Red Alert

Archive for the ‘outsourcing’ Category

National’s legacy; false economy

Posted by on July 21st, 2012

Today at the National Party conference, Steven Joyce spun the line that his Party was all about jobs and the Opposition was about fairytales.

His own intellectual dishonesty is breathtaking. Neither he, nor any member of his government have ever been able to articulate the source of  the Kiwi jobs of the future other than in vague unsubstantiated terms.

His government has instead made countless decisions which have cut skilled Kiwi jobs and resulted in the flight overseas of thousands of New Zealanders who should have been plotting their futures in our country not elsewhere.

Perhaps one of the worst things this government has done to demonstrate its disregard for Kiwi jobs, Kiwi skills and Kiwi industry is to use the purchasing power of government to buy trains built in China which do not meet New Zealand standards.In doing this they are responsible for destroying essential skills and ensured that a whole industry has been cut off at the knees.

A country that deliberately destroys manufacturing capability is not a smart country.

Yesterday, Radio NZ revealed that the brakes on all 500 Chinese-built freight wagons ordered by KiwiRail had to be replaced before they could hit the tracks last year.

Initial tests found that when the wagons were fully loaded to 72 tonnes, the wagons did not stop within the required 650 metres.

The wagons have been in New Zealand for less than a year and have been plagued with problems. Kiwirail pretends it’s no big deal and the government says it’s an operational issue and nothing to do with them. They have backed Kiwirail all the way in its outsourcing decisions. At some point they will become accountable.

As a result, the Hillside Rail workshops in Dunedin, which made the original wagons in the 1950s, has been gutted, skilled workers made redundant and now the workshops are up for sale in a deal which Kiwirail shows little enthusiasm for.

False economy is a kind way of describing the harebrained decision to buy cut price substandard wagons shipped across the world, which require serious faults to be fixed and parts replaced before they can even be put on the tracks. It’s my understanding that some of the wagons are already demonstrating more serious faults.

How long will it be before there is a serious derailment involving these wagons? Who will be held accountable then?

Gordon Campbell wrote sensibly about this issue yesterday.

Steven Joyce, meanwhile, speaks with a forked tongue.

Port dispute not about eggs

Posted by on February 24th, 2012

The start of an extended strike today by Waterfront workers over the Port of Auckland’s determination to casualise or contract out the jobs of its workforce means everyone loses.

Port workers and their families will lose incomes, businesses will be disrupted, other workers will be affected and the Auckland economy will take a hit at a time when we least need it.

Last week, there was a call from a group of influential Auckland business interests and the CTU for a modern approach to employment relations which maintains an efficient and productive Port, retains decent jobs and is not part of the race to the bottom. This was refreshing and gave hope of a solution.

But I wasn’t that impressed with Council CEO Doug McKay’s comments at the recent Council meeting where he said :

But I keep reminding Len, and I have been in a commercial environment in this sort of situation a few times over the years, that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, and the people have to feel like they can almost go to the brink and look over it before they come back.

This isn’t about making omelettes or brinkmanship, although Doug McKay‘s done plenty of it in his time.

Resolution of this dispute needs good will, determination and good faith bargaining. And it will require compromise.

Auckland Council should reconsider its unrealistic demand for a 12% return on capital, Ports management should withdraw their take it or leave it plans to contract out or casualise jobs and the union has repeated its offer to make changes to work practices and its collective agreement that will improve labour utilisation rates.

Broken eggs won’t do it.

Lusk, Farrar, Slater, Williams to run anti MMP campaign

Posted by on May 29th, 2011

A few weeks ago I ran a series of posts which outlined the role the shadowy Simon Lusk in National Party selections, the Brash Act leadership coup and indicated that he was chasing the lucrative anti MMP campaign.

I don’t think I’ve ever had as many National MPs thanking me – for letting them know how someone they trusted was in fact outsourced by Steven Joyce to do work in the coup to put Brash into Act. Many were not aware that he had a role in several selection campaigns some of which was sub contracted to Whaleoil.Many however suspected what polls now show, that Brash has significantly higher negatives than Hide and that women who supported Act would abandon the party. Interesting how Joyce has moved – with this, the Mediaworks scandal and the mess he has made by indemnifying Telecom for UFB losses – from hero to close to zero.

The Sunday Star Times today has part of the story:-

Those behind a campaign to shoot down MMP have killed before.

The right is getting ready to fire both barrels at MMP. A group of activists with links to National and Act are busy preparing a campaign against the electoral system. They are hardened politicos and some happen to share an interest in hunting, shooting and fishing. But it’s not clear if they’ll kill off MMP.

Cactus Kate funds Whale?

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

So the Prickly One  is paying Whale’s legal fees, which offshore account does that come out of or is it another brown bag?

I’m not sure if she is the sort of lawyer who runs a trust account – her comments have never struck me as generous, but unclear whether it is her cash or just an agency arrangement.

