EPMU call urgent meeting to tackle job crisis

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman. Photo / NZ Herald
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman. Photo / NZ Herald

An urgent summit this Friday aims to tackle what organisers say is a deepening jobs crisis.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) says the summit is being held in response to a string of recent manufacturing redundancies and a trades drain, as more New Zealanders move to Australia for work.

Unions, economists and business and political leaders will attend, including Green Party co-leader Russel Norman, Labour finance spokesman David Parker and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

EPMU national secretary Bill Newson said the summit showed there was an emerging consensus that the Government needed to take a more active role in the economy.

"No one who has seen the mass redundancies of recent months or the numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia can be unaware of the deepening jobs crisis in this country and the need for a new approach."

Mr Newson said the hands-off approach to the economy was broken and the Government needed to step up and support the manufacturing sector and the jobs it provided.

"There are alternatives, and as a country we need to discuss them. This summit is about bringing together the new consensus and we welcome anyone interested in the future of our country to join us in planning a new way forward."

The summit comes after Mr Parker was yesterday (Sunday) critical of the Government's response to the record numbers of New Zealanders heading to Australia.

He said an analysis of Statistics New Zealand figures for the year to August 2012 showed when unemployment rates peaked in the first quarter of this year, so too did the number of young New Zealanders migrating to Australia.

"National claims that the record numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia isn't their fault; it's because our neighbours are doing so well. But a close look at the numbers shows that when unemployment gets worse more young Kiwis leave for Australia."

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said Mr Parker was being disingenuous by showing just a few months of data, which he said made a mountain of a small mound.

"The reality is, both unemployment numbers for young people and long-term departures for young people tend to peak in the first quarter of each year, once they finish tertiary study at the end of the previous year.

"So he hasn't bothered to show you his graph over a longer period of time, and that would show you, literally, that it occurs every year at that time."

Mr Joyce denied claims there were not enough jobs in New Zealand, saying there had been a net increase of 57,000 jobs in the two years to the end of June 2012.

Of those, there were 21,000 more jobs for 20 to 24-year-olds.

- APNZ

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