Friday, July 30, 2010

Remove discrimination, not your shoes please, Minister

Subject: Remove discrimination, not your shoes please, Minister
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 13:47:04 +1200




Media Release 30 July 2010

Remove the discrimination against poor children not your shoes please, Minister


Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has congratulated Paula Bennett on finally acknowledging New Zealand's high rates of child poverty. But according to CPAG spokesperson Dr Claire Dale  "If The Minister really cared about children going without shoes in winter she would do far more than take her shoes off.  

"Feeling good about handing out a pair of shoes ignores the underlying reasons why children are going without shoes. 150,000 of New Zealand's poorest families miss out on at least $60 a week under current policies. This discrimination is intolerable, and is undreamed of in countries like Australia. If going without shoes for a day is the boldest move Ms Bennett can make in her portfolio, then heaven help New Zealand's children."

$60 a week would allow parents to provide shoes for their children as well as feed and clothe them adequately.

Every winter, going without shoes and warm clothing has a serious impact on children's health and their ability to participate in classroom activities. Inadequate footwear leads to hundreds of children being admitted to hospital every year with severe cuts or punctures. Footwear is fundamental to preventing illness and ensuring each child can participate across the wider range of activities and the school curriculum.

As a matter of urgency, the government should reconsider its family support policies so that all children in low-income households can have a chance of getting their own shoes instead of relying on charities. We should not have to endure the spectacle of politicians pretending they care.

New Zealand needs a systematic approach to acknowledging and resolving child poverty, not a single pair of shoes.





Donna Wynd (mob) 021 2377 779

Dr Claire Dale work dd (09) 9236968



Kind Regards


Julie Timmins


Ka Whangaia ka tupu, ka puawai

That which is nurtured, blossoms and grows.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

FW: What Work Counts? Report questions benefit of Work-first policies

Subject: What Work Counts? Report questions benefit of Work-first policies
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2010 10:36:18 +1200



Please note the attached Executive summary.  Copies of the full report can be ordered from




Media Release 29 July 2010


What Work Counts?  Report questions benefit of work-first policies

A new report from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) warns that the government's single minded focus on parents' work status sidelines the needs of children.


Economics spokesperson Claire Dale says Working for Families, introduced in 2004, was supposed to increase employment among sole parent families.


"The results have been very underwhelming, and the policy is misguided. In  the recession sole parents have been losing jobs at a very high rate, and the number of sole parents on a benefit is now back where it was before the 2004 reforms.


"Children in these families are vulnerable to sudden and severe falls in income. A big factor in obtaining and keeping work is the availability of jobs, but children's' needs remain the same whether jobs are there or not," she said. CPAG also warns that the changes proposed under the government's Future Focus legislation which insist on 15 hours paid employment will worsen child poverty if parents are unable to find jobs.


The report shows parents face great difficulty trying to juggle raising their children, working, and dealing with the benefit system. Often it is not possible or sensible for sole parents to be in paid work and the government should respect the work they are already doing: "Raising children requires support on all fronts, not just getting parents into work."


"New Zealand's children have borne the brunt of changes in welfare, education, and the labour market in the last 20 years. If we leave their welfare to a minimal safety net  we gamble with their futures.. Children's needs must be at the centre of policy decisions – not a by product of an increasingly precarious and volatile labour market."


Contacts:  Dr Claire Dale  (09) 9236968

Donna Wynd 0212377779



Kind Regards


Julie Timmins


Ka Whangaia ka tupu, ka puawai

That which is nurtured, blossoms and grows.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Defeat NACT's Attacks

Redrave warns against relying on the Labour Party to save us from National/Act's attacks on unions, wages and benefits. They say that in the current capitalist crisis National needs to cut wages benefits and social services to save the bosses' profits; Labour has always existed to reconcile workers with capitalism; and increasingly, both parties will sacrifice our needs to meet the demands of Chinese imperialism.
Instead they say, we need to break with the Labour Party and union bureaucracy and fight for what we need now: including living wages and benefits, unions on every job site under control of the membership with recallable delegates, workers committees in every city, a general strike to smash NACT's austerity programme, nationalisation under workers control without compensation, and a revolutionary party for a socialist Aotearoa.

