Wellington unemployed people are being forced by WINZ to attend "confidence building" courses at which they are being
told to vote for the ACT Party according to UNITE!, the union representing unemployed and community wage workers.
"One course, held last week in the Capital Development Centre was led by self employed businessman Mike Winton. Winton
praised ACT's proposed 20% tax rate, told participants that the best way to get ahead was to vote for ACT and after
drawing a line down the centre of a white board, asked those on the course to state whether they supported the political
Right or the Left. Those who said they supported the Left were told that they must be supporters of Soviet Russia." said
Caroline Hatt, Secretary of UNITE!
"Participants were shown American 'Think Positive and Get Rich' videos and made to undertake exercises where they were
given a theoretical budget of $310 million and told to slash it to allow for tax breaks.
"A course participant told me yesterday that the people on the course were told they must develop an 'Attitude of
Gratitude'," said Ms Hatt. "One of the men on the course - a man in his 50s - was told that there was no way he would
ever get employment because he didn't have the correct political attitude.
"This course is an outrageous abuse of Work and Income NZ's power over unemployed people" said Ms Hatt. "Unemployed
people are obliged to attend these courses or are at risk of having their benefits cut. What gives WINZ the authority to
tell unemployed people how they should vote. Surely this is a breach of Human Rights. What kind of thinking can possibly
imagine that American 'Think Positive and Get Rich' videos and slashing a theoretical budget of $3million to make room
for tax breaks is going to increase the confidence of unemployed people. And how many more ACT propaganda courses has
WINZ sponsored over the last few months?
"UNITE! has written to the Minister of Social Welfare, Roger Sowry, calling for the immediate cancellation of such
courses. We have also demanded that Mike Winton's contract be terminated and details of how much Mr Winton was paid to
run these courses," said Caroline Hatt.
For further details contact Caroline Hatt, Ph 04 237 5062 (w) or 04 380 1104 (h).