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Covid-19's brutal reality: Nonprofit employing disabled Kiwis forced to make 137 redundancies


What was once a buzzing workroom full of hardworking Kiwis has now been hit by the brutal reality of Covid-19.

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Seven Sharp's Michael Holland went to visit some old friends at a much quieter Altus. Source: Seven Sharp

It’s a story being told all over New Zealand but it’s especially hard for those at Altus Enterprises who employ Kiwis with disabilities.

The company was such a thriving success last year they were looking to expand their numbers to over 200 as they managed to produce over 20,000 headsets for Air New Zealand daily.

But with Air New Zealand’s services ground down to a near halt by the coronavirus pandemic, that has created a domino effect at Altus and 137 people have been made redundant so far.

"Absolutely as tough as it gets, it doesn't get worse than this," Altus CEO Martin Wylie told TVNZ1’s Seven Sharp.

"You have to come here to realise what a community it is and how important this place is in the lives of a great group of people."

Mr Wylie says there’s still 70 people on the payroll but only enough work for 20.

"If we could find new suitable work we would reemploy them all in a heartbeat," he said.

"We don't mind paying out redundancy payments and then having to re-employ them."

While the company waits and hopes for Air New Zealand to make a strong return after the pandemic, in the meantime they’re putting their faith in their online range of eco-cleaning products.

Will&Able cleaning products, such as dishwashing liquid, toilet cleaner, laundry liquid, hand soap and more, are environmentally friendly and the bottles are made from 100 per cent recycled New Zealand milk bottles.

You can order Will&Able products and learn more about them and Altus Enterprises here.