The week that was 26 June - 3 July | The Jackal

3 Jul 2011

The week that was 26 June - 3 July

Air New Zealand has terminated its membership to the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) following disparaging comments made by its chief executive Alasdair Thompson.

The EMA has been hit by angry feedback from its membership and others over Thompson's comments during a radio interview last week which suggested women take more sick leave because of their monthly periods.
"I have received a number of questions asking whether Air New Zealand is a member of the EMA following outrage at the CEO's public comments suggesting women are less productive and take more sick level because of their monthly periods," said chief executive Rob Fyfe.
"Air New Zealand was a member of the EMA, we terminated our membership this week," he said.
Alasdair Thompson has been under fire since June 23rd when he made comments that the gender wage gap was due to women taking more sick leave than men. He cited their "monthly sick problems" as a reason why.

Union member Jen Natoli said she expects more from a company that represents the views of businesses throughout New Zealand.
"It's also an issue with the EMA. They represent businesses and advise managers on how to treat their employees. As an organisation this represents a collective view that women can be paid less, and I don't think that's on," she said.
More than 3 millisieverts of radiation has been measured in the urine of 15 Fukushima residents of the village of Iitate and the town of Kawamata, confirming internal radiation exposure, it was learned last Sunday.

Both populated areas are about 30 to 40 km from the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which has been releasing radioactive material into the environment since the week of March 11, when the quake and tsunami caused core meltdowns.
“This won’t be a problem if they don’t eat vegetables or other products that are contaminated. But it will be difficult for people to continue living in these areas," said Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus of radiation biology at Hiroshima University.
This follows a number of frightening revelations concerning further radiation releases and containment mismanagement at the devastated nuclear power plant.

New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) is calling for greater levels of support, including lifting benefit payments, for families with children and for more investment to be made in rangatahi Maori and in Pacific young people.

After two years of releasing Vulnerability Reports, NZCCSS is distressed to be reporting a real and continuing deepening of vulnerability within New Zealand communities.
"The first Vulnerability Report was published in March 2009. Now a full 2 years later almost every indicator shows that New Zealand's inequalities are increasing with more people becoming worse-off as support for those on benefits and lower level wages doesn't keep up with costs," said Trevor McGlinchey, NZCCSS Executive Officer.
"The unemployment rates for young Maori and young Pacific people are unacceptably high and have been since the recession started. We must invest more in our youth - not to do so is will result in increasing cycles of income inequality along with health and social disparities instead of a hopeful and prosperous future. Community Max, employers' subsidies and other Youth Training schemes need reinstating or beefing up to help get our young people into employment," he said.
The Report shows that the numbers of people receiving unemployment benefits have increased by 214.9% since 2008 and that over the last 2 years Maori youth unemployment has risen from 18% to 28.8% with Pasifika rates rising to 28.1%. In 2009 the number of children supported in homes dependent on a social welfare benefit was 211,736 now it has increased to 232,262 - an additional 20,528 children who are likely to be living in poverty.

The report also states that the increases in basic living costs such as food, power, petrol and rent have been much greater than the increases in benefits and basic wages.
"All of these increases have been reflected in the worse-off getting much worse off and many who were doing okay now falling into the worse-off category. As a result Christian and other social service agencies have mobilized to meet a huge increase in need - food banks, counseling, budget advice, emergency housing and advocacy, even as they themselves face funding pressures as charitable donations and government funding has not keep up with demand,” said Ruby Duncan, NZCCSS President.
Poverty Action Waikato is deeply concerned by the findings within the Vulnerability Report released by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services.
“This report confirms the stories we are hearing from the coal face in the Waikato. Many people are struggling to meet their basic needs, food and electricity are becoming luxury items, and there are not enough opportunities for our young people” said Anna Cox, Poverty Action Waikato.
The report states that the increases in basic living costs such as food, power, petrol and rent have been much greater than the increases in benefits and basic wages.
“There are no surprises in this report. Our clients are ravaged by increasing living costs but their incomes have stayed the same. We need to ensure that people have the financial resources to meet their basic needs, or we all suffer the consequences in increasing stress, violence and crime in our communities” says Clare Mataira, Hamilton Budgeting Advice.

