promising news for them and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

“Through our Business Growth Agenda the Government has been investing heavily in education and training to lift the skills and qualifications of our young people while matching the needs of employers.

“Initiatives such as Youth Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Reboot and Maori and Pasifika Trades Training are proving very successful in providing young people with important skills they will have for life.”

Mrs Bennett says the Government’s investment in youth services as part of the welfare reforms was also having a big impact in reducing the number of NEETs.

“Government funded youth providers are actively supporting 9,602 NEETs to get enrolled and remain in education, training or work based learning,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The Government’s Job Streams subsidies are encouraging more employers to give young people a go in good jobs with training. Thanks to these subsidies 2,578 young people got jobs.

“The Government is proud of what we are achieving in making a real difference for young people to get work and to get on with a bright future ahead of them.”

Employment has been lagging other positive indicators so this improvement is very encouraging.

Youth who go from school to a benefit are likely to stay on it for longer at a huge cost to them and the country financially and in terms of social outcomes like poorer health and a greater likelihood of committing crimes.

Keeping young people in education or getting them into training or work has both social and economic benefits for them and the rest of us.
>National’s focus on young people is paying off and making a real difference: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43060


Should be easier to sack

February 10, 2014

Quote of the day:

. . . Policy announcements will need companion steps to help them succeed.

For instance, National’s plan to improve leadership and teaching needs to ensure employment law enables prompt pathways for dismissing principals or teachers who are not able to lift their performance sufficiently. Current arrangements are cumbersome and do not act in the interests of children. . .  Linwood Avenue School’s principal Gerard Direen.

It isn’t only schools which find it difficult to sack people who aren’t up to the job they’re employed to do.


Making stuff up

February 6, 2014

It’s so much easier to be in opposition when there’s a lot of bad news around.

Then the politicians can bring out the metaphorical sack cloth and ashes and say how bad things are.

It’s much harder to do that when there’s a growing trend of positive announcements, but that doesn’t stop them trying, even if they have to ensure the facts don’t get in the way of their stories:

Greens leader Russel Norman has joined his Labour colleague David Cunliffe in being caught making stuff up about the economy, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“Dr Norman really does need to be held to account when he alleges National has failed to grow jobs and wages – when the official statistics show the opposite is true,” Mr Joyce says.

“In the past year alone, 66,000 more people have jobs across New Zealand – the biggest annual increase since 2006.

“And the best source of wage movements is the Quarterly Employment Survey, which the Greens and Labour have agreed over the years to use as the basis for paid parental leave and New Zealand Superannuation.

“Using this measure, average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent over the year to December, while inflation was only 1.6 per cent. So, on average, wages are continuing to rise faster than inflation.

“The gains are more significant when measured on an after tax basis. The average weekly earnings, after tax, have gone up 25 per cent since September 2008, compared to inflation of 10 per cent over the same period.

“The Greens and Labour continue to deliberately use the wrong measure of actual wage growth by quoting the Labour Cost Index. In doing so, they are misleading New Zealanders.”

Photo: We are heading in the right direction.

And another piece of positive news:


Employment up, unemployment down

February 5, 2014

Employment has lagged behind other encouraging announcements but the labour market is strengthening and unemployment has fallen to a three-year low:

The labour market continues to grow and unemployment has fallen to 6.0 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. There were 24,000 more people employed in the December 2013 quarter, following an additional 28,000 in the September quarter.

Over the December 2013 year, the number of people employed rose 3.0 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 1.9 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES).

“We’re seeing strength across the labour market, particularly in the industries that provide services,” industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The unemployment rate has been falling and employment rising for the last 18 months, with both now at levels last seen in early 2009.”

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and ordinary time wage rates, remained steady at 1.6 percent in the December 2013 quarter. Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the QES, rose 2.9 percent over the year – up from 2.6 percent in the September quarter.

 

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says this is further evidence that the New Zealand economy is heading in the right direction.

