In the grips of a staffing crisis, the hospitality industry is making its feelings heard with its petition calling for a reset on the Government’s proposed immigration policy, gathering more than 3500 signatures in under a week.
The campaign, nicknamed The Reset, is a two-month-long collective action to remind the Government of the impact hospitality has in New Zealand with three key asks of Government:
- Provide an urgent additional visa extension for employer-assisted work visa holders currently in New Zealand to allow employers to retain their existing migrant workforce.
- Allow border exceptions for other critical workers from other industries such as hospitality where there is a proven need and extend the number of working hours permitted for those on student visas.
With the situation critical across all parts of the industry, the Restaurant Association, Hospitality NZ and Baking NZ have also now joined the campaign, calling for policymakers to work with the sector to ensure any immigration setting changes are practicable and provide workable solutions.
“The situation is beyond critical and is seriously impacting our businesses from keeping their doors open,” said Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois. “In working together with other industries facing the same issue, we hope to gain collective power in addressing this critical situation.”
Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Julie White says difficulties finding staff are severely hampering the industry’s recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, and last week’s announcement by the Government to extend the working holiday visas will not solve the problem.
"Skills shortages are the industry’s major stressor right now, and we’re finding ourselves at what can only be described as a crisis level. Businesses need their existing essential workers to stay. We need something now that’s going to give businesses the skills they need to operate now, and migrants are the answer, but we’ve been hard-pressed to convince the Government of this.”
Both Hospitality New Zealand and the Restaurant Association are working hard on creating long term solutions via specialised industry-led training programmes, but these will take time to have an impact. With 20,000 workers needed over the next five years, the sector desperately needs Government engagement in order to find workable solutions that keep businesses operational.
The industry is planning a two-minute coordinated ‘lights out’ on Tuesday 6th July to bring attention to the issue.
More information is available on the website at restaurantnz.co.nz/hospo-reset
The petition is live on the parliament petitions website parliament.nz/petition-of-the-restaurant-association-of-new-zealand