Unions seek Maori jobs

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012

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Trade unions are trying to forge closer relationships with iwi groups to boost employment for Maori, but the Government is still being blamed for the latest rise in joblessness.

The number of unemployed Maori rose from 12.8 per cent in June to 15.1 per cent in the three months to September. Comparatively unemployment among New Zealanders of European ethnicity grew just 0.2 percentage points to 5.4 per cent from the previous quarter, while the overall national unemployment rate went up 0.5 points to 7.3 per cent.

Council of Trade Unions vice-president Syd Keepa said he had seen many more redundancies since the end of the September quarter and he would not be surprised to see the rate go higher.

He said Maori were traditionally employed by manufacturers such as sawmills which were proving uncompetitive against Asian manufacturers, especially with the high New Zealand dollar.

"I don't know how much of an effect the building programme in Canterbury's going to have . . . but in terms of building [products], that's where we're seeing a lot of our redundancies in manufacturing basically," Keepa said.

He's unhappy with the Government's decision to cut staff in the public service and the possible closure of the Hillside Engineering Workshops after train manufacturing contracts were awarded to overseas companies.

He said many Maori had moved to Australia to find paid work and believed the unemployment figure would be "horrendous" if that option was not open to them.

"I see some training being done but unfortunately a lot of those trained people go to Australia . . . it's good to get people trained up but where are the jobs? That's the reality, there are no jobs."

In September the CTU opened discussions with iwi leaders at a hui in Tauranga with a view to creating jobs for Maori, he said.

No concrete solutions had been reached yet.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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