The Master Painters Association is predicting delays to Earthquake Commission repair work in Canterbury following a 20% cut in the amount painters will be paid.
Fletchers EQR is contracted by the Earthquake Commission to carry out earthquake repair work.
The company has cut the rate painters are paid from $25 to $19 per square metre.
Canterbury Master Painters Association spokesperson Gary Spence says his members have already hired workers on the higher rate and now face having to absorb the shortfall.
He is predicting many will instead decide to give up doing work for Fletchers EQR, which will mean longer waits for those needing repairs.
People are starting to drift away from Fletcher work already, he says.
Mr Spence says painters will choose to work on commercial projects and on repairs being organised by private insurers, where he says more realistic rates are being paid.
He says the lower rates could also see painters without proper qualifications attempting to get work with Fletchers EQR.
But Fletchers EQR says there will not be an exodus, as they are paying a fair market rate.
A company spokesperson says the rate was changed to keep it at market levels and the quality of painting work will not drop.