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Hide must investigate release of private info

Hide must investigate release of private information

Auckland City water company Metrowater is alleged to have released private information on its staff without their authorisation to the new super city water company, said Labour's Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“The information was passed on to Watercare, the company organising the new water monopoly being created from a merger of eight council water operations.

“Staff are deeply disturbed by what they say happened and are anxious for their jobs. They have written to me anonymously expressing fear of retribution if they identify themselves publicly.

“I asked an urgent question on the issue in Parliament today. Local Government Minister Rodney Hide denied any knowledge of what the letter claims happened, but was very dismissive of my concerns,” Phil Twyford said.

"Yet this apparent breach of confidentiality by Metrowater is just the latest in what appears to be a pattern by those responsible for creating the new water monopoly. First, we had Watercare executives writing to Auckland councils asking for a dossier on their water staff including age, sex, length of service and whether they were union members.

“Then we had Watercare demanding the councils sign blanket confidentiality agreements about the transition to the new monopoly.

"This is not appropriate behaviour for any company let alone one owned by ratepayers. I'm calling on Rodney Hide to confirm whether this breach took place, and whether it contravenes the Privacy Act. If it does, then he should call Mark Ford, the chair of the Auckland Transition Agency, and tell him this is unacceptable,” Phil Twyford said.

"It raises the bigger question of how the Government intends to make this powerful new water monopoly accountable to basic standards of transparency and good practice. The Royal Commission made extensive recommendations on this, which appear to have been ignored by the Government in the Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Bill now before select committee.

"These incidents have undermined the confidence of council water staff in the transition process. Six and a half thousand council employees are anxious about their jobs. They deserve to be treated with fairness and given some certainty. Labour is calling on the Government to insert provisions on staff transition into the super city bill," said Phil Twyford.

ENDS

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