See the article at:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

90 Days Protest

On Sunday, Waitemata Unite members were amongst the hundreds protesting National's anti- union 90 Day Bill which will give all employers the ability to sack any worker for no reason during the first 90 days of employment. It also restricts the right of unions to enter the workplace, and the ability to make a personal grievance claim.

To see more photos of the protest visit:

Working For Families takes 1200 out of the Workforce

The number of people who have joined the workforce as a result of the Working for Families scheme are less than those who have left it. This does not make the Working for Families scheme look like a success in persuading people to work rather than receive state support.

The Working for Families Tax Credit scheme discriminates against beneficiaries and their children, who do not receive any tax credits at all for any paid work that they do.

Some single parents have gone off the DPB and onto more than 20 hours a week work ; while a far greater number of married partners have quit work to stay at home with their children and enjoy the state provided tax credits that their employed partner receives.

Why is it better for a single mother to have to work full time, and not receive any state support be at home to meet her children's needs; whilst a married woman (who already has the financial and practical support of her partner) , gets extra state support to stay at home?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dual Attacks on Workers and Beneficiaries

National's dual attack upon workers and beneficiaries is like a mirror image of National's 1991 benefit cuts and Employment Contracts Act. The TUC leadership and delegates failed to vote for a general strike against the ECA in 1991-leading to a decade of stagnation of workers' rights and union activity. When Labour came to power it introduced the Employment Relations Act (ERA), and unions began to begin to slowly regain their memberships -but Labour did absolutely nothing for beneficiaries-even excluding us from the Working for Families tax concessions.

Now once again National makes even worse attacks on beneficiaries by work-testing the sick and parents; putting time limits on how long you can receive one; and suggesting a Canadian-style insurance scheme which would prevent the majority of us from ever receiving anything at all!

And National attacks workers with its new anti-worker legislation which will mean anyone can be sacked without reason for the first 90 days of work; and stopping unions from being able to go onto worksites. It's also limiting workers' rights to take personal grievance cases against wrongful dismissal.

This will deny a new generation of young workers the opportunity to join unions and to fight for better wages and working conditions. With Employers sacking workers at whim, many more will be joining the ranks of the unemployed in an endless merry go round.

Beneficiaries and employed workers need to Unite for a living income for all!

This time, union and community members need to make sure that our delegates and leaders agree to our taking strong action to resist these attacks, including strikes. Unions are our fighting muscle. Any delegate or leader refusing to endorse effective actions must be replaced .

Read Sue Bradford's commments on this dual attack upon workers and beneficiaries here:

Friday, July 16, 2010

USA: Why Won't Congress Help the Jobless

After the massive spending to bail out the Capitalists wordwide and especially the USA comes the "Austerity" progamme ( austerity for us, not for them) designed to make us pay for it.

Government spending cuts for their own sake?

Faster cuts in government spending risk tipping the economy back into recession, says the CTU’s Economist and Policy Director Bill Rosenberg.

Despite steady reductions in the Government’s deficit, well ahead of forecasts, it is still talking of getting the accounts back into surplus even earlier. “With real risks in the world economy, and the recovery in New Zealand still weak, even harsher government spending cuts and public service job losses could lead to the recovery faltering,” said Rosenberg.

“There is no need for this. New Zealand’s government debt situation is mild compared to other developed economies. While debt is to be avoided, it is not to be avoided at all costs. This is a time when the Government could tolerate the moderate debt levels that are projected in order to ensure the economy does not return to recession and higher unemployment. Already we are seeing severe stress in health services due to the inadequate funding in the Budget.”

“Rather than further cuts, the Government should be considering a Plan B for the possibility that the world economy does go downhill again. We see no evidence of such planning. It should be readying a stimulus package such as infrastructure projects, new low-cost energy-efficient housing, increased opportunities for tertiary education and skill development, and further support for employment and people who lose their jobs if there is a turn for the worse.”

“We shouldn’t follow governments in Europe into a self-destructive round of big cuts in spending that increase the risk of a second dip into recession.”

For further information contact:

Bill Rosenberg, Economist and Policy Director, CTU
04 802 3815 / 021 637 991

Making Us Pay for Their Crisis

It is often argued that low benefits are needed in order to encourage people to take shitty low paid jobs. But this is irrelevant in a recession as Gordon Campbell points out.

