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More uncertainty ahead for change-weary Council staff

31 October 2012

More uncertainty ahead for change-weary Council staff

The Public Service Association says a new local government structure for the Wellington region could make a nonsense out of current Council restructuring and pour hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain.

Debate is continuing on the future of the region following the release of a proposal advocating a two-tiered structure with a lord mayor, a strengthened regional council and six smaller councils providing local services.

The PSA which is the largest union representing council staff, welcomes debate on the issue but says any reorganisation must safeguard jobs, improve the delivery of services and enhance community engagement.

It says many councils are already undergoing significant change management, restructuring and moves to shared services.

“There is already a sense of change fatigue out there and the thought of more coming on the top of that will be causing a lot of anxiety and job uncertainty for local government workers,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

The Wellington City Council is currently undergoing a top-to-bottom restructure and service review at all levels which has seen job losses, and cuts to staff hours in areas such as the library, IT and finance. There are expected to be more redundancies and changes to pay and conditions as other parts of the Council are reviewed.

“This has been a significant restructuring process which has taken its toll on staff and it could all be undone by whatever local government model is adopted for the region. That potentially represents a lot of wasted time, stress and money,” Brenda Pilott says.

The PSA also believes the Local Government Amendment Bill which is currently before parliament will only add to the uncertainty for local government workers. It gives central government substantial power to intervene in and direct council business and will extend the government’s public service staffing cap ideology into local government.

“That will only put more pressure on already overloaded staff and provide scope for central government to promote more contracting out and private provision of council services and infrastructure,” says Brenda Pilott.

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