DOWNTURN: Covid-19 has impacted Waiotahi Contractors, which is laying off 44 staff, many of whom are in Whakatane. Photo supplied

ANOTHER major Eastern Bay employer is being forced to lay off staff because of the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.

Civil engineering firm Waiotahi Contractors is making 44 permanent roles redundant – 20 percent of its workforce – a number of which are in Whakatane.

Managing director Henry Claydon said they had just completed a restructure process with the company’s team, which had resulted in a loss of roles.

“Like many businesses across New Zealand, Waiotahi Contractors has been impacted by the effects of Covid-19,” he said.

Mr Claydon said Waiotahi was able to access the Government’s initial wage subsidy.

More than $1.2 million wage subsidy was given to Waiotahi for 172 employees, according to Work and Income.

“Unfortunately, [Waiotahi] does not meet eligibility requirements for further Government support.”

Mr Claydon said the company worked across the wider Bay of Plenty region and although some areas and projects were extremely busy, others were not.

“We are aware that there are capital projects in the pipeline, however, the lag between these projects being confirmed, and work being able to commence, is unknown.

“As a family-owned business, we’ve been in the Bay of Plenty for more than 60 years and we want to continue that legacy for generations to come.

“This means we’ve had to make some tough decisions now about reducing costs in order to ensure we are sustainable into the future.”

He said the company was urgently recruiting in Tauranga and these roles had also been made available to those impacted by this restructure.

“Unfortunately, these positions require relocation, which is not always possible for those who are committed to their current location.

“We are aware that some of those impacted in Whakatane have already secured new jobs, which is great news.

Mr Claydon said as a family-owned business its employees were like whanau.

“This isn’t a position we want to be in, and we know it has an impact on everyone in our team.

“Our priority focus is on continuing to support our people and working closely with councils and wider agencies to be in a position to secure new projects as they come online.”

Surtees and Extreme Boats have also laid off a third of their workforces in recent months because of the downturn in the economy.

kathy.forsyth@thebeacon.co.nz