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Calls for national register amid fears up to a third of tradework during lockdown isn't essential

Leaders in the plumbing industry are calling for a national register to be established to log all work that's undertaken by tradespeople during the lockdown. 

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An estimated 30 per cent of work currently going on is classified as non-essential. Source: 1 NEWS

They estimate up to 30 per cent of work currently going on is non-essential and is risking the safety of everyone. 

Andrew Durrans is one of the plumbers in demand during the lockdown, but he says the jobs he's being asked to do are far from pressing. 

"It makes me quite angry," he told 1 NEWS.

"We've had people hang up the phone when we've explained that we wouldn't be able to come out because we don't deem it's essential. 

"And you know very well they're just going to ring another plumber to get them to do the job for them."

And it seems tales of non-urgent requests are everywhere. 

"We're having things like leaking taps. toilet running down the inside of the bowl," Master Plumbers' Greg Wallace says.

"We've had one who requested a dishwasher to be essential. Our worker said it was non-essential, an hour later she got a text saying they found another plumber to install it. 

"Those things are frustrating and they're also not legal." 

Under the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 directives, only essential work required for health and safety reasons can be done. 

"We estimate up to 30 per cent of the work being completed is non-essential," Mr Wallace says.

1 NEWS also understands some merchants are selling their stock to anyone, not just licensed tradies. 

Hutt Gas and Plumbing's Colleen Upton says it's concerning.

"We had a customer manage to get a part for a gas heater from a merchant. Not only were they buying something that should've been sold to a gas fitter, but when you're selling things to members of the public who are definitely not essential service, that's concerning." 

Master Builders says a register should be set up to log all jobs that are carried out during the lockdown. 

They say this would stamp out non-essential work. and make it less likely suppliers might sell to DIYers. 

"We think then it can be audited. A simple step of recording who's doing the job, what the nature of the job is," Mr Wallace says.

The Government knows of cases where rules have been ignored. 

"We clamped down on them quickly, but let us know if it's still occurring," Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. 

Plumbers doing it by the book are hoping more enforcement is in the pipeline.