Let’s talk about these green jobs

Posted by on January 30th, 2011

A few years ago, before I became an MP, I attended a property services conference in Helsinki, run by the Global Union for Cleaners, UNI.

I was struck by a presentation from ISS, a global facilities service provider, who talked about how cleaning jobs could be revolutionised, particularly with the growing emphasis on green buildings.

At that stage, most cleaners (including NZ) were employed in the traditional way. As the office staff clocked out, the cleaners clocked in – out of sight, out of mind, working for low wages – working at multiple sites and for multiple employers, often wandering from site to site during the night.

ISS talked about this could change – how cleaning could take place during the day, with cleaners working alongside other staff and perhaps expanding their skills beyond cleaning to pick up other facilities work.

So I was interested to read in Saturday’s Dom Post “that there is office cleaning revolution gathering pace in NZ, where the days of mops and wringer buckets filled with unsafe chemicals and sloshed along office corridor floors and noisy vacuum cleanings trailing long chords are numbered.”

ISS NZ is changing the equipment issued to cleaners to lightweight adjustment aluminum mops, microfibre cloths and battery powered quiet vacuum cleaners. Beginning at Te Papa a couple of years ago, ISS, who employs around 4000 cleaners says that the new system has now been adopted by 25% of their clients.

And the biggest change : changing from nighttime cleaning to daytime cleaning, bringing savings for companies in electricity and security.

While ISS says the savings are great for companies, I think the changes can create a revolution for the traditional job of a cleaner, in a number of ways. Firstly, they are more integrated as part of the building staff, not a group of “fairies” who magically appear while we’re at home sleeping. The higher visibility of cleaning staff during the day should raise the overall awareness of the process and more respect towards cleaners, especially when they see them working to keep the building clean. Coming face to face with the cleaner means greater care is often taken by staff and visitors to keep the building clean.

Secondly, daytime work offers much more family friendly options for cleaners and could make the work much more desirable.

I’ve always said cleaners are undervalued. They are responsible for millions of dollars worth of equipment, and now they’re at the forefront of sustainablility in our downtown offices, our airports, schools and hospitals.

The big question is whether that means cleaners’ jobs become worth more (currently, the rate is set at $13.10 an hour), whether there can be decent, full time jobs created through upskilling to take on other work in the day to day life of an office.

NZ’s model of competitive tendering means that more often than not, cleaners are transferred to a new employer who expects them to do the same amount of work for fewer hours.

So, let’s have a revolution in office cleaning, but if it’s still work for vulnerable workers who have to work two or three jobs to make a living, it’s only a revolution for the better off.

John Key clambers onto the bandwagon

Posted by on July 29th, 2010

Um I don’t remember John Key making these comments when Telstra Clear decided to send 48 jobs  from Kapiti to a Philippine Call Centre! And now another 70 jobs from the Auckland call centre are under threat.

Or when there was talk about Telecom outsourcing and offshoring several thousand jobs (NB Telecom has  since advised me those plans are “on hold” for now). Steven Joyce is on record as sayign the government has no responsibility for decisions made by a private company on outsourcing.

What’s changed? John Key is reading the political wind. Well I’m glad he’s sticking up for Kiwi jobs. Maybe he could announce support for the Kiwi Jobs Bill which aims to put in place a procurement policy to maximise opportunities for local businesses when tendering for large government projects.

Read what he had to say:

Prime Minister John Key says companies choosing to send their call centres to other parts of the world “are making the wrong choice”.

He wants other New Zealand companies to take note of Canon’s new call centre on the Shore.

Mr Key told the North Shore Times it is a positive move to open call centres in New Zealand because it creates employment for people of different age groups and ethnicities.

Let us get clear policy on school PPPs

Posted by on July 23rd, 2010

A reminder of a previous post on school  PPPs :-

But lets make it clear. Labour will develop a clear policy position on this. It will involve unwinding the contracts – using legislation if necessary. As with ACC in the past and if there is another privatisation.

And my view is that policy will involve compensation for the value of the bricks and mortar but not for the overheads and tender costs.

So be warned – don’t spend up on getting these deals together.

Is this what we call ambitious for NZ?

Posted by on July 13th, 2010

Judith Collins is boasting about the economic benefits of a new private prison at Wiri, South Auckland.  She says the prison will generate $1.2 billion in economic activity over 30 years (yes, that’s 30 years). Something for the people of South Auckland to really look forward to.

I’m not proud that NZ already locks up more people (other than the USA) in any country in the OECD. But it looks like we’re going to need more prisons because of the NActs lock-em-up and throw-away-the-key policies that they’ve been steadily introducing since they became government.

In fact, if we look at parliamentary time spent since the NActs became government, I would guess that more than 50% has been spent on “being tough on crime”, while meantime, programmes for families  – programmes that will ensure our children and families are supported and valued are being cut.

I think we’ve lost the plot if we think economic opportunities lie in locking more people up. This is not going to improve the quality of life for all New Zealanders, let alone lower inequalities.

