Government appears leaderless in jobs crisis

The Maritime Union says immediate action is needed to stop the unfolding jobs crisis in New Zealand.

Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson says he is concerned that the Government appears to be “sailing in circles” as New Zealand drifts further into recession.

Mr Hanson says the Prime Minister should be taking charge of employment, rather than leaving it to an inexperienced Minister like Paula Bennett.

“Mr Key’s jobs strategy appears to be based around avoiding being associated with any bad news. Since we are having a lot of bad news at the moment, this means the Prime Minister has become virtually invisible.”

Mr Hanson says the cause and the worsening effects of the global recession are due to the deregulated free market policies that National has promoted, and as a result they had a “passive approach” when an “active approach” was required.

Possible solutions the Union was promoting included a reduction in working hours with no loss in pay, extending protections for casual workers, requiring that the public sector purchased goods and services from local businesses, and public investment in productive enterprises that were experiencing problems due to the recession.

Mr Hanson says that talking about retraining was fine, but on its own such a policy was like a “three legged dog”, missing the essential requirement for viable industries that would employ the retrained workers.

“In recent weeks we have seen the devastation of areas of manufacturing as well as jobs evaporating due to technological advances and outsourcing to overseas. The guts is being ripped out of the New Zealand economy as we watch.”

He says mass layoffs from the public sector were compounding the problem and creating unnecessary disruption and insecurity simply because National were “anti public sector.”

Mr Hanson says the Maritime Union is concerned the political right-wing and private business interests will soon launch a major attack on workers wages and conditions to prop up profits.

“We already have a substantial number of people in New Zealand who are the ‘working poor’, they were struggling in the so-called good times, and these people simply have no personal reserves to deal with the financial pressures of unemployment.”

“Workers will be expected to pay for the recession caused by irrational economic policies that have led to inequality and a deeply troubled society.”

He says successive Governments have pushed free trade ideology as the solution to New Zealand’s problems, and now New Zealand was finding that relying on one or two commodities with volatile international markets was dangerously naive.

Mr Hanson says that well paid, secure jobs could be created in the maritime and fishing industry, rather than dead-end schemes like the plan to funnel unemployed young people towards unskilled jobs such as the infamous “McDonalds” scheme from WINZ.

ENDS

For more information contact Maritime Union General Secretary Trevor Hanson on 021390585

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