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Pushback against earlier warning over risk in concreting jobs

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A warning to the government several years ago over the risk of concreting jobs being done badly due to a lack of regulation is now being downplayed.

Construction site manager of a building site looking on a structure

(File image).
Photo: 123rf

The National Party is accusing the Minister for Building and Construction of doing nothing about the risk.

Documents show that industry lobby group Concrete New Zealand asked two years ago for more training and regulation.

“Many issues with the durability of concrete can be directly related to the proficiency of the concrete placer,” it stated, in a briefing to Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa.

It was an unregulated area, with no barriers to entry for concrete workers, made worse by the sector’s skills shortage.

“A potential consequence of this lack of hands-on expertise … is that the competency of concrete placers may be poor, which in turn could lead to poor concrete performance,” the document stated.

Salesa told Parliament late last year, in answer to questions from National, that she did not seek more advice about this or discuss concrete worker training with the Minister of Education.

She did not respond to an RNZ request for comment.

Late last year, Salesa was confronted by a Wellington scanning company’s findings, that many major buildings had flawed concrete in them, including some with multiple serious voids, or hidden gaps, that reduced the strength of floors and walls.

She ordered the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to look into the findings, but it had not verified them or otherwise.

“MBIE has and continues to engage with Engineering New Zealand and councils, but without being able to identify specific buildings, verification is limited,” it said.

Concrete New Zealand is now downplaying the concerns it raised in the December 2017 briefing.

It “occasionally fields calls in which the quality of the concrete ‘finish’ is questioned”, its chief executive Rob Gaimster told RNZ in a statement, having declined an interview.

“These instances relate to aesthetics and are generally confined to a residential setting involving driveways, paths and patios.”

When RNZ questioned why it would raise such a seemingly trivial matter about how driveways look, in its first briefing to the incoming minister, when the construction sector was grappling with so many major problems, the group said “this was one of a number of topics” raised.

Also, the concern raised originally was about concrete placers, not concrete finishers.

Gaimster pushed back over the competency warning his group had issued, saying the “vast majority” of workers were competent, training was being promoted and guidance reviewed.

“The feasibility of introducing an industry-managed, audited concrete contractors’ scheme, which would cover placing and finishing, is currently being assessed.”

However, in its briefing to Salesa, the group had said the government should help to produce training programmes modelled on those overseas, and include a concrete worker category in the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Asked about this, the ministry told RNZ that quality controls on concrete were adequate.

“Current construction monitoring and quality control processes, in conjunction with BCAs [councils], is the appropriate place to manage the potential risk,” it said.

As for training, Concrete New Zealand could help set this up under the Construction Sector Accord, it said.

The National Party’s construction spokesperson, Andrew Bayly, said the minister’s inaction was unacceptable given the importance of concrete in construction.

“She’s confirmed that she hasn’t actually done anything about it,” Bayly said.

“There are concerns that we don’t have people being trained adequately to make sure the concrete is vibrated and put in place properly to meet all the concrete requirements and the industry has highlighted the issue to the minister.”

She could at least have raised the matter of training courses for concrete workers with the Minister of Education, Bayly said.

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Alaska university chancellor accepts new job in California

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage has announced that she plans to take a new position as the president of a California university.

Chancellor Cathy Sandeen said Thursday she accepted an offer to become president of California State University, East Bay.

Sandeen was appointed to the top position at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2018. The university said her last day will be Jan. 3.

She took over before a magnitude 7.1 earthquake damaged the Anchorage campus and as the University of Alaska system began to deal with a steeply declining budget leading to numerous program cuts.

The university recently announced plans to eliminate the hockey team and other sports unless it can raise enough money to cover operating expenses.

Sandeen will replace Leroy Morishita, the retiring president of California State University’s East Bay campus in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Hayward.

Sandeen said in an email Thursday to students and employees that she was leaving to be closer to family in California at “another public, open-access, urban-metropolitan university very similar to UAA.”

