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'Not economically feasible': Erik's Fish & Chips' Anna Arndt

By PHILIP CHANDLER

A Queenstown fish and chips vendor fears a high new median hourly rate for sponsored migrant staff could kill her business.

Erik’s Fish & Chips’ Anna Arndt’s referring to the median rate of $27.76 an hour coming into effect in July.

She says two of her four staff are sponsored, and she’s about to take on another one.

‘‘I love to look after my staff,’’ she says, pointing out she pays them more than the new minimum wage of $21.20 an hour.

‘‘But the problem is, I’ll have to close my business, basically be cause I couldn’t afford to be paying everyone $27.76 an hour, because if I’m paying the sponsored staff that, I have to pay all my staff that rate, at least.’’

To afford that, she’d have to sell a scoop of chips for $10, she says.

‘‘It’s just not economically feasible.

‘‘Already, we are suffering enough with inflation, and the effects of Covid.

‘‘We’re struggling with massive price increases — the price of oil I use has gone up 100% since Covid.’’

She points out $27.76 an hour, over 40 hours a week, equates to $57,740 for a year’s work.

Arndt accepts the government’s wanting Kiwis to take hospo jobs, but says they don’t want to work in Queenstown, partly because it’s costly to live here.

‘‘I’ve been advertising now for six weeks [for staff], I haven’t had one New Zealander apply.’’

She says many other local business owners are also ‘‘really, really concerned’ at how they’ll cope come July.

‘‘The government needs to look at an exemption for Queenstown, Wānaka.’’

scoop@scene.co.nz