Tuesday, 30 September 2014

CCC - options for ensuring financial viability long term

The Christchurch City Council are actively seeking input into options for ensuring that it is financially viable long term. Under current projections things start to get really interesting from a financial perspective from 2016 onwards.

The Council will be considering all options, although some are much less likely than others. For example the capacity to raise more debt is limited and is almost certainly not a viable option.

Rates are already projected to continue to increase significantly and there will be very limited appetite from the community for an increased rates burden.

There are savings to be made through increased efficiencies, but in the context of a projected $800 million shortfall, they will be nowhere near enough.

The real money is in the long term service offerings of Council; Council’s ownership of land and property and its commercial entities, mainly positioned under Christchurch City Holdings Limited.

CECC will be making a comprehensive submission to CCC on what we consider to be the best way forward in the long term interests of our community.

If you have any views please send them through to me  at petert@cecc.org.nz.

We are looking to the long game and it is going to be a critical play!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Forward Works Viewer: Coordinating the Canterbury Rebuild

A well-planned city relies on coordination. The Canterbury rebuild is an exciting example of large-scale coordination in action. When planning a vibrant and accessible city in a rebuild environment, location information needs to be easy to share. This kind of information helps planners and designers to create informed and innovative designs.

In 2013, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) established the Canterbury Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Programme to make it easier to share location-based information between the public, private, and research sectors in the rebuild.

LINZ worked with CERA, SCIRT, CCC, and CTOC (Christchurch Transport Operations Centre) to develop one of the central projects in the Canterbury SDI Programme, the Forward Works Viewer – an interactive spatial viewer that shows a 2D+time view of rebuild activity in Christchurch. Access to the Viewer helps project planners to share information about current and planned vertical and horizontal construction, and repair and maintenance activities. The data within the Viewer is private, and can only be accessed by professional users with a login.

The Viewer helps users to identify network impacts and opportunities, and avoid expensive clashes and delays before they happen. A network impact is a closure or capacity reduction of the infrastructure network. Knowledge of network impacts allows network managers (such as those managing the transport network) to mitigate the effect that these impacts can have. A clash occurs when two or more projects intersect in time and space, and would disrupt each other if they couldn’t find a way to reschedule, or find ways opportunities to collaborate (such as sharing road space or a crane).

When CTOC was tasked with planning routes for the Royal tour in April of this year, they used the Forward Works Viewer to find routes that would meet security requirements, and showcase Christchurch without impacting on rebuild activity.

With as many as 40 construction crews working on Christchurch CBD roads every day, the Viewer allowed CTOC to note future projects that had not yet started, but which would be underway by the time the Duke and Duchess arrived – allowing the routes to be planned six weeks in advance.

This enabled the Royal visitors to tour Christchurch and gain an insight into the scale and complexity of the rebuild without causing significant delays or impacts on the work going on.

People in Canterbury often ask if the rebuild is being coordinated or planned, and this answer to this question is ‘yes’. Coordination is possible because of the Forward Works Viewer and the willingness of utlities companies, government agencies, and private sector companies to share their data. Everyone has an incentive to see what the other parties are doing and this will work to reduce the costs of the recovery and speed up the process of the rebuild.

A reduction in rebuild costs and delays has already been achieved through this project. To date, $4 million of benefits have been attributed to the Forward Works Viewer, with $20 million of benefits forecast for the next two years. Benefits can be seen in many ways.  It could be as a result of reduction of impact to the transport network, or reduced clashes between construction projects. Benefits also involve identification of unnecessary reinstatement of below-the-ground infrastructure as SCIRT can now see the buildings that will be built around the pipes they are repairing.

To watch a short video about the different ways the Forward Works Viewer is being used to coordinate the rebuild visit: http://youtu.be/nDX9JlM716Q

BusinessNZ Wellington Seminar

The Wellington Seminar helps executives make connections and gain influencing skills in the place where laws, regulations and policies are made. It is a one and a half day course led by BusinessNZ experts, business leaders, relevant politicians and top government officials with real experience in creating the policy environment.

The Seminar is designed to raise awareness of, and create an understanding of, the political environment and how it can be engaged with to help achieve an organisation's mission. It focuses on developing executives' external influencing skills, providing participants with the ability to deepen their networks with other participants and with key people in Wellington.

The next upcoming seminar is on 20 & 21 October 2014. For further information, pricing and how to apply for a place please click here. Applications for the October seminar close on 13 October 2014.

Monday, 15 September 2014

CECC Board Elections

Voting  for the CECC Board members is now open and in full swing.

Each year half  (six) of our Board members are elected. This year we have 11 nominations for 6 positions.

Voting is all on line and very user friendly. To get into the electronic platform click here.

You will need your pin number and password to vote. This was sent to the key contact of all member organisations by Electionz .com who have very professionally managed our voting processes for the past 10 years.

Only one vote per member for up to six Board members is permitted.

If you have misplaced your PIN number please contact clairem@cecc.org.nz who will look after you.

This year the Candidate profiles include a video clip, from each of the candidates, describing what they can offer the Chamber from a governance perspective.

At CECC we pride ourselves on  having a strong democracy in our governance process. That is dependent on as many of our members voting as is possible.

It is easy! Electionz.com have ensured that.

Please participate!

The new Board will be announced at our AGM, being held at ilex CafĂ© on October 9. Our guest speaker will  be Christchurch City Council CEO, Karleen Edwards, talking about her first 100 days in office.

Refreshments will be available.

To register for the AGM  please click here.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

90-day Trial – 5 Years On

Originally limited to use by small business (those employing fewer than 20 persons) the 90-day trial was introduced on 1 March 2009.  It was subsequently extended to enable use by all organisations.

Despite dire predictions from trade unions of a “fire at will” mentality being created, the 90-day trial scheme has been almost universally popular with employers and smaller employers in particular.  Many hail the scheme as being responsible for providing them with the confidence to engage employees who would not otherwise have been given the chance of employment.  In the majority of cases the employment relationship has worked well and we believe that many more people are now in employment than would otherwise have been the case without the trial.

Local carpet retailer Carpet Kingdom is typical of the SME’s who have embraced the 90-day trial.  Owner Terry Delore says that without the 90-day trial several of those with the company today would probably never have been given the chance of employment by Carpet Kingdom.  “It’s been a good scheme” he says, “and it’s worked well for both us and our employees”.  “Everyone has had a decent opportunity to evaluate whether a job in this industry and Carpet Kingdom is right for them and we’ve been able to have a good look at them and their work ethic at the same time”.  “Removing this scheme would be madness” Terry says.

Many advocate that the trial period should be longer than the maximum 90-days currently permitted.  They cite the longer trial periods prevalent in other countries such as the UK and Australia.  There is some force in that argument particularly given that the present scheme does not allow for extension under any circumstances.  An employee could, for example, be employed for a week then suffer an accident and be off work for a lengthy period thereby effectively devaluing the purpose of the trial through not having sufficient time within whatever is left of the 90 days to practically demonstrate suitability for the position.

Most concern though is not with the scheme itself but the stringent requirements which act as a precondition to its legality.  It must be an agreed term of the written employment agreement and that agreement must be signed before employment commences.  Failure to do so will mean that the employee will not be regarded as a new employee – the 90-day trial is restricted to new employment relationships i.e. where there has been no previous employment relationship between the parties – and therefore not subject to the terms of the trial which restrict an employee’s ability to bring personal grievance proceedings.

Given the uptake and success of the 90-day trial it is suggested that consideration should be given to reversing the present situation so that all employment relationships would, by law, be assumed to be subject to trial unless the parties otherwise agree.  This would remove the burden now placed on employers to make sure the paperwork is squared away before the trial can lawfully exist.

No political party appears to be ready to adopt that particular approach. Instead the Labour Party has said that it will abolish the 90-day trial.  That would not be a popular move amongst the legions of small employers in New Zealand and would almost certainly have repercussions for job seekers at the margins (e.g. youth, migrants etc.) and at times when employment is needed most.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Migration to Canterbury is at an all-time high

Migration to Canterbury is at an all-time high as the rebuild workforce continues to grow. The Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce (CECC) has, for several years, been contracted by Immigration NZ (INZ) to deliver its Settlement Support programme to help businesses who employ new migrant staff.  Recently, the national INZ model for this service has changed but CECC’s programme for businesses still provides the resources and advice employers need to ensure new migrants to Christchurch settle in quickly.  This introduction to CECC’s Annual Report for its Skilled Migrant Business Services, formerly Settlement Support, tells a timely story of our region’s growing migrant population:

In many ways, SSNZ Christchurch (CHC) has been a test case for seeing how the new national SSNZ model can and should work. The one-to-many group approach is effective, which is important given the sheer numbers of both new migrants to our region and the organisations that employ them. 
Thousands of new migrants and their employers-- including managers, supervisors, HR practitioners and that all-important role in the construction sector, foreman -- have accessed the service through SSNZ Chch’s events and resources. Evaluations of the service’s events provide evidence of just how helpful and relevant these are to both new migrants and employers, and informal feedback has been collated to provide an indication of the breadth of the service to businesses in Canterbury.

Nearly 1000 newcomers and over 300 employers have had direct contact with the service over the past year, through attendance at our seminars and workshops, meetings, and enquiries. These figures do not include those who were recipients of direct emails, newsletters, mailouts or promotional material, or who read or listen to our many promotional activities such as the Lane Neave newsletter and Canterbury Cultures on Plains FM radio.

The Monthly Newcomers’ Event – now in its third year – regularly attracts 40-80 new migrants and their families, with a record 182 attending this year’s Kiwi Christmas party. A seminar to inform new Filipino workers about their employment rights and processes in NZ attracted over 100 new migrants, while 134 supervisors, foreman, managers, and HR practitioners benefitted from in-depth INZ settlement information through our employer workshops.

A new newsletter for employers of migrants was initiated during this period to better utilise the business networks the service has established and to promote the INZ resources, tools, events, and immigration and settlement news and tips.

The employment of a second SSNZ Coordinator this year has extended both the depth and breadth of the service for both newcomers and employers.  While events, enquiries, and information distribution are managed responsively and with a high quality, more strategic and higher level work can also be addressed through the service.

I am confident that this report provides a solid basis of evidence and analysis that INZ/MBIE can use to demonstrate that the new approaches we have set up in Christchurch – some of which are now part of SSNZ’s new model – are effective in achieving INZ’s settlement outcomes.