“We have accomplished much together and I am proud of how we withstood so many challenges — from earthquakes and financial exigency to program reviews and now a global pandemic,” Sandeen wrote. “UAA is a stronger and more stable university based on the ingenuity and collaboration of all members of our community.”

An interim chancellor will be appointed in the next few weeks by Pat Pitney, interim president of the University of Alaska system.

Sandeen’s decision to leave marks the third high-level departure from Alaska’s university system this year.

Jim Johnsen resigned as system president in June following criticism resulting from interviews for a post in Wisconsin.

Rick Caulfield, the head of the University of Alaska Southeast, retired this summer.

The Associated Press



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SSC JE application process ends today; check syllabus, paper pattern

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By: Careers Desk | New Delhi |

October 30, 2020 12:47:29 pm


SSC JE 2020SSC JE application process closes today at ssc.nic.in. Representational image/ file

SSC JE recruitment 2020: The application process for the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) junior engineer (JE) recruitment exam will be closed today. Interested, eligible candidates can apply at ssc.nic.in. Candidates can make payment online till November 1 and send offline challan till November 3.

The candidates will be selected on the basis of a computer-based test that will be held from March 22 to 25. Those who clear the CBT will be called for paper II dates of which are not released yet.

Read | UPSC CDS-I notification 2020: Application process begins; check exam pattern, how to apply

SSC JE 2020: Eligibility

Education: Applicant must be a person of Indian nationality and have a degree in a relevant stream of engineering. Candidates having a three-year diploma with two years of work experience can also apply.

Age: The upper age is capped at 30 years for most jobs barring positions at Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and Central Water Commission, for which the upper age limit is 32 years. Applicants belonging to a reserved category will get relaxation in the upper age limit as per the rules of the government.

SSC JE 2020: Exam pattern

The paper-I will consist of objective type, multiple-choice questions only. The questions will be set both in English and Hindi. There will be a negative marking of 0.25 marks for each wrong answer in paper-I. The paper-II will have to be written either in Hindi or in English. The candidate will have to opt for one language, if the part paper is written in Hindi and part in English, it will be awarded zero marks, as per rules.

Read | NSDC, Microsoft to train 1 lakh underserved Indian women in digital skills

Based on the performance in paper-I and paper-II, candidates will be shortlisted for document verification. The final selection and allocation of ministries or departments or organisations will be made on the basis of the performance of candidates in both the tests combined.

The finally selected candidates will get a salary in the range of Rs 35,400 to Rs 1,12,400.

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Time to end job destroying border closures

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Business Council of Australia

The Queensland government’s decision to ease some domestic travel restrictions doesn’t go far enough to give hope to Australians who want to get on with their lives and make plans for the future, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Just as NSW has demonstrated, there is no reason states cannot open back up if they have the right systems in place for tracking and tracing, local containment and quarantine.

“When states open back up again they start creating new jobs and give Australians the chance to get back to work.

“The cost of this border closure has been monumental. Reduced flights between Brisbane and Sydney airport alone have cost Australia’s economy $1.2 billion.

“The impact has been particularly acute in Queensland’s tourism and hospitality industries.

“Arbitrary border closures were a blunt weapon we needed to keep people safe in the early stages of the pandemic but they are unsustainable job killers.

“Queensland is desperately going to need the jobs that open borders and sensible risk management will create.

“It is an illusion that these restrictions will only have temporary effects. Every day that a business is shutdown, that customers are not coming through the door or that people can’t work is doing permanent damage and making it harder to recover.

“We must base these decisions on the strongest medical and scientific advice because they will have a massive impact on people’s lives and livelihoods for the long term.

“It is time for every state and territory to learn to live alongside this virus because every day of delay deepens the devastating social and economic harm this pandemic has caused.

“This will be devastating news to families hoping to reunite, for workers who need to cross borders to get to their jobs and for businesses looking towards the critical Christmas period.

“We need a highly-targeted, careful and gradual reopening of the national economy based on health advice with robust nationally consistent systems in place.

“Getting all of Australia’s domestic borders open again by Christmas would be a $3 billion gift to the nation.”

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.

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