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Jill Sanders said employees from her business A Woman’s Touch should be classed as ‘‘first responders’’, considering the risks they take and essential service they provide cleaning medical centres and other buildings of essential services.
‘‘We’re keeping the doctors and nurses safe, so how can you say that we’re not first responders?’’
The company has even cleaned homes that housed suspected cases of Covid-19, she said.
‘‘Our girls have been putting themselves in the line of fire ... you hear about doctors and nurses dying but you don’t hear about cleaners dying.’’
A Woman’s Touch employs about 65 cleaners and has teams in Queenstown, Christchurch and Cromwell, most of whom are migrants on working visas and will need to leave the country later in the year.
‘‘I’m desperate to keep people who are working with us because they’ve literally put their lives on the line,’’ Mrs Sanders said.
Keeping the business afloat has been a battle during lockdown. Mrs Sanders and husband Charlie have even injected their own retirement savings into the company to keep it alive.
‘‘It makes me sick to think people are trying to survive on the subsidy.’’
She now hopes to see more lenience from the Government concerning migrant visas, given how much her company depended on them.
‘‘We haven’t been able to get Kiwis to work for us ’cause Kiwis have looked at us as not being a profession, even though we’re actually training people.
‘‘There are so many people on visas who are doing these so called menial ‘low-skilled’ tasks, but they’re not. Cleaning takes a lot of skill and training.’’