Privacy concerns prompted silence

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 13/06/2014
Wayne Edwards
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ
OPENS UP: IPC president Wayne Edwards

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The head of Palmerston North's International Pacific College has broken his silence about staff redundancies at the private tertiary institution.

The college confirmed in December it was undergoing an organisational restructure in a bid to turn around an operational deficit, but management have been reluctant to provide details on the process since then.

Sources connected to the college contacted the Manawatu Standard, concerned about how the shakeup was handled, and that staff had been forced out of jobs, or had resigned due to uncertainties over IPC's future.

There was speculation 12 people had lost their jobs and sources, who only spoke on the condition of anonymity, raised concerns over short-term contracts, cultural difficulties in dealing with conflict, poor management and maintenance issues.

Yesterday IPC president Wayne Edwards said there were privacy concerns, which meant the college had been reluctant to front over claims, fearing it would identify people involved who were pursuing other opportunities.

"Any attempt at reshaping or restructuring any part of the place brings feelings of anxiety to people likely to be affected in almost any way," he said. "In a small institution, we believed the issue of confidentiality was important."

The changes were "now essentially in place" and Edwards confirmed a number of IPC's administrative roles had been reshaped.

About six positions were altered, two roles cut, with those responsibilities shared by others or taken out of the administrative mix. A small number of staff had followed other opportunities.

"In each case other employment was gained in quite a seamless way," he said. "We strove to do our very best to function as a good employer in ensuring that all contractual conditions were fulfilled."

Edwards confirmed some services had been contracted out, including the care and maintenance of gardens and dining facilities.

"Where this has been done, it was because it made good business sense and enabled the strongest focus to be placed on student learning and care."

But claims staff were on short-term contracts were incorrect, and the college aimed to have people on permanent contracts as much as possible, Edwards said.

"There are almost always two sides to such stories."

A surplus had been achieved due to "careful financial management" and the college's enrolment numbers were climbing, with nearly 150 students welcomed on campus last month and another 50 expected in August.

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"Today's international education market is tough and competitive," Edwards said. "Our intent is to increase enrolments while managing resources sensibly in order to maintain standards of education and care of our students."

- Manawatu Standard

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