Government provides $100 million to redeploy workers

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Government has allocated $100 million to help redeploy workers affected by the economic impact of Covid-19, with the hard-hit region of Gisborne-Tairawhiti to be the first helped.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford says Covid-19 is having a significant impact on workers throughout New Zealand.

“Nowhere more than on forestry workers in Tairawhiti. Our Government is moving quickly to help people stay in work through a $100 million package that will see workers redeployed into local alternative employment for the next three to six months. Of this funding, $28 million will go to Tairawhiti to help redeploy almost 300 workers.”

Twyford says forestry was one of the first industries to be seriously affected by Covid-19 but by keeping the infrastructure and workforce of the sector intact, the Government hopes it will be one of the first to recover.

Alternative work identified for Tairawhiti forestry workers includes:

  • local roading work, including road maintenance

  • hazardous tree removal

  • fast-tracked One Billion Trees projects

  • conservation activities

  • retraining and educational opportunities.

The Tairawhiti package will be administered through the Provincial Development Unit in partnership with the Mayors’ Forum and Gisborne District Council. Affected workers will be referred via the Ministry of Social Development’s Rapid Response Team and affected businesses.

“A significant portion of the Tairawhiti economy is linked to forestry, which accounts for 6.7 percent of regional GDP,” says Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

“The sector was just recovering from a slow-down over last winter. Many small firms used their cash reserves to get them through that and some companies are now struggling to survive.

“However, the future for the forestry sector is extremely bright and we want to ensure it is in a position to recover from the economic impacts of Covid-19 as quickly as possible. By redeploying workers to short-term projects, we can help ensure they are available to go back to the forestry sector once it returns to normal,” Jones says.