“What is pleasing is the growth is right across the country and shows the Government’s responsible economic policies and comprehensive Business Growth Agenda is creating the opportunities for businesses to invest and employ more people.”
Highlights include:

  • The labour force participation rate increased 0.3 per cent to 68.9 per cent – the second highest since records began in 1986. Female participation rose 0.4 per cent to 63.4 per cent – the highest level since the HLFS began
  • The rate for youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) for 15-24 year olds fell 0.1 per cent to 11.3 per cent – the lowest rate since December 2008
  • Māori and Pasifika unemployment are both down. Māori unemployment rate was 12.8 per cent (from 14.8 per cent a year ago). Pasifika unemployment rate was 13.7 per cent (from 16.0 per cent a year ago)
  • Manufacturing jobs are up 6 per cent in the last year or 14,300 people.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate remains better than most OECD countries and is just behind Australia (5.8 per cent). New Zealand has a significantly higher employment rate than Australia because of our higher participation rate. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.8 per cent. 

Wages continue to rise faster than inflation. Average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent in the last year, compared to inflation of 1.6 per cent.

“While steady progress is being made, as a country we need to remain focused on encouraging investment that will bring jobs, and higher incomes for New Zealanders and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

Six percent is still too high but the improvement is welcome and increased business confidence means it is likely to continue.


Straight talk in sits vac

February 5, 2014

An advertisement on TradeMe:

Matt Ford Contracting Ltd are on the hunt for some decent staff!
In previous ads we seem to get plenty of people that can’t read properly or have grossly warped opinions of themselves (and or) their abilities. In an ad when we state things we want – that’s what we want. eg, if we say you need to be very fit, honest, reliable, and trustworthy we mean exactly that not unfit, dishonest, unreliable and untrustworthy Pretty Simple really! With this in mind read on or go read the woman’s weekly.
We are an agricultural spraying operation situated in North Canterbury and operate from Mid Canterbury to Marlborough.
Our business is based on getting the job done quickly, efficiently and completed to a very high standard i.e. Old School. The job is best suited to the classic “get down to business Kiwi bloke” not the “pot smoking, drop kick, wissy teenage Kiwi joke”. The following is a list of attributes that will go a long way to getting you a job with us ( and funnily enough surviving in life!):
Being Steve Gurney fit, Have a passion for the outdoors, Be happy and prepared to work long hours, Be happy and prepared to work away from home, Be honest, trustworthy and reliable, Be able to use, respect gear and not bring the company’s name into disrepute, Have a car and valid drivers licence (4WD experience useful), Be able to communicate clearly via speech (not text language), Be able to work and live with a team of like minded people – eg cook, clean, wash dishes, shower and keep your room tidy (all very basic potty training).
If you fit the bill with the things mentioned above you may very well be one of an endangered species – Ring quickly, we would love to chat to you.
DO NOT TEXT – I WILL NOT REPLY, use the phone for what Alexander Graham Bell designed it for! Have at least two references and phone numbers ready when you call please – BE WARNED, if you talk the talk, you need to be able to walk the talk!

Applicants for this position should have NZ residency or a valid NZ work visa.

A lot of employers will sympathise with this.


Real gender wage gap about 5c

February 2, 2014

Women earn less than men, right?

Well yes, but if this is right, it’s only 5c?

. . . President Obama repeated the spurious gender wage gap statistic in his State of the Union address. “Today,” he said, “women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.”

What is wrong and embarrassing is the President of the United States reciting a massively discredited factoid. The 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure, or hours worked per week. When all these relevant factors are taken into consideration, the wage gap narrows to about five cents. And no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers. In its fact-checking column on the State of the Union, the Washington Post included the president’s mention of the wage gap in its list of dubious claims. “There is clearly a wage gap, but differences in the life choices of men and women… make it difficult to make simple comparisons.” . . .

The real gap is only about 5 cents and no one knows if the five cents is a result of discrimination or some other subtle, hard-to-measure difference between male and female workers.

Much of the wage gap can be explained away by simply taking account of college majors. Early childhood educators and social workers can expect to earn around $36,000 and $39,000, respectively. By contrast, petroleum engineering and metallurgy degrees promise median earnings of $120,000 and $80,000. Not many aspiring early childhood educators would change course once they learn they can earn more in metallurgy or mining. The sexes, taken as a group, are somewhat different. Women, far more than men, appear to be drawn to jobs in the caring professions; and men are more likely to turn up in people-free zones. In the pursuit of happiness, men and women appear to take different paths.