Gordon Campbell asks: why do business leaders keep on calling for cuts to welfare in future – when their own activities are currently failing to create sufficient jobs for those people likely to be tipped off welfare?

Do unemployment benefits reduce the incentive to seek work? Yes: workers receiving unemployment benefits aren’t quite as desperate as workers without benefits, and are likely to be slightly more choosy about accepting new jobs. The operative word here is “slightly”: recent economic research suggests that the effect of unemployment benefits on worker behavior is much weaker than was previously believed. Still, it’s a real effect when the economy is doing well.

But it’s an effect that is completely irrelevant to our current situation. When the economy is booming, and lack of sufficient willing workers is limiting growth, generous unemployment benefits may keep employment lower than it would have been otherwise. But as you may have noticed, right now the economy isn’t booming — again, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening. Cutting off benefits to the unemployed will make them even more desperate for work — but they can’t take jobs that aren’t there.

So, why do business leaders keep on calling for cuts to welfare in future – when their own activities are currently failing to create sufficient jobs for those people likely to be tipped off welfare? Leave aside the possibility that our CEOs aren’t very bright, or that they remain captive to the old slash and burn policies they learned from Roger Douglas nearly 30 years ago. Krugman, again, has an apt explanation : he puts it down to a belief in what he calls the’confidence fairy.’
But don’t worry: spending cuts may hurt, but the confidence fairy will take away the pain.

What’s the evidence for the belief that fiscal contraction is actually expansionary, because it improves confidence?

So if "work incentives" is not the reason for cuts in welfare, education, health, and social services- could the reason be that they want us to pay for their crisis; so they can continue to get rich at our expense?

Alternative Welfare Working Group Starts Thursday

The Alternative Welfare Working Group had its launch on Thursday. They want to hear from beneficiary and anti-poverty groups around the country.

They have a new website:

and a facebook page:

they can be contacted at

Children's Health and Poverty

See Professor Innes Asher's presentation to the Welfare Working Group entitled
Child Health and Government Policy.

It shows how NZ children's health has deteriorated due to poverty and recommends raising the minimum wage instead of cutting benefits, reducing taxes for low income earners, funding insulation for rental accommodation, and raising benefits to be in line with universal superannuation. health has deteriorated due to poverty

Nats extend 90 Day Act

The 90 Day Act has already caused hardship to many workers who have lost their jobs without warning and for no reason, say unions. Now National intends to reduce workers' rights even further by extending the provisions of this act to employers who employ larger numbers of workers. National also wants to restrict unions' rights to enter the workplace. This is a serious threat to the working class, both employed and unemployed.

Employment laws in line for shake-up

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Alternative Welfare Working Group Set Up

At last an alternative welfare working group has been set up to counter balance the proposals coming from the government's welfare working group. Hopefully the alternative proposals will be more friendly to beneficiaries. One idea is a Universal Basic Income. This could be good, but the crucial factor would be the amount. I've heard proposals of $200 per week with a few top ups for a mother with a family. This is not enough to live on, and would be similar to a current benefit.

"Less than a year after quitting Parliament, former Green MP Sue Bradford is jumping back into public life with a new group that aims to challenge an official shakeup of the welfare system.

The "alternative welfare working group" will seek public submissions around the country to counter the official welfare working group which has been asked by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to find ways to reduce welfare dependency.

"They are actually talking about changing the very basis of our social security system, but they are not engaging a wide range of people in the discussion around that," Ms Bradford said yesterday.

"It's very important that other analyses and other solutions are put up."

The six-member alternative group has been set up by the Catholic aid and social justice agency Caritas, the Anglican Social Justice Commission and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation.

Massey University social policy professor Mike O'Brien will chair it. Other members are Lincoln University economist Paul Dalziel, Victoria University welfare law lecturer Maamari Stephens, Anglican Bishop Muru Walters and Disabled Persons Assembly researcher Wendi Wicks."

read more at:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Huge Sell Off of State Houses

Housing New Zealand plans to sell or redevelop almost a third of its 69,000 houses in a 20-year plan to meet changing needs and bring private homeowners into state housing enclaves such as Mangere and Otara.

