Word of the day

December 22, 2010

Vitilitigation – vexatious wrangling; frivolous or sophistical objection; cavillation.


RSE works for workers, employers and as aid

December 22, 2010

The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme is working well.

Reports from the World Bank and Department of Labour confirm multiple benefits.

The scheme permits horticulturists and viticulturists to employ workers from Pacific Islands  and a few parts of Asia, during the harvest.

This solves the problem of worker shortages for employers and gives work to people from poor countries to the benefit of both.

The World Bank report shows this is having a positive development role for the Pacific. Workers earn far more than they could at home and take most of their earnings back to save or use to pay for their children’s education or for consumer goods.

It concludes:

Recognised Seasonal Employer programme has indeed had largely positive development impacts. It has increased income and consumption of households, allowed households to purchase more durable goods, increased the subjective standard of living, and had additional benefits at the community level. It also increased child schooling in Tonga.

This should rank it among the most effective development policies evaluated to date. The policy was designed as a best practice example based on lessons elsewhere, and now should serve as a model for other countries to follow.

The DoL report found workers from Kiribati and Tuvalu got little if any benefit, although this was partly explained by the small number of workers from there.

But workers from Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa benefited financially from the RSE policy.

The most frequent uses of savings by workers were to pay school fees and buy school uniforms; renovate or build new homes; purchase land and cattle; support other relatives; pay for family events; purchase vehicles, boats, equipment, and electronic goods; and repay bank and other loans.

Some workers used their savings to start or expand business ventures and other activities to generate income (for example, cattle farming, a taxi business, a store, and a vehicle-hire business).  

While financial rewards were the most important benefit, workers also valued their newly acquired skills, especially time management skills, English language skills, and an improved work ethic. Some workers discussed how the skills they had learnt in the vineyard or orchard could be transferred to their farms at home or to business ventures they were considering. Return workers said they were better at managing and saving their money.

Not all workers were in New Zealand long enough to enable them to save sufficient after paying their airfares and living costs. There are also problems from the prolonged absence of parents and spouses.

The majority of RSE employers reported immediate benefits from the scheme including a reliable, enthusiastic and productive workforce, reduced recruitment and training costs, increased confidence to expand and invest, and reduced stress.

Employers identified factors that contributed to the productivity levels of RSE workers: Pacific workers coped well with the physically demanding manual work involved in harvesting crops in very hot, cold, or windy conditions; and were  more willing to work long hours, weekends, and night shifts than New Zealand workers.

A consistent theme that emerged from employer interviews was the improved quality of produce due to having skilled workers to pick and pack crops while they were in optimum condition. Other results were improvements to the supply chain as a result of a reliable workforce, and improved performance of New Zealand workers due to the demonstration effects of RSE workers.

The report concludes the policy has achieved what it set out to do.

Employers in the horticulture and viticulture industries have access to a reliable and stable seasonal workforce. The labour supply crises of previous years have been avoided and employers can now plan and manage their businesses with confidence.

As the policy enters its third year, there are indications many employers are now also benefiting from skilled labour as workers return for subsequent seasons. Significant productivity gains were reported in the second season, together with improvements in harvest quality.

Alongside the employer ‘wins’, Pacific workers and three Pacific states have benefited financially from participating in the RSE Policy. Skill development has also been identified as a positive outcome for workers.

Aid usually means taking money or skills to other countries. The RSE scheme allows people from the Pacific to come here where they help our horticulturists and viticulturists and in doing so help themselves.


What’s to fear from fairness?

December 22, 2010

The furore around the foreshore and seabed has been full of misinformation and emotion from the start.

The Foreshore and Seabed Act was bad legislation enacted in acrimony when Labour panicked.

National promised to repeal it, has done so and has introduced the Marine and Coastal Area Bill which:

Guarantees free public access;

• Makes a common space of the public marine and coastal area, ensuring it can never be sold;

• Protects all existing uses, including recreational fishing and navigation rights;

• Addresses two fundamental rights violated by the Foreshore and Seabed Act – the right to access justice through the courts, and property rights;

• Protects, and in some cases extends, rights of vital infrastructure such as ports and aquaculture.

I can’t see anything to worry about there. It applies to a relatively small areas of coastline. We’ll all still have free access to the beach; Iwi have the right to seek justice in court and property rights are protected.

Some Maori are opposing the Bill because they think it doesn’t go far enough. In spite of that there’s been heated opposition from people who think it goes too far – including, most surprisingly, those on the right who would normally be the first to stand up for property rights.

Most of the opposition is based on misinformation and emotion. The government is countering this with a website explaining the facts which includes a message from Prime Minister John Key:

What’s to fear from fairness?


