Unions keeping a close eye on Government's economic support package

Advocates for workers and beneficiaries are pleased with the Government's new economic support package but warn they will be watching where the money goes to make sure it gets to those who most need it. 

On Tuesday Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the $12 billion boost to combat the economic hit from COVID-19 coronavirus. Of this, everyday workers will get $5.1 billion to support them through the pandemic.

Dennis Maga from First Union praised the Government's response because it looks after people, not just businesses.

"So far this is the best response that I have seen from a Government regarding this coronavirus outbreak," he says. 

Darryl Evans from Mangere Budgeting Service agreed. "I'm actually really impressed, to be honest."

The worst-affected companies will receive wage subsidies for their workers so those employed full-time will receive $585 per employee per week for three months.

But employers will only be able to access this is they can prove they've had a 30 percent drop in business on this time last year.

Most at risk are the 210,000 migrant workers in New Zealand who could lose their jobs.

Maga says: "These migrant workers actually need to hear some certainty because otherwise, do they continue to work in NZ or do they go back to their country of origin?" 

For our most vulnerable that's not an option. The Government is expecting unemployment to grow but say beneficiaries will be looked after.

"Benefits will go up $25 a week, that's been needed for a very very long time. I'm absolutely a supporter of that," Evans says.

He believes it will help them buy another three or four meals a week. 

"A lot of beneficiaries have been doing it tough, and we have known that for a long time there hasn't been enough money to put adequate food on the table."

Joe Carolan from Unite Union says they will be keeping a close eye on exactly where the money goes.

"The experience in 2008 with the last crisis [is] that banks and big companies got bailed out but workers got burned at the bottom. This time we want to make sure that all the money that's supposed to go to workers and their families ends up there."