The corporation says it has identified 20,285 homes for "redevelopment, reconfiguration, outright disposal or disposal and replacement".

Whilst it used to provide housing for working families, it seems the focus is now on people with disabilities and the elderly. Thus the current houses where people live are deemed to be the wrong size or in the wrong place.

It kindly plans to get people out of their state homes in high concentration areas in order to help them become "independent".

"We are not saying that every street has to get down to 30 per cent," she said. "But the reason for that goal is that if you are trying, which we are, to help people on their pathway to housing independence, you need to have other forms of tenure that they can move to in the same area."

The corporation planned "one of the biggest reconfigurations of state housing that has ever been attempted".

Stop National's Super City, Welfare Cuts

NACT government forcing workers to pay for their big profits

The NACTs [National Party and ACT party - with Maori party in tow] are using the election for the Supercity Council as a test bed for their agenda to make the workers pay for their crisis in the 2011 General Election. The new unified Supercity will have around half the population in NZ so it is the dynamo around which the whole country spins. The bosses want to win over Auckland as a step to winning over the whole country to their new right 'austerity' agenda.

This so-called 'austerity' means that workers suffer a cut in their living standards so that the bosses can improve theirs. It is a gigantic redistribution of income from poor to rich on top of the fact that workers ultimately create all of the nation's wealth.

Privatising social welfare

The NACTs plan to go down to the next level such as cutting benefits and driving beneficiaries into shitty jobs to force down wages further. Invalids will be redefined as sick or preferably workshy and work tested to force them to take these shitty jobs. Solo parents will have to look for part-time work when their youngest child reaches the age of six years.

The Minister of Social Development has said she wants to privatise welfare by making workers set up their own social insurance schemes.She says that work is good for beneficiaries health.

Bosses the biggest bludgers

If we look harder we don't see an 'underclass' living it up on its welfare 'entitlements', we see an 'overclass' living it up on its 'entitlement' to expenses and profits
This is what this charade about the underclass is all about. It tries to hide the fact that the corporate welfare cheats are laughing all the way to the bank with their millions

Working people must mobilise and dump NACT

Working people have to put up a huge fight to stop NACT from winning the Supercity and easing their way to a 2011 election victory

From Class Struggle 89

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Privatising Schools, Sacking welfare workers, UK

The UK is fast tracking legislation giving school boards the option to apply to become "academies" ie private schools, with no consultation with students or parents.

Sound familiar? Small boards empowered to make make decisions to privatise important public assets without consultation-shades of Auckland Super City?

The NZ national standards will pave the way for this sort of privatisation being offered to the "better" schools here, just as is being done in the UK.

Meanwhile UK Jobcentre workers are reeling this week. Having been told how valuable they have been in getting the country out of recession, this week they were told that 4,000 of them are to be sacked within the next few months. This is even though unemployment has started to rise again and, with over 2.5 million unemployed, the recovery is still a long way off.

France, Millions Join Protests

On Thursday 24 June, about two million workers took to the streets in about 200 cities and towns of France in a national day of action called by the main trade union organisations (CGT, CFDT, CFTC, UNSA, FSU and Solidaires) against the pension reforms. This is the centre-piece of the wave of attacks concocted by the Sarkozy-Fillon government, aimed at slashing up to €100 billion from public spending by 2013. Many capitalist voices, in France and internationally, are already pushing for ‘supplementary efforts’, arguing that such a move remains insufficient.

The ‘demographic’ and ‘deficit’ arguments are used as excuses to impose new burdens on working people and attacks on living standards. At the same time, the CAC 40 (the 40 biggest French private companies quoted on the stock-exchange) made €49 billion in profits last year, and bosses’ contributions (social taxes) are being reduced by €30 billion each year (the equivalent of the deficit of the whole social security system). This shows what all the propaganda about the “unaffordable level of the pensions” is really about.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Share your Stories! NZ and UK

Overheard at the Job Centre is a site for beneficiaries in the UK to share their stories about the hassles they have to go through whilst applying for benefits.

Here in New Zealand you can share your stories too! Go to the Share Your Stories Section of our archive-or email and we will publish it.

Or share your story in the comments section of this article!

