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If you’re looking to retail, John, the work’s not there

Date of Release: 
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The government needs a reality check on where exactly sole parents under pressure from WINZ will find jobs, when there is already intense competition for hours in service sector work, the retail workers’ union said today.

John Key has defended his government’s welfare changes by saying there are plenty of jobs for people if they look really hard, suggesting remote, minimum-wage, seasonal horticulture work as an example.

But low paid service sector work like retail is in practise where the government will be expecting women to work – and there are already tens of thousands of workers there who want more hours as it is, said Maxine Gay, Retail Secretary for FIRST Union.

“There would not be a supermarket or department store that didn’t have workers actively seeking more hours because their incomes, from working less than 40 hours a week, are not enough to live on,” she said.

“Every time we go into a store we meet workers who want more hours.  The reality is they are often offered a couple of extra hours late at night or on weekends.”

“These are exactly the times when childcare is difficult to find and it is disruptive to the rest of the family.”

“Primary school children have 12 weeks holiday and term breaks a year.  Most retails workers have 4 weeks holiday a year.  Retail workers already struggle with juggling work and childcare.”

“So we have a retail industry where although some players are doing well, a large number of stores have been hit by reduced consumer spending since 2008, and added to this, a workforce that wants more hours.”

“For the government to introduce punitive welfare changes without any thought as to where the work will be, or how sole parents will access adequate childcare, often in unsociable hours, is absolutely reckless.”

“The government should be taking an aggressive approach to job creation, looking at structural solutions to employment in New Zealand to support good jobs, not proposing a welfare regime that punishes sole parents in their work of looking after our kids.”

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