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Memo to Rotorua Lakes Council re: outsourcing plans

Memo. The Aquatic Centre Management Model
From: The Aquatic Staff Working Group (Te Ropu Whakahaere)
To: RDLC Council Members and O&M Committee Members
Date: 07 March 2018

Purpose
This memo sets out several of the big picture issues and relevant questions. Three critical questions are provided for Council governance to consider.

The Three Critical Questions for Council Governance:

1. Does the motion “That Council to go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development opportunities for the Aquatic Centre” mean pre-RFP and the decision to outsource the management and the staff?

2. Should Council consider the Staff Proposal from a co-design perspective and not apply the existing RFP criteria at least until after the co-design process between Council and Community is complete?

3. Shouldn’t Council Management work with the Aquatic Staff Working Group instead of the Union only?

Background

On Wednesday 28 February at a full Council meeting the following motion was ratified: “That Council to go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development opportunities for the Aquatic Centre”

We are now determining the process to implement this motion.

On Friday 02 March Council Management sent a letter instructing the Union delegate of the Aquatic Staff Working Group (The Working Group) that they were re-convening the Consultation Committee to be held on 05 March and presented a Draft ToR for discussion. Council Management did not communicate to the Union delegate that the ToR had also been sent to Councilors for their feedback, which was a critical piece of information that should have been shared and would have resulted in a different response.

The essence of the letter and the ToR was that the RFP process supporting outsourcing the management (and staff) of the Aquatic Centre would remain albeit with an ‘independent panel’ that would provide recommendations about who could best deliver.

On Sunday 04 March the Union delegate of the Working Group responded to the instruction with a suggested different agenda and a wananga approach to answer the following questions, not knowing that the ToR has also been sent to Councilors for their feedback:

1. What does the motion “That Council to go back to the drawing board and properly consider all management options including the staff proposal and development opportunities for the Aquatic Centre” mean for us? 2. What is a good process for us to follow?

On Monday 05 March the Council Management responded by instructing the Union delegate of the Working Group that the Consultation Committee meeting would continue as per original instructions issue. However, the approach suggested by the Working Group can be included as an agenda item for discussion.

Later that day the Union delegate on the Working Group sent an email on behalf of the Working Group criticizing the Council’s attempts to convene the Consultation Committee as being too early in the process, geared up to derive the same answer, not addressing the fundamental issue of strategic direction, not being ‘a back to the drawing board’ approach, and failing to properly consider the staff proposal.

Big Picture Issues and Some Questions

1. The Council Management seem intent upon framing this as an Industrial issue between them and the Union. Obviously, given the Working Group approach, the amount of community support, and the extraordinary history to the situation it is more than an industrial issue, it is political, it is strategic, and it is about community. Engaging with the Working Group is reflective of the broader situation and a wananga approach to answering the two questions is a rigorous and value based approach to finding common ground, not to mention bi-cultural.

2. The Aquatic Staff who decided to take the difficult road of resisting the attempts of the Council Management to outsource them into a private company are the people we need to be concerned about. At this point they remain resolute regarding their preferred employer and 29 of 31 of the employees have all indicated they will choose redundancy if the pools are outsourced. This represents a real cost of well over $250,000.

3. The agenda of outsourcing frontline employees continues as we speak. The meter people have just been outsourced. Is this corporate model with its multiple layers of management and outsourcing of frontline workers what people really want?

4. Lobbying vs Information Sharing. Throughout the RFP process and ERA process and the Committee and Council Meetings, Council Management has sought to control the information that is presented to Councilors. The efforts of the working group to put information in front of councilors is being called lobbying, a term that discredits the efforts of the Working Group and the information that is provided.

5. The Staff Proposal is premised on co-design. The detail of the approach is something that Council (Council Reps, Council Management, and Aquatic Staff) and the Community workout together. Until there is input from the Council it will not fit well the existing RFP, which is geared up for outsourcing. To consider the Staff Proposal properly means looking at from a co-design in-house perspective. However, the existing RFP is designed for outsourcing.

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