Enable job loss talks continue

LISA KNIGHT
Last updated 08:47 23/08/2014

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Negotiations over possible job losses at a Palmerston North-based disability service are progressing after the loss of a key contract from the ACC.

Disability equipment management for ACC is currently provided by Accessable in the Auckland and Northland areas, and in the rest of the country by Enable New Zealand, which is based in Palmerston North.

ACC recently reviewed the equipment management process and held a tender process, awarding the tender to Accessable, which is set to take over from November 1.

Public Service Association union organiser John Shennan said negotiations on exact job losses had progressed.

"We've met with management and worked with them to the point now where there is likely to be 14 fulltime equivalent positions lost in Palmerston North."

Shennan said 11 of the jobs would be from clerical-type positions and the other three from within the stores area.

A standard redundancy package would be offered.

Employees and the union had two weeks to critique the proposal before the structure of Enable and the jobs affected would be finalised, he said.

"There's a lot of anger, even though they understand it's not driven by [MidCentral] DHB or Enable," Shennan said.

"The reality is it's just setting in for them. In the meetings there's been a lot of reaction from staff, they're feeling quite disoriented. Also it's a difficult period of negotiations, so naturally they're really anxious. They want the decision and they want it now."

As the ACC contract was only some of the work Enable does, the whole organisation needed to be assessed, he said. "There is potential after this restructure there will then be a review of middle management and could be additional job losses. But this is not proposed to take place until next year."

Shennan said staff felt the management job losses should be addressed now as well. "They have the feeling that pain should be shared equally. They're all in this together so they should be treated the same."

The union and Enable staff remained hopeful that ACC would reconsider its decision, he said.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville told the Manawatu Standard at the time of the announcement two weeks ago that ACC reviewed the way it provided equipment and after a tender process had chosen Accessable to provide the service nationally. "Ultimately, this is about ACC best serving clients' needs, and making best use of levy-payers' money."

Enable general manager Scott Ambridge was unavailable to comment yesterday but told the Standard two weeks ago that staff were feeling "raw" about the decision.

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"Whilst very disappointed with the ACC decision, Enable New Zealand remains committed to the rehabilitation, health and disability sector."

- Manawatu Standard

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