Why work­ers can't stay

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - JOSHUA WAL­TON joshua.wal­[email protected]

QUEEN­STOWN’S worker ac­com­mo­da­tion short­age has been branded a prob­lem that would not ‘‘go away any time soon’’ as com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments con­tinue to dom­i­nate the area.

Real Jour­neys gen­eral man­ager Paul Nor­ris said ‘‘plan­ning for af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion is needed’’ fol­low­ing a re­cent Queen­stown Cham­ber of Com­merce sur­vey, which showed the ma­jor­ity of the re­sort’s em­ploy­ers felt the short­age was one of the big­gest set­backs when hir­ing staff.

A lack of af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for work­ers was iden­ti­fied by 86% of 230 sur­vey re­spon­dents as ei­ther of­ten or al­ways an is­sue when em­ploy­ing New Zealand staff, with 76% say­ing the same for em­ploy­ing mi­grant work­ers.

With lim­ited af­ford­able hous­ing de­vel­op­ments in the re­sort, com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments were steam­ing ahead.

Dozens of new ho­tels and vis­i­tor ac­com­mo­da­tion have al­ready been ap­proved or are planned for the town.

Real

Jour­neys al­ready pro­vided ac­com­mo­da­tion for about a dozen of its work­ers at Walter Peak and the tourism gi­ant has pro­posed build­ing a staff vil­lage there to pro­vide hous­ing for more staff, up to a max­i­mum of 50 peo­ple.

Mr Nor­ris said the de­vel­op­ment ‘‘can’t come soon enough’’ and would make a big dif­fer­ence, par­tic­u­larly to sea­sonal staff work­ing there.

Cham­ber chair­man Craig Dou­glas said worker ac­com­mo­da­tion was ‘‘the sin­gle big­gest is­sue faced by em­ploy­ers’’, who wanted cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment to help with build­ing lower­cost ac­com­mo­da­tion in

the re­sort town.

‘‘News of the sit­u­a­tion is not new, how­ever solutions are slow to be de­vel­oped.’’ Mr Dou­glas said.

‘‘Hous­ing that is af­ford­able to many in Queen­stown’s labour force will re­quire mar­ket in­ter­ven­tion and ex­ter­nal fund­ing.’’

He said the sur­vey proved

‘‘em­ploy­ers need solutions now’’ but af­ford­able worker ac­com­mo­da­tion would not pop up overnight.

Moun­tain Scene re­ported last week that the re­sort’s hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try was fac­ing se­vere staff short­ages due to visa delays and other pres­sures. Im­mi­gra­tion NZ said it was work­ing to im­prove vis­apro­cess­ing times.

Mr Nor­ris said: ‘‘Our ob­ser­va­tion is that sea­sonal staff are stay­ing for shorter pe­ri­ods than pre­vi­ously.

‘‘They are get­ting their ‘Queen­stown ex­pe­ri­ence’ and mov­ing on, rather than stay­ing for a full sum­mer or win­ter sea­son.’’

The sur­vey re­sponses showed that 81% of em­ploy­ers be­lieved there was a short­age of ‘‘suit­able hous­ing op­tions’’ for NZ work­ers in the re­sort.

About 72% said the same for non­New Zealan­ders who were look­ing for em­ploy­ment.

As the cost of liv­ing in the re­sort rises, 7% of em­ploy­ers sur­veyed said they paid the min­i­mum wage of $16.50 an hour for un­skilled labour.

An­other 43% of re­spon­dents were pay­ing be­tween $16.51 and $19.99 an hour and only 10% were pay­ing $25 an hour or more to work­ers in this cat­e­gory.

PHOTO: JOSHUA WAL­TON

Hol­i­day buzz . . . Din­ers en­joy the at­mos­phere in Mall St in Queen­stown yesterday.

Paul Nor­ris

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.