To read the stories of the English see

Hackney Beneficiaries Unite, UK

Their job centres aren't finding them any work, and they attended a national day of action for the unemployed in June this year. They're fighting against the privatisation of the benefit system which would see private companies receiving large sums of government money to force beneficiaries to jump though hoops to qualify for minimal benefits.

Friday, July 2, 2010

FW: Dr Jim Stanford on the Canadian insurance model for unemployment benefits

Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2010 11:22:00 +1200
Subject: Dr Jim Stanford on the Canadian insurance model for unemployment benefits


Dr Jim Stanford's power point slides and a Press release from the Forum on 24 June:


Beware the "Insurance" Model for Unemployment Benefits:

Cautionary Evidence from the Canadian Experience.


Are now available here.


Thankyou for your contribution to a very topical session.



Tressy Menezes

Research Administrator & PA to Assoc Dean:Research

Postgraduate and Research Office

Level 1, Room141

Owen Glenn Bldg

Tel: 373 7599 extn: 82628




Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spain: Safety Net Frays

Spain, like the rest of Europe faces wage, pension, and welfare cuts and freezes.

The events around the world show us is that liveable benefits, social services, and wages are interlinked-as are attacks upon them. We must all unite-employed and unemployed-against these attacks.

Spanish workers are preparing to strike, but will this be enough? The article below says that they feel betrayed by their government, but they don't know who to vote for.

Can our current worldwide economic system ever truly provide the kind of security that people need? Do we need a different kind of economic-political system that is truly designed to meet people's needs rather than profit?

Beware the Two Paulas

A single mother writes:
"Paula Bennett, Minister of Social Welfare and Paula Rebstock, head of the Welfare Working Group, are two women that working class women need to beware of. Their policies are not pro-women. The two Paulas are helping the white male capitalist class, and its National Government- to get rich at poor (including Maori and Pacific) women's expense. Paula Rebstock with her patronising views towards single parents, and how we need to "work"; is helping to provide an appearance of academic legitimacy to Paula Bennett's planned brutal assault upon us. Mothering is work and we should be valued and respected for this, and have a liveable income for ourselves and our families whether or not we are in paid employment."

Beware the Canadian Insurance Model

Jim Stanford, economist for the Canadian Auto Workers Union, recently gave an excellent talk in Auckland about the dangers of the insurance model of benefits, known in Canada as "Employment Insurance" (EI). This model is being considered by the NZ National Government and its welfare panel.
"The unions in Canada agreed to the introduction of this model some decades ago, as they believed it would remove the stigma of being on a benefit, and give unemployed workers a guaranteed entitlement to their insurance payouts, since they would have been paying regularly into the scheme from their wages. Instead, the majority found that they had no entitlement at all ,as they had not worked enough to qualify;and many of those who did qualify received very little; because they had not earned enough. The system produces inequality, and discriminates against the low paid ,casual or part time worker, who is often female. For some middle class professionals, it gave good support for a short time.

Not only this, scandalously billions of dollars paid into this scheme by workers disappeared.

Lastly, these payments are for very limited times, with an absolute maximum of 6 months and most being only for a matter of weeks.

Is this what we want for New Zealanders? A scam where we pay out of our weekly wages into an "insurance" scheme which gives us no guarantee of any payout if we become unemployed, nor to a liveable amount if we do get it; and which ends in a very short time leaving us with nothing? And if we have been unfortunate enough not to be able to get work in the first place-or not enough- then tough cookies for us?

Jim also gave some excellent talks about Capitalism recently and how it works-or doesn't work. Some of his resources can be found in the website

see also for several articles about EI in Candada, including:

Is EI Working for Canada's Unemployed?:

Women Shut out of Employment Insurance:

Greece and UK: People Fight against Cuts

The Greeks are on the streets again protesting against cuts to wages and pensions. In Britain trade unions and beneficiary organisations are uniting to fight against the "Bloodbath Budget" which attacks social services, benefits, jobs and pensions, and includes a VAT increase to a whopping 20per cent. Intending to make the poor pay for the capitalist crisis it plans huge job cuts, slashing housing benefits, cancelling youth projects, freezing public sector pay and child benefits, cutting pensions ; at the same time as reducing corporate tax, and miniscule bank levies-bankers pay 2 billion whilst benefits are slashed by 11 billion!