Enews July 2012
All NARGON members should know the answer to these three questions:
Food prices up in June but down for the year
Figures from Statistics New Zealand show food pricesrose1.4 percent in June 2012 with the increasedriven mainly by seasonally higher vegetable prices. The fruit and vegetables subgroup was up9 percent, the meat, poultry and fish subgroup increased 1.3 percent while both the grocery food subgroup and the restaurant meals and ready-to-eat foodsubgroup rose 0.3 percent. The non-alcoholic beverages subgroup (down1.5 percent) was the only one to fall.
Compared to June 2011, food prices overall have dropped 0.2 percent in the last year. Three of the five food subgroups made downward contributions with lower prices recordedfor fruit and vegetables (down 2.6 percent), non-alcoholic beverages (down 2.4 percent) andgrocery food (down 0.6 percent). Higher prices were recorded forrestaurant meals and ready-to-eat food (up1.5 percent) and meat, poultry and fish (up2.2 percent). Significantly, fresh milk prices were down8 percent on June last year. Prices forcheddar cheese (down 16 percent) and butter (down 24 percent) were also considerably lower.
Political comment: Hon Peter Dunne
In this issue, Hon Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue and Leader of the United Future party, sets out his thoughts on liquor law reforms:
"Shortly, Parliament will be considering the final stages of the Alcohol Reform Bill. While this Bill's provisions will come as no great surprise they were, after all, foreshadowed by the Law Commission in its report in 2009, and have been the subject of much debate since and while the process under which they have developed and will be considered by Parliament has been much better than in previous reform attempts, doubts still remain about the practicality of some of the measures, and the impact they may have on curbing the binge drinking culture in New Zealand.
Of particular interest will be the new provisions regarding the way in which off-licences operate, and what new arrangements will be put in place regarding the minimum purchase age. One of the proposals the so-called split age between off-and on-licences raises particular enforcement issues. It is very hard to see how this might work in practice, particularly when those aged between 18 and 20 who can legally purchase off-licence today, and find they may not be able to in the future, are considered. The same argument applies if the age is raised to a flat 20 years.
Either way, the burden of compliance will fall heavily on off-licence retailers, which is unreasonable. It could be argued that this is the proper role of the Police, which is true, but the reality is that the Police will have far more important issues to worry about so the retailers will become the focal point. So, if the age is moved from its current flat 18 years, there is every prospect that small, off-licence retailers will face more, rather than less, challenges with regard to the enforcement of the law.
In that context, is not unreasonable to conclude that the safety of those retailers may be more, not less, at risk, because of disgruntled customers. All of which is somewhat pointless.
For those reasons alone, the retention of the age at 18 years is the only logical option to pursue.
Similar issues are likely to arise if, at some point in the future, regulations such as those currently applying in Australia, requiring tobacco products to be sold from locked no-display cabinets behind the counter are adopted here. As with alcohol, no-one credibly doubts the adverse health impacts of tobacco and the need for control policies, but the challenge, once more, is to implement policies that work, and not cause more problems than they resolve.
Most smokers are addicted to cigarettes, and are unlikely to be turned away by sealed cabinets. But they are likely to be angered by inconvenience, and retailers will be often be the ones to bear the brunt of that anger. It is illogical to seek to protect the health of smokers or drinkers by implementing policies that potentially impinge upon the safety of those who retail them.
Yet, sadly, that is precisely the risk we run. Once more, blinkered policy outcomes have the potential to ruin good policy intent.
NARGON notes that Mr Dunne is expected to have the crucial vote on a number of key provisions in the Alcohol Reform Bill.
As predicted, employment trial periods are working
Now part of the new "Super" Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the old Department of Labour has released a report examining the use of 90-day trial employment periods in small businesses (fewer than 20 employees). The first of three reports has been published on their website -- http://www.dol.govt.nz/publications/research/employers-perspectives-part1-trial-periods/index.asp
Here are the key findings:
UK: The Power of Social Media - Sainsbury's is doing it right
British supermarket giant Sainsbury's recently scored another public relations coup with a light-hearted response to a popular blogger's complaint on Twitter. October Jones, a comedian most famous for publishing text messages allegedly from his dog, has over 38,000 followers on Twitter. To put that in context, Labour leader David Shearer has 3,462 and comedian Mike King has 2,274 followers.
Jones tweeted that his chicken sandwich from the grocery chain "tastes like it was beaten to death by Hulk Hogan." The company's official Twitter account
The exchange has gone viral with thousands of people viewing and commenting on theexchange across social media. Once again, Sainsburys has used technology to change a potential damaging complaint into a public relations triumph. The text exchanges between Jones and his Dog can be viewed here: http://textfromdog.tumblr.com
UK: Scotland looking to ban free plastic bags
Scotland has become the latest nation looking to phase out free plastic bags at stores. The Scottish Government launched a three-month consultation process on a range of proposals but their election manifesto included a specific commitment to dramatically reduce the number of carrier bags being used. Their favoured option appears to be charging for bags in order to encourage shoppers to reuse them. It is currently proposed that the minimum charge be five pence (around ten cents in New Zealand money).
Similar schemes have been introduced in Wales and the Republic of Ireland. However, major retailers claim that the proposed scheme willadd pressure in already difficult trading conditions. The English Government is coming under increasing pressure to follow suit with the UK Treasury understandably interested in the extra revenue such a scheme could bring in.
Recent statistics show the number of plastic bags being used by supermarket shoppers in Britain has increased by 5.4% in the last year. It is still 32% lower than when records started in 2006. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the recent increase was due to families increasingly doing several smaller grocery shops during the week rather than one big trip, and a switch away from going to the store by car in favour of public transport. The tight economic situation was thought to be creating both dynamics which meant shoppers were less likely to have reusable bags with them
Reminder about written employment agreements
NARGON reminds all members that full written employment agreements are required for every single employee. This is a strict legal requirement. The member's section of the upgraded NARGON website contains draft agreements and advice on employment agreements www.nargon.co.nz.
Answers to 3 Questions