Union official predicts 30 job losses at Te Papa

MICHAEL FORBES AND ELLE HUNT
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2012

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At least 30 jobs will be axed at Te Papa before Christmas, the Service and Food Workers' Union says.

The National Museum updated staff on the process a fortnight ago, but since then has been unwilling to specify how many jobs would go, union spokesman James Sleep said.

He understood about 115 positions were affected, but many would retain employment in other areas at Te Papa.

The union was told to work the numbers out itself, which it did based on the information the museum supplied about the areas it was redefining.

"We're confident that it is about 30 jobs, if not more, that will be lost," Mr Sleep said.

"[Te Papa] has still got a number of curator jobs that they have deferred for disestablishment towards the beginning of next year, which could potentially add some more numbers there."

But Te Papa chief executive Mike Houlihan said he could not predict the number of redundancies at this stage. "There will be some staff who, as a result of this exercise, won't have a position among the new jobs . . . [but] I couldn't give you an answer until we've been through the redeployment process."

He said the museum was doing its best to keep redundancies to a minimum, and that staff had been "engaged fully" in the restructure, which began in June.

He said the process was about keeping pace with museums overseas, and increasing research and exhibition output - not cutting staffing costs.

"Inevitably, this comes down to how we organise ourselves.

"We've taken a look at every single person within the organisation . . . there were inevitably going to be quite significant changes to certain roles."

A "redeployment pool" of about 54 affected staff had been invited to apply for up to three positions each out of a list of 48 redefined or new roles. Those jobs that could not be filled from the pool would be advertised externally, he said.

Mr Sleep said affected staff had been given only 10 days to fully understand the new structure and positions, and put together an application.

He said staff had been "[left] in the dark" and needed certainty about their future, particularly given the added financial pressure on most households at Christmas.

Mr Houlihan said the redeployment process would be completed in a fortnight, but the restructure would take until April next year.

"We're not off-loading staff before Christmas."

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