Jobs still uncertain

21:48, Aug 11 2010
JOBS
RELIEVED: Waiheke’s Weaver family is happy to be free of supercity job uncertainty. From left: Nathan, Bronwyn, Olivia, Tim and Brooke the dog.

SOME Waiheke families face an uncertain future as the supercity restructure makes no promises for all jobs to continue.

Over the past three months, staff from the eight current Auckland councils and council-run amenities have received letters informing them whether their current position is secure, in a change process, or has been de-established.

At least 3500 staff are caught in the change process with more than 20 Waiheke families likely to be affected.

Auckland city mayor John Banks has estimated no more than 60 percent of staff will retain their jobs. Under this scenario, about 2700 people in the Auckland region could be jobless by November 1.

Many of the new supercity jobs will be in different locations because Auckland Council departments will be located at premises in Henderson, Manukau and Takapuna as well as central Auckland.

For some Waiheke employees, commuting will no longer be viable, leaving them no choice but to relocate. For those who keep their jobs, current salaries are only being guaranteed for six months.

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The staff who do get jobs in the new Auckland Council might end up with dramatic wage cuts after this period and greater region-wide responsibilities.

For some islanders the uncertainty is too much, with less than three months until the greater Auckland Council formally comes into existence.

IT expert Tim Weaver, a family man who lives on Waiheke, decided to leave the Auckland Regional Council when his job was mapped to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, which is relocating to Henderson.

"I just couldn't commute from Waiheke all the way to Henderson," says Tim, who has secured a new position at Auckland University of Technology.

Most council workers whose jobs relate to essential services will retain their jobs under the supercity restructure.

Whakenewha park ranger Dan Beauchamp's job is secure as are those of the frontline staff at the Waiheke Service Centre in Ostend. However many team leaders, managers and senior managers who live on Waiheke must reapply for their jobs.

Auckland Transition Agency principal adviser Laila Harre says: "Reduced numbers of senior management are inevitable with any merger process."

One Waiheke father who works for Auckland City Council and doesn't want to be named, has been redirected to a job with less responsibility and remuneration.

He says: "This is a result of a top down squeeze effect, where there are less jobs available for management in the new structure."

He is looking elsewhere for work because he feels the lesser position on offer will take him back "at least five years in his career path".

On top of this, 800 fixed term and contract workers have no guarantee of ongoing work.

A Waiheke mum, who also wishes to remain anonymous, is the main breadwinner in her family.

She currently has contracts with three council organisations that finish on October 31.

She says: "I have no guarantee of ongoing work, but I am trying to stay positive as the council has promised not to reduce the level of services offered."

Ms Harre says: "Contract workers will not be looked at until all permanent staff have been given a secure option, however where their work is ongoing they should not expect a change."

Regional council chairman Mike Lee is sympathetic.

"It's an uncertain time for everyone."

Mr Lee's job will also cease to exist on October 31.

He is standing for councillor of the new Auckland Council's Waitemata and Gulf ward which includes Waiheke.

"Of course, nothing is guaranteed in politics either," says Mr Lee.

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