The Jobs Summit

will be pleased, I suspect, with the Summit. It appears to have indeed avoided being just a talkfest, and some actual initiatives have come forward for consideration.

What I also found interesting was the reports of how it engendered a sense of responsibility in participants that they all have a role to play. You had the Reserve Bank Governor and Treasury Secretary not just there to give speeches, but also actively working side by side in the sessions with participants.

The other interesting thing has been the almost unchallenged assumption that saving jobs is the foremost priority, as determined by John Key. So the Govt is willing to take on some more debt. The banks are willing to lend some more money, the unions (here at least) did not just press for pay increases, and the employers backed plans to reduce hours instead of jobs – despite the latter being a lot easier.

So what are the main ideas:

  • A nine day working fortnight, with the Government paying (but at leass than full wages) for training on the 10th day. Est to cost $320 million a year which is huge. However if it does keep up to 20,000 people in jobs, then you save a lot by not having to pay unemployment benefits and still collecting tax on their incomes.  Backed by Key, unions and employers
  • A $50 million cycleway from Cape Reinga to Bluff, employing 4,000 people (not sure for how long). Supported by Key as a tourism measure and Greens for obvious reasons. Not one of the formal top 20.
  • A multi-million or billion equity investment fund, with the Government and banks, designed to let companies access capital to grow.
  • A $60 million private-public fund to boost Tourism

Fran O’Sullivan praises the Summit:

Pairing Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe and Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly as co-chairs for the critical employment session proved to be a masterstroke.

Very decent of John, $60 milconsidering the anti-National ads that the CTU ran last year.

Well before the summit, Kelly and Fyfe had nutted out a range of policy ideas that are enticingly pragmatic.

One has to say also kudos to Kelly for her work.

Key’s decision to appoint Mark Weldon as summit chair also proved inspired, giving the talented NZX chief executive officer the opportunity to provoke other business leaders to be more creative in their thinking.

Weldon’s appointment was criticised by more than a few, but at the end of the day he delivered.

Colin Espiner blogs:

It’s been a very long day but I think a productive one.

I have to admit I was a bit of a cynic about the Jobs Summit. I’ve been to enough of these things to know that half the time they are a load of hot air, with competing egos and ideologies crowding out the room. At the time of the day some vague communique gets released and nothing ever happens.

Well, this summit was a little bit like that. But only a little. Whether it was the sense of impending crisis, whether it was the change of government, whether business and the unions are more prepared to listen to each other I don’t know, but I did get the feeling that for once, everyone seemed to be singing from the same page.

It is only a beginning. What will be interesting is how many of the ides get implemented in the Budget, or before.

Comments (88)

Login to comment or vote