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Unions Reject Call for Christchurch Asset Sell Off

Media Release: New Zealand Council of Trade Unions

6 May 2011

Unions Reject Call for Christchurch Asset Sell Off

Unions representing more than 50,000 Canterbury workers have rejected a call by the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce to sell off Christchurch City assets to help fund the Christchurch rebuild.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) spokesperson on earthquake recovery matters, Marty Braithwaite, described the call by the Chamber of Commerce as short-sighted, saying that the commercial returns from assets such as the Lyttelton Port Company, Orion and the Airport had been instrumental in ensuring that rates for Christchurch residents have remained some of the lowest in the country.

In the year-ended 30 June 2011, the seven companies operated by Christchurch City Holdings Limited (CCHL), the commercial arm of the Christchurch City Council returned a profit of more that $77 million.

Similarly, the call by the Chamber of Commerce to reduce the number of properties owned by the Council indicated employers were prepared for the Council to get rid of its stock of social housing. “This would have a devastating impact on the vulnerable in our communities, many of whom are finding life particularly difficult following the earthquakes,” Mr Braithwaite said. “There are numerous stories already of beneficiaries and low income workers being unable to afford the soaring cost of private rental accommodation and reduced to living in cars or condemned houses.”

Mr Braithwaite said that unions would oppose strongly the sale or partial privatisation of strategic assets if that was contemplated, adding that the assets had been built up by generations of ratepayers and would continue to make an important economic and social contribution to the city.

In its submissions to both the Christchurch Central City Plan and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Draft Recovery Strategy, the NZCTU argued that the revenue generated by CCHL would be more important now than ever.


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