But here is the mystery. These and other differences in employment preferences and work-family choices have been widely studied in recent years and are now documented in a mountain of solid empirical research. By now the President and his staff must be aware that the wage gap statistic has been demolished. This is not the first time the Washington Post has alerted the White House to the error. Why continue to use it? One possibility is that they have been taken in by the apologetics of groups like the National Organization for Women and the American Association of University Women. In its 2007 Behind the Pay Gap report, the AAUW admits that most of the gap in earnings is explained by choices. But this admission is qualified: “Women’s personal choices are similarly fraught with inequities,” says the AAUW. It speaks of women being “pigeonholed” into “pink-collar” jobs in health and education. According to NOW, powerful sexist stereotypes “steer” women and men “toward different education, training, and career paths.”

Have these groups noticed that American women are now among the most educated, autonomous, opportunity-rich women in history? Why not respect their choices? For the past few decades, untold millions of state and federal dollars have been devoted to recruiting young women into engineering and computer technology. It hasn’t worked. The percent of degrees awarded to women in fields like computer science and engineering has either stagnated or significantly decreased since 2000. . .

All evidence suggests that though young women have the talent for engineering and computer science, their interest tends to lie elsewhere. To say that these women remain helplessly in thrall to sexist stereotypes, and manipulated into life choices by forces beyond their control, is divorced from reality—and demeaning to boot.  If a woman wants to be a teacher rather than a miner, or a veterinarian rather than a petroleum engineer, more power to her.

The White House should stop using women’s choices to construct a false claim about social inequality that is poisoning our gender debates. And if the President is truly persuaded that statistical pay disparities indicate invidious discrimination, then he should address the wage gap in his own backyard. Female staff at the White House earn 88 cents on the dollar compared to men. Is there a White House war on women?

Commenting on this Dr Mark J Perry asks two questions:

Some questions: Who has the most control over setting salaries in the workplace? For most organizations it would be the Human Resource (HR) Department. And what are the demographics of Human Resource professionals within that profession? Several recent studies reveal that women hold 71% of HR positions nationally. So if women now dominate the HR profession and hold almost three of every four positions, are they not directly responsible for the supposed 23% wage differential between men and women that Obama and women’s group keep talking about? If it seems illogical and impossible that female HR professionals would systematically discriminate against female employees, doesn’t that expose the 77-cents-per-dollar gender wage gap as a myth?

Related question: Why is the HR profession, whose supposed platform is a commitment to diversity in organizations throughout the country, itself not a very gender-diverse profession? Is is possible that women naturally gravitate to the HR profession and far outnumber men in that career choice in the same way that men naturally gravitate to engineering and far outnumber women in that career choice? The concern about gender imbalances always seems so selective and uni-directional.

The figures used are for the USA, but the situation is likely to be similar here.

I am one of those who bring the numbers down for women, having had only temporary or part-time work since I was in my mid-20s.

That’s been my choice.

Where I live would make full time, permanent work more difficult, but if I really wanted to do it I could.

For a multitude of reasons I haven’t chosen to.

Feminism aims to let women do anything.

I’ve chosen part time and temporary work, combined with raising a family, a supporting role in the family business and a variety of volunteer roles.

Those of us who choose to do this add to the statistics which give the impression there’s a gender gap.

Those figures from the USA show that if the multitude of factors which influence pay is taken into account it it is insignificant.


Missing the point

January 13, 2014

The Council of Trade Unions has wants pre-employment drug testing for beneficiaries scrapped.

. . .  The pre-employment drug test policy, introduced in July last year, makes testing compulsory for some jobs.

The CTU said it should be scrapped after the ministry revealed it has no data on the amount of money saved by cutting the benefits of those who have failed the tests. . .

The CTU has been against this policy, introduced by National, from the start and this is just another excuse to oppose it.

But they’re missing the point of the policy.

Unemployed beneficiaries are supposed to be work-ready and someone who tests positive for drugs won’t be.

If the unions put their concern for workers ahead of their political allegiance to Labour they would get the point and also understand the danger workers under the influence of drugs could pose not just to themselves but to other workers.


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