Te Papa staff fear jobs may be axed

About 16 senior Te Papa jobs are at risk under a proposed restructuring of museum management.

A Te Papa spokeswoman confirmed last night that consultation with senior staff and managers had begun over "proposed changes". She refused to say exactly how many jobs were on the line and stressed that no final decisions had been made.

"Te Papa has signalled in June 2011 that we were developing a new vision and long- term strategy. This is a natural process for all organisations when they undergo this type of change."

Service and Food Workers' Union spokesman James Sleep said the union, which represents about 180 staff at Te Papa, was in consultation about "significant changes to the organisational structure".

About 16 management-level jobs were at risk, but more jobs could go under the museum's "cost-cutting" moves. The union was working with senior management to ensure the process was as smooth as possible, he said.

A Te Papa staff member said museum staff were called to a meeting yesterday, where chief executive Michael Houlihan talked about a "restructure". They were not told how many people it would affect, but that Mr Houlihan wanted "experts" in every area of senior management, including curators and directors.

There were "some senior management who seemed visibly upset" - people who had held their jobs for up to 25 years. She believed that up to 30 staff had been given the option to take redundancy or reapply for their jobs.

Lack of funding was mentioned during yesterday's announcement, which had sparked concern among other staff.

A highly placed museum source said last night that he understood some job losses were possible. But staff should be concerned only if they were "not pulling their weight".

Last month, Wellington City Council back-tracked on plans to slash Te Papa's annual grant from $2.25 million to $1m. A public backlash led to council officers changing that to $2m, then later retaining the funding at the original $2.25m.

Te Papa receives $32.5m in government funding each year. A 2011 briefing to incoming Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson put the museum's workforce costs at about $25m a year, about half of its operating expenditure.

Related stories:

Te Papa funding backtrack

Wellington eco-city plan dumped

Te Papa funding cut proposal

Te Papa cuts 'a backward step'

Te Papa funding under scruitiny


Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Consumer affairs, and Attractions and Events reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
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