Social disaster looming in Christchurch - unions

7:10 am on 3 April 2011

Unions say the situation in Christchurch is moving from a natural disaster to a social disaster as the rate of job losses among their members accelerates there.

The latest losses were on Saturday, when the Christchurch Casino offered redundancy or unpaid leave to 500 employees.

The Food & Service Workers Union says hotels, cafes, restaurants and cinemas in the central city remain closed, with thousands of jobs lost as a result of the earthquake on 22 February.

General Secretary John Ryall says the union also represents many cleaners who work in the centre city, who have also lost their jobs.

He says jobs are available in industries such as security, with more people being hired to staff cordons within the central city.

He says prospective security guards need special qualifications and training, and this is where the Government could help out.

Mr Ryall also says the Government could scrap a lower tax rate for businesses, which came into force on 1 April, and spend the money on helping restore the city instead.

And the Unite union says that even though many of the 800 people it represents have been offered work elsewhere, there are still many more people who have lost their jobs, as well as their homes.

Organiser Matt Jones says many of the union's members live in eastern Christchurch where they continue to struggle with dire conditions.