Fears job cuts will harm Te Papa's reputation

MATT STEWART AND ELLE HUNT
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

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Job cuts at Te Papa could affect the national museum's international reputation, the union representing threatened workers says.

Staff were briefed on staff restructuring yesterday afternoon.

Service and Food Workers Union Te Papa spokesman James Sleep said the museum was not being upfront with members about the restructure after management refused to give specific details about the number of positions being disestablished.

"We tried to sit down with Te Papa on Thursday to try and understand how many jobs are actually going to be cut, and they refused to give us an answer - so we've got some serious questions about the process."

He said the lack of transparency showed a "lack of empathy" for affected staff, who were concerned about their futures.

"Museum management should be upfront with staff and their representatives about how many jobs are going to go."

Mr Sleep understood about 10 jobs would be disestablished, mainly in collections management roles. "We're really concerned that there's going to be quite a few job losses."

Te Papa chief executive Mike Houlihan said it was "too soon to know" how many jobs would be lost as the museum was looking to redeploy affected staff in other positions.

In some cases training would be offered to ensure redundancy remained "the last option".

"The way in which all staff at Te Papa work together will change to a lesser or greater extent," he said.

But Mr Sleep said management knew the number of jobs being established and disestablished. Staff or union representatives wanted a "straight answer".

Te Papa employs about 550 people, though Mr Sleep estimated that fewer than 400 of those were permanent, fulltime positions.

The Service and Food Workers Union represents 182 such employees, 46 of whom had been told their jobs could be disestablished.

"Our members are concerned Te Papa's international standing could be undermined due to lack of resources," he said.

"The management of Te Papa want to cut 10 per cent out of the budget, so it's obviously going to have implications on labour and staff."

Te Papa spokeswoman Tina Norris said management would have meetings with affected staff in the coming weeks and the "redeployment process" should be completed by next month.

The restructure of the museum would be complete by April.

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- The Dominion Post

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