Seasoned workers find saturated job market hard work

DONNA-LEE BIDDLE
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014

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The announcement of more than 150 job cuts in recent days is likely to add to the region's unemployment rate in a market already saturated with job seekers.

New Zealand Post is cutting 90 jobs at its Waikato Mail Centre, and in Thames the sale of the Southern Cross wood mill sees more than 60 jobs go.

Statistics show the unemployment rate in the Waikato (7 per cent in March), is higher than the national average of 6 per cent - the same time last year this rate was below the national average.

Mark Colls was one of 125 workers made redundant when the Hutton's meat-processing plant shut down at the end of March.

He has had no joy in finding suitable employment since then.

"I've applied everywhere but I haven't had any luck, I'll take anything."

Colls has a part-time job but "it's not enough to live on."

"I work two-hours a day as a cleaner at [Waikato University], but that's not enough to pay costs."

He said he has the support of his partner and is fortunate because she is about to start a good job as a registered nurse.

First Union Redundancy Support, Te Aroha Tihi, was also an ex-Huttons employee and has kept in contact with around 100 of the redundant workers.

He said he noticed a huge culture of businesses in the Waikato area preferring to hire casual-workers.

"I totally understand that, at the end of the day, they are a business; [casual] labour doesn't necessarily work well . . . a lot of [workers'] payments or loans which they previously had, cannot be met by a lot of temporary work because it's not enough money and it's not very stable."

Tihi said the job seekers he works with want to find work but there is a lack of opportunities.

"I think there is still a strong resolve for the workers to seek employment. A lot of them haven't given up . . . And again, the fact that they need stable employment, some of the members are deliberately avoiding having to go to agencies."

Labour leader David Cunliffe addressed First Union on Tuesday and Colls was there.

He was looking forward to what Cunliffe had to say about creating job opportunities for the Waikato region.

Donna-Lee Biddle is a Wintec journalism student. 

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- Waikato Times

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