Incentives for safety

December 22, 2010

Proposed changes to ACC are necessary and sensible:

Reform of ACC is needed to improve incentives for workplace safety, improve services for claimants and keep levies affordable both now and in the future, ACC Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“This Government’s initial work on ACC was about stopping ACC haemorrhaging after $7.2 billion in losses. These next steps outline our long-term plan for ACC,” Dr Smith said in releasing the Stocktake and Financial Condition Reports.

Key decisions announced today include:

• No increase in workplace, motor vehicle or earner levies for 2011
• Introduction of experience rating in the Work Account
• Extension of the Accredited Employers’ Programme (AEP)
• Greater independence of the Disputes Resolution Service
• Decision in principle for introduction of choice in the Work Account

The current system has no reward for safe workplaces and no sanctions for unsafe ones. The experience rating in the Work Account will provide a no-claims discount programme for small employers and an experience rating for larger ones.

This will give employers a financial incentive to prevent injuries, encourage appropriate return-to-work programmes and make levies fairer so that low-risk employers aren’t subsidising high-risk ones.

The result should be safer workplaces and lower costs.

Introducing choice is the Work Account is being described as privatisation. It isn’t, nothing is being sold. It will merely allow people to choose between the government scheme and private providers.

Nick Smith has come up with sensible and moderate changes. They will ensure accident victims get the care, rehabilitation and compensation they need while lowering costs to levy payers and reducing the risk of a future blow-out in the ACC account which would put the whole system at risk.


December 22 in history

December 22, 2010

On December 22:

1550  Cesare Cremonini, Italian philosopher, was born http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/timeline/20/12.

1639  Jean Racine, French dramatist was born (d. 1699).

1805  John Obadiah Westwood, British entomologist, was born (d. 1893).

  1807  The Embargo Act, forbidding trade with all foreign countries, was passed by the U.S. Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson.

 A political cartoon showing merchants dodging the “Ograbme”, which is ‘Embargo’ spelled backwards.

1809 The Non-Intercourse Act, lifting the Embargo Act except for the United Kingdom and France, was passed by the U.S. Congress.

1819  Pierre Ossian Bonnet, French mathematician, was born  (d. 1892). 

1851The first freight train was operated in Roorkee, India.

1858  Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer, was born (d. 1924).

1885 Ito Hirobumi, a samurai, became the first Prime Minister of Japan.

1888  J. Arthur Rank, British film producer, was born.

1901  André Kostelanetz, American popular music orchestra leader and arranger, was born (d. 1980).

1907  Dame Peggy Ashcroft, English actress, was born(d. 1991).

1909  Patricia Hayes, English actress, was born.

1914 Swami Satchidananda, Yogi and Spiritual teacher, was born  (d. 2002).

1916 Peter Fraser, who later became Prime Minister, was charged with sedition following a speech attackign the government’s military consription policy.

Future PM Fraser charged with sedition

1942 Dick Parry, English musician (Pink Floyd), was born.

1948 Noel Edmonds, English game show host, was born.

1949  Maurice Gibb, English musician (The Bee Gees) was born  (d. 2003).


1949 – Robin Gibb, English musician (The Bee Gees), was born. 

 1956  Colo,  the first gorilla to be bred in captivity was born.

1962 Ralph Fiennes, English actor, was born.

1963 The cruise ship Lakonia burned 180 miles north of Madeira with the loss of 128 lives.

An early photo of the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

1964  First flight of the SR-71 (Blackbird).

1965 A 70mph speed limit was applied to all rural roads in Britain, including motorways, for the first time. Previously, there had been no speed limit.
1974  Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli voted to become the independent nation of Comoros.
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1978 The Third Plenum of the 11th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Beijing, with Deng Xiaoping reversing Mao-era policies to pursue a program for Chinese economic reform.

1989 After a week of bloody demonstrations, Ion Iliescu took over as president of Romania, ending Nicolae Ceauşescu‘s Communist dictatorship.

1989 – Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate re-opened after nearly 30 years, effectively ending the division of East and West Germany.

 

1990 Final independence of Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia after termination of trusteeship.

1992Archives of Terror  – archives describing the fates of thousands of Latin Americans who had been secretly kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay – were discovered by  Dr. Martín Almada, and a human-rights activist and judge, José Agustín Fernández. This was known as Operation Condor.

1997  Acteal massacre: Attendees at a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic activists for indigenous causes in the small village of Acteal in the Mexican state of Chiapas werre massacred by paramilitary forces.

2001 Burhanuddin Rabbani, political leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, handeed over power in Afghanistan to the interim government headed by President Hamid Karzai.

  

2001 – Richard Reid attempted to destroy a passenger airliner by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes aboard American Airlines Flight 63.

2008– An ash dike ruptured at a solid waste containment area in Roane County, Tennessee, releasing 1.1 billion gallons (4.2 million m³) of coal fly ash slurry.


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