But I do know who will be doing well out of this.  Private foreign owners of prisons.

John Key said he was ambitious for New Zealand.

Ambitious to become the prison centre of the world?

More turmoil at Telecom

Posted by on May 6th, 2010

Three things happening.

1. More information about job cuts. The Independent’s Jenny Keown (can’t link to it sorry) reports 50 senior positions to go from Telecom Retail. What happens to the projects they were managing? And the people who were working on those projects?

2. IBM is tipped to become Telecom’s major outsourcing partner. This fits with information that a major offshoring of jobs within Telecom’s shared services area is planned, though is now likely to be managed in several stages.

2. Tomorrow Telecom will release details from a report into the XT failure. I wonder how much of the report they’ll release.

Hope the Government is paying attention.

Does Steven Joyce believe in Kiwi skills and capability?

Posted by on May 3rd, 2010

Today a strong independent economic case has been made to spend close to $400m of taxpayers money building locomotives and rolling stock in New Zealand for Auckland’s electric rail. But it seems the government and Kiwirail senior management don’t want and don’t believe in a kiwi build.

A Berl economics report commissioned by the Dunedin City Council and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union details the benefits of having Auckland’s 13 electric locomotives and 114 “cars” built in New Zealand, creating up to 1275 new jobs.

The city council, chamber of commerce, local engineering firms, Hillside Workshops, the rail union and all of Dunedin’s MPs have been working on this issue for months quietly behind the scenes. Supported by the Hutt workshops and Hutt MP.

NZ has two railways workshops with considerable capacity and skill. Seems the Minister and the CEO of Kiwirail are impervious to this and intent on an overseas build. A draft capability report from within Kiwirail would appear to say otherwise. What is going on?

This is what Steven Joyce had to say in this morning’s ODT:

Transport Minister Steven Joyce, however, yesterday said he understood KiwiRail was not intending to enter a bid. It had never done anything similar before, and there were international companies with a lot of experience.

“It would be a bit like saying we need a fleet of high-end cars, let’s go and get our mechanics to build them, instead of buying them off Audi or BMW, or somebody who does this sort of stuff for a living.”

and in the NZ Herald:

But KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn, while welcoming the effort put into the exercise, said last night that the Government-owned corporation was unlikely to bid for its own contract.

“We haven’t made our final call but think it would be very unlikely,” he told the Herald. “It is hard to see any way we could be genuinely competitive – people around the world build these things for a living, and EMUs [electric railcars] are a sophisticated bit of kit.”

It’s extraordinary that Jim Quinn, not in the job for long, would dismiss out of hand his orgnisation’s own capacity. Where is his evidence? It’s my understanding that we do have the capacity to build in NZ.

The Berl report points out that while New Zealand could produce the rolling stock more cheaply than Europe or North America but “it may be possible” for Asian sources to supply at a cheaper price than elsewhere.

“However, the quality and expected life could be less and it was possible the “whole of life” cost of the rolling stock could be higher than for that made in New Zealand.

Why can’t we build these electric trains  in New Zealand Mr Joyce? Perhaps not every single bit of them. But we do have the skills and the capacity. And isn’t there a very strong case for keeping Kiwi jobs and skills Kiwi?

Doesn’t say much for the Minister’s confidence in the Kiwi workforce and Kiwi skills. Does this reflect the government’s view?

Keeping kiwi jobs kiwi

Posted by on April 29th, 2010

Good on Tom Pullar-Strecker for ferreting this out in today’s DomPost, where he reports that Indian technology giants Tech Mahindra and Wipro are bidding for a huge information technology outsourcing contract at Telecom in competition with IBM and Hewlett-Packard, according to a report from Mumbai. There’s no doubt Telecom are looking at a potential very big outsourcing move which could take large numbers of Kiwi jobs offshore.

I just happened to have also been sent the article I think he based his story on which says that India’s top outsourcing vendors Tech Mahindra and Wipro, apart from multinational rivals IBM and HP, are currently in discussions with Telecom for a contract potentially worth up to $1 billion and plans to cut costs and improve profits by outsourcing non-core IT work.

All in line with information I’ve been given previously, which Telecom has been denying.

Two weeks ago Telecom announced it was axing 200 managers, mainly from Telecom Technology and Telecom shared services. It is my understanding that those jobs represent a workforce of between 1000 and 2000. There are a myriad of projects and other jobs within Telecom that will be affected.

Last week we saw Telstra Clear announces it will cut up to 170 call centre jobs in Christchurch and Paraparaumu to outsource them to the Philippines. Unrelated, but part of an ongoing and worrying trend.

Acrosss the ditch yesterday we saw Telstra announce it was axing 900 operations employees responsible for installing and maintaining the telco’s infrastructure networks, saying technology has made the roles redundant. 

Telecom is contemplating massive change. I think they should come clean  becasue there’s so many jobs at stake. I also think the government should pay attention. This is our telecommunications infrastructure.