If it worked in Germany . . .

August 27, 2012

An email from a reader alerted me to this story from The Telegraph about Germany’s radical answer to its unemployment problem:

. . . There is special focus on “mini-jobs”, contracts that allow a worker to earn 400 euros a month tax-free on the condition that they can be sacked at any moment. Germans can have as many such jobs as they like, but only one with the same employer. The official figures show that, within a year of their introduction, there were 500,000 more part-time jobs, with a good record of leading to full-time employment. Youth unemployment was indeed halved. None of this was pain-free – protesters lined the streets, complaining about deregulation and denouncing “devil jobs”. It was, for Schröder, a battle worth fighting and winning. . .

Could we be as brave as Germany?

There would be a battle, but if it worked as it did there, it would be one worth fighting and winning here.


Can’t work or won’t?

May 29, 2012

When unemployment is at its highest rate in 13 years, it’s difficult to understand why some employers are struggling to find people willing to take on manual work.

Several employers desperately seeking reliable workers say it is as if people are unprepared for the workforce and don’t want to prove themselves.

Orchardists and dairy farmers have been noticing this for some time. Local people aren’t interested in the jobs they offer which is why there are so many workers from overseas employed in these industries. Orchard and dairy farm work might not be everybody’s first choice. But any job should be better than no job and people in employment are much more likely to get a job they want than someone who is unemployed.


Welfare for what?

July 3, 2009

When welfare was first introduced it was to cover necessities for people in real need.

A couple of academics want a change in the rules for the unemployment benefit   so an individual could receive it even if his/her partner was working.

People tend to live up to their incomes so the loss of a job will strain family budgets, but should the taxpayer be expected to help people sustain a lifestyle?

I think the answer lies in the quote from Jenny Shipley’s valedictory speech from Monday’s Quiz: 

“In my view the welfare state was not conceived for the middle class and yet it is increasingly captured by them.”


Employment and unemployment up in December 1/4

February 5, 2009

Employment growth last year was concentrated in service industries, notably education, transport, storage and communications while fewer people were employed in agriculture, construction and manufacturing, government statistician Geoff Bascand says.

I’m surprised by the decrease in agriculture because the December quarter is a busy one on farms and the number of new dairy conversions last year would have created more jobs in that sector than were lost from sheep and beef farms which were converted. This is confirmed by the grapevine which is full of stories about the difficulty of finding staff.

Primary industries in Australia have also been struggling to recruit employees and a prawn fisherman we spoke to when we were there a couple of weeks ago said the announcement of 350 redundancies  at BHP’s Townsville refinery wasn’t all bad news because it might make it easier for farmers and fishermen who hadn’t been able to compete with mining when looking for workers.

The household labour survey showed the number of people unemployed in New Zealand reached 105,000 in the three months to December last year, the highest level since September 2002.

Unemployment rose by .4%, or 10,000 people, to 4.6% in the December quarter.

The number of people employed increased by 21,000 which was a .9% increase and the labour force participation rate increased by .6 percentage points to 69.3% .

On a related matter, Lindsay Mitchell compares unemployment benefits and superannuation in New Zealand and Australia.


Fruit Rots for Want of Pickers

June 24, 2008

Australia is borrowing our ideas to help solve their problems with a shortage of seasonal workers:

FRED Tassone is one of scores of operators of orchards, market gardens and vineyards across the country who cannot find enough workers to pick their produce.

Despite more than 460,000 people being officially unemployed in Australia, the chronic labour shortage in the horticulture industry has reached the point where fruit has been left rotting on trees, and vegetables are left in the ground.

The federal Government is evaluating a recently completed trial of a seasonal workers program in New Zealand, generally regarded as successful by government and industry alike. Soon the sight of Pacific Islanders in fields across Australia may be commonplace.

A decision on a pilot of a program allowing Pacific Islanders short-term visas of up to six months is expected in the next few weeks. Pacific leaders have long advocated the freer movement of labour.

The use of Pacific workers helped orchardists in Central Otago last summer, and also added vibrancy to the community. A group of workers, with beautiful voices, used to busk at Wanaka’s Sunday market.

The mining boom in Western Australia has attracted many people who might once have been prepared to do the hard physical work in the orchards and vineyards.

“It doesn’t matter whether the unemployment rate is 5 per cent or 50 per cent, Australia’s unemployed don’t want to do our work,” Mr Tassone said.

“Unskilled workers can make up to $1200 a week, but Australians just don’t want to do it.”

Jonathan Nathundriwa, 30, from Fiji, who works on a farm next to Mr Tassone’s, said local unemployed people were not interested in the hard physical work required.

On the other hand, the Islanders would be delighted to earn a decent income, Mr Nathundriwa said.

“My family back in Fiji are busting their chops for $10 a day,” he said.

“I would love to be able to give them employment.”

He could also be talking about the dairy industry here.

 Gay Tripodi, who runs stone-fruit operation Murrawee Farms at Swan Hill, in Victoria, said backpackers were not a solution.

“For God’s sake, they’re a nightmare,” she said. “It’s not their fault – most are good kids, but 99 per cent have never been on a farm.

“We need workers who can stay with us for the duration of the season, five to six months.

“We can train them up and then they return to us the following year. We have been really struggling. The situation is dramatic.”

We have a similar problem with people unaccustomed to farms who think they want to work in dairying. It would be great to be able to employ seasonal workers on dairy farms in the same way orchards do. If we could we might look further than the Pacific Islands. We’ve had good workers from Argentina and Chile and neighbours are equally positive about workers from Uruguay.


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