- Prime Minister Arder will unveil a strategy to reopen on Thursday
- Labor shortages hurt businesses, trigger inflation
- Nurses, midwives call for better pay and conditions
Wellington, August 9 (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jassinda Arder is set to reopen the country’s borders this week amid pressure from businesses and the public sector, which policymakers fear could worsen inflation.
Arder thanked the world for capturing COVID-19 through a curtain strategy, installing strong locks, and closing New Zealand’s international border, which was closed in March 2020.
However, that method now leads to high costs and low results in an economy that relies heavily on the labor force.
He called on the government to lift the blockade of dairy products, horticulture, housing, services, health and the wider public sector.
The pressure was felt on Monday as more than 1,500 midwives were fired, citing overwork due to severe shortages. More than 30,000 nurses are on strike for the second time since June in search of better pay and working conditions amid staff shortages.
“We rely on internationally qualified nurses to meet the needs of our staff, but we do not see the borders closed,” said Glenda Alexander, manager of industry services at New Zealand Nurses.
“Kiwis do not come to nursing because of work pressures and low pay,” he added. Nurses are constantly burning, worrying that they themselves are sick and making mistakes that could affect their patients.
The hospitality sector is similarly developed. As part of a two-month campaign, nearly 2,000 restaurants have shut down and power outages.
Arderin said on Thursday that she would be cautious when she announced her government’s six-month plan for public health and border control.
“Any changes to the boundaries of the border will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis,” he said. We have come a long way in this next step and we have gained a lot of freedom.
Last week, Arder opened a one-way neutral trip from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, all seasonal workers without seasonal COVID issues, to seasonal workers to alleviate labor shortages. Read more
New Zealand recorded 2,600 COVID-19 cases, one of the lowest in the world, helping Arder to stay in power last October. The final distribution was reported in February.
The roadmap will be based on the findings of experts, including epidemiologists, entitled “Connecting New Zealand to the World.”
Still, businesses are pushing for the plan to be re-introduced soon.
The country’s unemployment rate is at the pre-Kovid level, with more jobs than trained workers. The lower the usage, the more people are working less than they want to be.
Labor costs are rising as employers pay more to retain workers. Annual inflation reached 3.3% in the second quarter, far above the central bank’s forecasts.
Economists think the pressures will force New Zealand Reserve Bank (RBNA) to tighten monetary policy next week to keep its economy afloat.
“Probably successful in creating demand,” said ANZ chief economist Sharon Zolner.
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Of particular concern to Arderne and policy makers is the delta coronavirus, which is spreading in neighboring Australia and around the world.
The Delta oil epidemic across Australia has banned Arder, a “travel bubble” that has allowed free travel between the two countries.
Experts warn that Delta’s arrival in New Zealand will result in a longer lockout, especially as 21% of the country has been fully vaccinated.
“It (Delta) is more dangerous than other types of COVID,” Arder said. It changes our risk calculation as it changes each risk calculation.
Report by Preven Menon; Edited by Jane Warddale
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