28 Jan 2009

US, Europe job losses predicted to affect NZ firms

9:05 am on 28 January 2009

Business and union groups in New Zealand say the loss of tens of thousands of jobs this week in Europe and America is bad news for this country.

The job losses cover a broad range of companies, including electronics company Philips Electronics, insurance firm ING and construction equipment giant Caterpillar, and underline the growing severity of the global downturn.

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says the grim news means local firms' earnings and jobs will be put under extreme pressure.

He said consumers in Europe and the United States will reduce spending even further.

Mr O'Reilly said New Zealand is in a better position than most to cope, with low unemployment and low government debt, and a sound financial system.

The government will announce further measures to help small businesses next week, while an employment summit will be held next month.

But Mr O'Reilly said these and other steps, such as another round of tax cuts in April, are not silver bullets to the crisis.

Council of Trade Union secretary Peter Conway agrees, saying the news coming from overseas should shake out any potential complacency.

He said wage increases will be needed to stimulate domestic demand, and productivity will be an important issue.