The owner of a cleaning business is wondering if unemployed Kiwis are "allergic to work" after failing to find any who can last longer than a few days working for him.

Simon Potter wants reliable employees for his cleaning business, but is getting tired of the excuses from people who are bailing out after a day or two on the job.

Mr Potter, from Newcastle in Britain, says the jobs his Silver Ferns cleaning company undertakes - carpet cleaning, commercial and residential and end-of-tenancy cleans - might not be everyone's cup of tea.

But he's offering $36,000 a year for one of his fulltime positions or up to $20 an hour, which is nearly 50 per cent higher than the minimum wage, which he said most cleaners were paid.


He says it's disgraceful that he cannot fill his two jobs from the ranks of the more than 50,000 working-age people receiving unemploymentbenefits.

His problem is that people who start working for him are "chucking it in" almost as soon as they have picked up a broom or vacuum cleaner.

"There are people out of jobs out there but we cannot find any cleaners, we really can't. Maybe people think it's below them but it's driving me mad.

"Carpet cleaning is not rocket science or mentally tasking but it is demanding, the machine is a little bit heavy.

"It's just manual work - we put people through training but that costs us money and these people aren't staying on the job."

Mr Potter has advertised the jobs in Auckland on Trade Me and Seek and has accepted CVs of applicants through Work and Income New Zealand.

But even after receiving more than 50 CVs and trying several applicants to whom he provided training, he's had no luck in finding anyone who can stay on the job.

The excuses normally come after a couple of days.

"One guy was doing carpet cleaning for us and said his grandfather was ill on Monday morning and we haven't seen him since," he said.

Figures from the Ministry of Social Development showed that 323,000 people were receiving main benefits for the year ending March 31 - a 3 per cent decrease on the year before.

The figures also showed that 53,000 working-age people aged between 18 and 64 years were receiving an unemployment benefit.

Of those, 41 per cent were "mature job seekers" in the 40 to 64 years age bracket.

The number of dole recipients has decreased by 6000 or 11 per cent on the year before but people are not knocking on Mr Potter's door.

He says people lack vision, turning their noses up at a company which began last November and already has two franchises.

"At some point in the future we will need cleaners who have done the work and are prepared to train the franchisees. There will be positions for sales managers and so on."

The national secretary of the Service and Food Workers Union, John Ryall, said his organisation represented thousands of hardworking cleaners who would love to earn up to $20 an hour.

In centres such as Auckland and Wellington the majority of cleaners were migrants, but in other areas the workforce was a mixture of migrant and New Zealand-born workers.

Cleaning was mostly done late at night and the competitiveness of the industry meant companies expected workers to do "a hell of a lot in the time allocated, day in, day out".

"So while a person new to the cleaning industry will put up with that for a couple of weeks, after that period of time they're utterly exhausted."

But experienced cleaners did the work to a high standard for $13.50 an hour - and the few companies that paid $15 an hour had high demand for their positions, he said.

David Lowe, the Employers and Manufacturers Association's employment services manager, said members had reported increasing difficulty in finding good workers - but only for higher skilled jobs.


-Two fulltime positions available.
-Pays up to $20 an hour.
-About 50 CVs received.
-Serious interest from only one suitable person born in New Zealand.
-53,000 Kiwis of working age on an unemployment benefit.

-additional reporting Nicholas Jones