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"It feels like we've been living through this for ever," says Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief Peter Townsend.
While about 80 per cent of Christchurch businesses are now up and running, many employees are still too traumatised by the quake and its aftershocks to resume work, he says.
A business owner approached him yesterday desperate for advice because his staff remained too mentally shaken by the continuing tremors to return to their jobs.
"He's got a business that has not been impacted at all by the earthquake - he's got a green sticker on his building - but his staff are so traumatised they can't come into work," Townsend said.
"I suspect we're going to get a bit of that through to the end of this week and then on Monday people will have come to terms with what's going on."
Christchurch manufacturer Skellerup Holdings finally had a limited number of its production lines in operation yesterday.
Skellerup's buildings and inventory received minimal damage in the quake, but acting chief executive David Mair said the company's staff bore psychological scars.
"With some of those aftershocks the effect is bigger than the original earthquake so psychologically it's like torture," Mair said. "People can't get a full night's sleep so they can't get into that deep sleep. I'm expecting quite a bit of emotion to come out as things return to normal."
On top of that distress, some Skellerup staff had their homes destroyed in the quake and the unrelenting tremors continued to place their properties in danger.
Mair said another worry for Christchurch workers was whether their jobs were secure.
Skellerup, as well as continuing payments to all of its almost 200 fulltime employees, was also paying its temporary staff left out of work by the quake, he said.
"We don't have to do that, but there were temps that were working as a normal part of our business ... one of the really pleasing things is that [several] temping agencies have agreed that - because we are paying - they'll add no margins."
Mair said it was just as well Skellerup was swiftly heading back towards full production because the firm - best known for its gumboots - supplied vital products used in the dairy industry. "By Monday next week we expect all parts of Skellerup to be back to normal."
Manufacturers and Exporters Association chief executive John Walley said some businesses were struggling to get back to normal staffing - mainly because of transport and child-care issues.