Burgeoning burger business good for jobs

A deal struck between Work and Income and McDonalds sounds great to Alf, which means we can count on it being dumped on by Greenie grouch Sue Kedgley. He’s surprised she hasn’t issued her condemnatory press release already.

Under the deal, thousands of beneficiaries could soon be flipping burgers, to provide customers with food they want regardless of Kedgley’s daft dietary demands.

The urge to munch burgers is so great – it seems – that McDonald’s is aiming to open 30 new restaurants over the next five years.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett revealed the agreement during a select committee meeting at Parliament yesterday. The agreement will provide up to 7000 unemployed for the fast-food chain’s restaurant expansion plans over the next five years.

During a debate on unemployment numbers, Bennett said Work and Income was taking an innovative approach to finding work for the 2700 people a week now signing on for the dole.

She said Work and Income was placing about 1600 people a week in jobs, leaving a weekly increase in beneficiary numbers of 1100.

According to the report at Stuff, Work and Income will help with the recruitment and training of 7000 staff in service roles under the deal with McDonalds and “positions which provide a career path”, Work and Income deputy chief executive Patricia Reade said.

“We’re very pleased that we will be able to offer unemployed people over the next five years opportunities in the food and hospitality trade,” she said.

But do we hear approving noises from the Labour side of the divide, as they excoriate the Government over rising unemployment?

Nah.

Labour employment spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said that while jobs at McDonald’s were better than being on the dole, the plan was “not the best example” of the Government’s commitment to “upskilling the economy”.

The deal followed the Government’s decision to cut a tertiary education training allowance for beneficiaries, she said.

“If that’s the vision for employment in New Zealand, it’s got quite a few pieces missing out of the jigsaw,” Dyson said.

As for Kedgley, she has been curiously quiet so far (or rather, Alf can find no record of her expressing an opinion on the employment deal).

This is in contrast to her delight when McDonald’s was dumped by police as the sponsor for their road safety campaign in schools, when she joined a chorus of so-called child health advocates who praised the move.

McDonald’s had given police $40,000 a year for the past 20 years, in a marketing campaign which included television advertisements and school visits.

But Acting Superintendent Sam Hoyle, national manager of youth services, told the Press newspaper the money was “a drop in the bucket” compared to the millions police already spent on road safety.

Police will make up the shortfall from their own budget, he said.

The end of the alliance with McDonald’s comes shortly after the government announced its $67 million, four-year campaign to tackle childhood obesity.

But police said the dumping was not related to the anti-obesity push.

Now the bloody cops are having to sell their cars to get their budget under control.

But Kedgley said she was delighted McDonald’s had been dumped, as schools should be commercial-free zones.

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