Labour Attempt At Boycott Fails

  • Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)

Over 2,000 organisations already using Community Wage workers in just 10 weeks

In the 10 weeks since the Community Wage was introduced, 2,111 organisations have signed up as sponsors to provide unemployed people with Community Work, Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.

"The Opposition tried to claim that no one would support the policy but, fortunately for jobseekers needing help, they've been proved dead wrong. The Labour Party's shameful attempt to drum up a boycott has failed, and more sponsors are joining each day."

The sponsors include primary and secondary schools, marae, Trusts and local and regional Councils, and social agencies including the Wellington City Mission, the Salvation Army - which has a long history of helping the unemployed - the Arthritis Foundation and the Foundation for the Blind, Riding for the Disabled, and Police 101 Patrol Group. Many sponsors, such as the Waipareira Trust, target Maori or Polynesian people, who make up a large percentage of the unemployed.

"The political victory is not important. What is important is that long term unemployed people are being helped back onto the road towards a paid job. They are gaining essential employment skills and a work record, contact with the workforce, and all the benefits of social contact, as well as help on practical things such as how to job-search and to write a CV. On average, the numbers joining these programmes is rising by 80 per day.

"Community Work is a win-win situation. Sponsors get work done that would otherwise not be done, because there is no money is available for those activities.

"The range of activities involved is enormous. There are practical projects such as environmental programmes, gardening, painting, graffiti removal and track maintaining. But it's much more than that. At the Arthritis Foundation, which is a charity, skilled professional immigrants who cannot yet get positions here in their field are getting essential experience in a New Zealand office working environment. That opportunity can be the key to getting their foot in the door.

"In schools, children are being helped with activities such as reading and supervision. In the Hutt Valley, the Petone Trust is working miracles in upskilling teenagers who haven't yet got on the first rung of the job ladder, and lack basic work and life kills. It has a fantastic record in finding fulltime work for the young people going through the programme.

"Sports training is a growing element. In Auckland, Sport Education New Zealand is putting large numbers of youths into sport training, with the help of skilled trainers from the Rugby Union. The jobseekers then go into schools and teach sports teams.

"I invite the media to talk to these sponsors and the people they're helping to see exactly how much is being achieved," Mr McCardle concluded.

Media inquiries: Philip Keating Press Secretary 025 477996 04 4719366 Details of sponsors and projects in specific areas can be obtained from the above number, or by contacting offices of Regional Commissioners of Work and Income NZ (WINZ).