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System-wide response needed on closure of public buildings

PSA Media Release
2 Dec, 2011

System-wide response needed on closure of public buildings

With hundreds of public buildings at risk of being temporarily shut down due to earthquake risk it is clear that a system-wide response is urgently needed, says the PSA.

Hundreds of government buildings are being structurally reviewed in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Engineering reports on seismic weakness have seen six courthouses and an IRD processing centre suddenly close this week.

IRD said earlier today that it is temporarily closing its Upper Hutt operations delivery site while earthquake strengthening work is carried out and that it expects the site to be closed for a month.

“We commend both IRD and the Justice Ministry for taking such swift action and putting safety first,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.
“More building closures are likely to follow those we’ve seen this week and that brings potential for widespread disruption to both workers and services, so it’s imperative that a system-wide response is put in place.

“The co-ordinated leadership we saw from government following the February 22nd Canterbury earthquake is also required now.

“The Ministry of Social Development has formal responsibility for public buildings and we understand it has been charged with coming up with a plan to co-ordinate closures and this is a good first move.

“There may be departments that can take up work or that have building space available for use by evacuated staff from other agencies.

“These closures cannot be used as a backdoor way to make cuts. Jobs need to be guaranteed and staff must be reassured that they will not be financially disadvantaged.

“Comments in today’s media from Justice Ministry spokesman Steve Corbett that he could not rule out redundancies are alarming.

“This is a different message from the indications we were given on Wednesday from the Justice Ministry that jobs would not be affected by the court closures.
“It is important that the Ministry clarifies the situation and we will certainly be seeking assurances on this from the Ministry,” says Richard Wagstaff.

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