People throughout New Zealand travelled to various beaches and joined hands on Monday 25th June in a symbolic gesture to protest against non-renewable energy.

Hands Across The Sand is an international movement of people calling for Governments and industry to abandon their fossil fuel agendas.
"Coal emissions must be phased out as rapidly as possible or global climate disasters will be a dead certainty. Coal is the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet,” said Dr James Hansen, a top NASA climate scientist recently on tour in New Zealand.
"To see people joining hands today and literally making a line in the sand is very inspiring, 70 people came to hear Jeanette Fitzsimons speak on Southland Lignite developments at a meeting on Monday, and to have double that participating today in the international call for a renewable energy future, sends a strong message to the Government and industry, that New Zealand must leave the coal in the hole,” said Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson for Top of the South, Helen Tulett.
Coal Action Network Aotearoa came out in support of the Hands Across the Sand regional actions, which occurred at Tahunanui, Motueka, Pohara beaches and other beaches throughout New Zealand. These events will kick off an international day of action against fossil fuel extraction.
“We call for New Zealand to leave the coal in the hole. Coal Action Network Aotearoa stands in solidarity with the people in Nelson, Motueka, Golden Bay and people from countries around the world who are using their voices to call for a clean energy future – such as Australia, UK, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Norway and South Africa. There are 180 events confirmed in the US alone,” said Frances Mountier, spokesperson for Coal Action Network Aotearoa.
"Coal Action Network Aotearoa supports the call from the top of the south to phase out fossil fuels. We don't want to contribute to catastrophic climate change by supporting further fossil fuel extraction. Instead there needs to be more discussion around the economic opportunities Aotearoa New Zealand will miss out on. We need to priortise the development of home-grown clean technologies," she said.
Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CAN Aotearoa) is a group of climate justice campaigners committed to fighting the continuation of coal mining in Aotearoa New Zealand. CAN Aotearoa's objectives are to:
1. Phase out coal mining and coal usage within 20 years, initially by opposing new and expanded coalmines.
2. Promote a cultural change so that mining and using coal are unacceptable.
3. Work towards a society where people and the environment are not exploited for profit.
4. Be part of a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

An ExxonMobil pipeline in the US state of Montana has ruptured, leaking hundreds of barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, downstream from the famed Yellowstone national park, which is a major tourist attraction in the US.

The company said the pipe had been shut down and the segment where the leak happened had been isolated. Nearby residents were evacuated, but later allowed to return to their homes.

ExxonMobil spokeswoman Pam Malek said an estimated 750 to 1,000 barrels of oil had leaked from the pipe for about a half-hour before it was shut down.
"We recognise the seriousness of this incident and are working hard to address it. Our principal focus is on protecting the safety and health of the public and our employees," she said.
"If fish get oil on them, if they break the surface and get oil on them, it tends to plug up their gills and it often is fatal," said Bob Gobson, of the Billings Fish, Wildlife and Parks Program.
Exxon Mobil has been ordered to pay more than $1.5 billion in damages to 160 families and businesses affected by a 2006 gasoline leak in Maryland. Jurors awarded more than $1 billion in punitive damages on Thursday, after earlier awarding $495 million in compensatory damages. The award in Baltimore County Circuit Court follows a $150 million award in 2009 involving about 90 households. The company is appealing that ruling.

Exxon Mobil Corp, based in Irving Texas, said that it will appeal this ruling as well. The 2006 leak occurred in Jacksonville, a small, affluent community about 20 miles north of Baltimore. An underground pipe that burst beneath the gas station allowed more 26,000 gallons of gasoline to escape in the oil spill.