Resort bigwigs make push on foreign labour

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Queenstown heavyweights are pushing the government to consider the resort a special case for skilled foreign workers.

The Beehive’s bid to slow the numbers of migrants gaining New Zealand residency is expected to crank up pressure on local employers.

Hospitality NZ board member for the region Glen Christiansen says hospo and tourism will feel the pinch, particularly for career chefs.

A 60-hour working week is already common due to staff shortages, he says.

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult says the council and Queenstown Chamber of Commerce are lobbying the government about the changes announced in October.

“We’re engaging with government about that … recognising the special requirements of our town.”

But Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says employers will have to fill the gaps with short-term work visa workers.

“The changes to skilled migrant category do not stop employers in Queenstown, or anywhere else in NZ, from employing temporary migrants to fill skills shortages where there are no Kiwis to do the job,” Woodhouse says.

Christiansen says the stresses for existing staff, Kiwis included, are not highlighted enough.

“How do you feel as an executive chef where you have to give 60 hours to look after your guests and meet the expectations of service?

“We’re asking them to give up family time.”

Woodhouse says the changes do not target any one industry.

More than a dozen such professional chefs roles, ranging from executive chef through to chef de partie, are currently advertised in Queenstown.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz