NZ Contractors Keen to Dump "Pacific Peso"

New Zealand IT workers are dumping the "Pacific peso" -- a slang term for the New Zealand dollar -- for the mighty US dollar.

As the beleaguered New Zealand currency reaches fresh lows of around $US0.40, IT recruitment consultants say workers want to earn greenbacks both here and overseas.

"Because (the NZ dollar) is so worthless, people are thinking about renegotiating their contracts in US dollars," says a spokesperson at Auckland recruitment agency Enterprise, Barry O'Brien.

O'Brien says in one case, a New Zealander working in Auckland as a software engineer on contract to a US firm has asked to be paid in US dollars.

"He says he's working for a US company so he will try to negotiate his contract in US dollars. It's a try-on. Who knows whether it becomes a trend or whether employers agree to it," he says.

O'Brien says New Zealand has suffered an exodus of contractors to overseas, fuelled by higher taxes on better-paid workers and a lackluster New Zealand economy.

"There is filthy lucre (to earn) in the US and Europe. People are fleeing for economic reasons," he says.

However, this has left better prospects for those remaining.

"Companies realize they have to pay big bucks to get people on board and there are also quite a few big projects on the go at the moment."

Candle IT & T Recruitment has heard similar reports of people wanting to be paid in US dollars but says it has not been approached by anyone.

"But we would not do that anyway. If the work is done here, you have to be paid in New Zealand dollars," says contracting manager Christine Fitchew.

Candle reports improving times for contracting, with some employers now preferring to recruit contractors because of tighter employment rules under the Employment Relations Act.

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