25 Mar 2020

South Auckland steel fabricator set to lose millions in Covid-19 lockdown

6:54 pm on 25 March 2020

A major steel fabricator has had its hopes dashed of a big prison project carrying on as an essential service.

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Photo: 123RF

Instead, 140 workers at Grayson Engineering in Manukau have been shutting off their machines ahead of the midnight Covid-19 lockdown.

Managing director David Moore said the business stood to lose $3-4 million a month.

The Waikeria prison construction project had held out some hope of keeping perhaps 25 people on the job at Grayson, which is supplying 2000 tonnes of steel to the build.

"There some hint it would be going ahead as an essential project, but that was all come undone late last night," he said.

It appeared that not a single steel fabricator was working through as an essential service, he said.

Moore, who is also vice-chair of Steel Construction New Zealand, said he had applied for the government wage subsidy for employees.

The halt put the brakes on about 20 projects.

Moore and other steel fabricators told RNZ that steel supply from China and other mills overseas had not been disrupted much by the pandemic to date.

The lockdown, however, would hit hard, he said.

"Once we are back up and running at anything near full capacity, it is gonna take quite a while to get back to where we started because of the revenue we've lost along the way."

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