Nine-day subsidy likely to be only for unionised - Key

A nine-day working fortnight subsidy is likely to only be available to large unionised workplaces in its initial stages, Prime Minister John Key said today.

The Government has indicated that it is considering a partial subsidy of employees' wages where some workplaces move to a nine-day working week to avoid redundancies.

On the 10th day workers would possibly get a wage subsidy and the Government could also subsidise training.

"We haven't ruled out that there could be some sort of allowance for workers who would otherwise have reduced income," Mr Key said.

Mr Key said he would not discuss details ahead of an announcement later this week.

The alternative to working fewer hours was workers losing their jobs. Mr Key said it would not be the Government driving the decision that some workplaces go to a nine-day fortnight, but the workforce.

"What is fair to say, at least initially, this is something that is only likely to be attractive to larger workplaces and probably ... initially more unionised workplaces because of the scale.

The ballpark figure was that 20,000 jobs could be saved.

The nine-day fortnight was one of the headline suggestions to come from last month's jobs summit, when the Government, unions and business leaders got together in Auckland to look for ways to help the country get through the recession.

Mr Key told reporters the Cabinet had "extensive discussions" yesterday about the nine-day fortnight.

"We'll be able to give more details of the Government's response later this week," he said.

"It's possible the Crown will consider some allowance for workers."

Finance Minister Bill English has previously said the Government's books were in bad shape and there was limited money available for the scheme, or any other.

Cabinet decided yesterday on which ministers will handle the numerous proposals that came out of the job summit and has issued a list detailing their responsibilities.

- NZPA

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