Professions across the New Zealand infrastructure sector could shed up to 30 per cent of staff over the next 6 months unless immediate measures are taken to protect workers and restart construction, says Infrastructure NZ CEO Paul Blair
We have been speaking with a cross section of our 140+ members over the last two weeks to better understand the impacts of the lockdown on their business and the broader infrastructure sector.
Contracting and construction companies could let go of up to 30% of their staff within 3 months under the current conditions.
In 6 months, those providing advisory and other support services will be in a similar critical position.
The construction sector was already in a precarious position, which the Construction Sector Accord – an industry-government partnership – is working to alleviate.
Infrastructure New Zealand has joined the Accord Steering Group. This Group is making positive progress with the Government at the table, listening carefully and rapidly considering ways to support the sector in these challenging and uncertain times.
What industry is hoping for is that the kind of on-site health and safety protection measures successfully employed in countries like Singapore and South Korea to keep construction sites open, can be equally successfully applied here.
Increased and ongoing Government subsidies might tide the industry over, but the clear mood of the sector is for a staged reduction from Level 4 to 3 and down of the Alert System.
If we can agree measures around personal protection over the next 3 weeks, the most essential construction projects could move down to Level 3, allowing work to restart.
Many infrastructure companies are talking about weeks rather than months before they risk insolvency. Several have already taken extraordinary measures to cut salaries and reduce employee hours.
The infrastructure sector will be essential to New Zealand’s rebuild and recovery. If we can mitigate infection risks and provide for a staged return of construction, New Zealand can emerge from this crisis as quickly as possible.
Infrastructure New Zealand is hosting a webinar at 4pm today, 31 March, where CEO Paul Blair will provide more details from our discussions with industry and government leaders as well as presenting the results of our online survey. He will also be taking questions from attendees. Please click here to register for the webinar.