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Marlborough District Council dumps foresight along with jobs

Proposed restructuring plans at Marlborough District Council are short-sighted and will cost more in the long-term says the New Zealand Public Service Association (NZPSA).

Marlborough District Council is proposing job cuts because an economic downturn has meant fewer applications for resource and building consent.

“This poorly conceived plan puts 15 jobs in jeopardy and risks the loss of skills and experience that will be very hard to recoup,” says NZPSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“It’s illogical to cut jobs because of a temporary downturn in building and development. On the contrary, the council should be boosting its regulatory duties at a time when increased financial pressures could encourage private sector operators to cut corners. We already know of projects that will require significant monitoring like the National Water Standards and the Trust Power Wairau river hydro-electric project.

“We would like the Council’s management to explain how these proposals meet its long-term growth forecast and strategy for the region,” says Brenda Pilott.

“As far as we’re aware the Council hasn’t changed its long-term growth projections so this quiet period is a great opportunity to consolidate past efforts and prepare the ground for a more efficient delivery of services in the future.

“Making a direct comparison between the local economy and the public service duties of the Council is no basis on which to cut jobs. Putting this temporary downturn aside, Marlborough has experienced significant growth in recent years. That development has had the professional support of council staff, many of whom have given over and above the call of duty by way of hundreds of hours in unpaid overtime.

“This loyal service makes the present proposals even more of a bitter pill to swallow,” says Brenda Pilott.

“On top of this, senior management are now asserting that the restructuring proposals are due to the modest market salary increases that occurred in the last wage round.

“It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect staff to absorb cost-of-living increases as well as ignore salary rises in the wider local government sector.

“Even the way staff were informed of the proposals gives us cause for concern. Staff members learnt that their own position didn’t feature in the restructuring plan in general departmental announcements.

“It’s interesting to note that management positions are largely unscathed by the proposals.

“If the proposals go ahead and jobs are cut the outcome will be inefficiencies in service deliveries when the local economy turns around and new staff need to be hired but can’t be found.

“That’s not going to do ratepayers or the wider community of Marlborough any good whatsoever,” says Brenda Pilott.

ENDS

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