Power firms merger would mean job cuts

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2013
Jason Franklin
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin.

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An amalgamation of PowerNet, Power Services and Peak Power Services has been proposed, which will mean jobs are disestablished.

Management says it is too early to say if there will be redundancies but it will try to keep the same number of staff through redeployment.

A document obtained by The Southland Times titled "Proposal for Change" outlines the proposals.

The first proposal is to amalgamate PowerNet and Power Services into one company, which would be the 51 per cent shareholder of Peak Power Services.

The second proposal is to restructure all three companies into one integrated company structure.

The document says team members in disestablished roles will be asked to indicate their preference of positions in the new structure.

The document outlines substantial job changes for 21 managerial roles across the three entities, if implemented.

PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin said there were 144 staff across the three entities and the proposal would keep the same number of workers.

There would be duplication in some areas and the company would try to redeploy staff whose jobs were disestablished, he said.

If more than one disestablished worker expressed interest in the same new role, interviews would be held and best candidate chosen, he said.

"It is too early to say if there will be redundancies because it is just a proposal."

Staff were consulted at a meeting last week and the reaction was mixed, he said. The proposal did not come as a surprise and they understood the reasons.

Workers were interested in how the companies would be integrated and how it would impact on their jobs.

The proposed amalgamation was not related to finances. It was to make the business more efficient and effective, he said.

"The three entities operate separately with the same shareholders and it would be more efficient in the long term to operate as one entity".

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union Southland organiser Trevor Hobbs said the union had members in Power Services.

"It appears to me that the majority of workers, including non-union members, are opposed to the changes," he said. He understood staff did not like the way PowerNet operated.

Invercargill city councillor Neil Boniface, a director on Electricity Invercargill Ltd, the joint owner of PowerNet, said the proposals would not affect ratepayers "because no money is involved".

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AT A GLANCE

PowerNet is jointly owned by The Power Company and Electricity Invercargill and is contracted to manage the assets of those companies.

Power Services is owned by Pylon Ltd (owned by Electricity Invercargill Ltd) and Last Tango Ltd (owned by The Power Company Ltd)

Peak Power Services is owned by Power Services Ltd (51 per cent) Murray John Popenhagen, of Queenstown (38.1 per cent), Ian Boud, of Alexandra (9.55 per cent) and David Evans, of Kaiapoi (1.35 per cent).

PowerNet manages the electricity network assets and operations for five network owners in Southland, Queenstown and Otago. The five network owners are The Power Company Ltd, Electricity Invercargill Ltd, the OtagoNet Joint Venture, the Stewart Island Electricity Supply Authority and the Lakeland Network.

The Power Company is owned by Southland electric power supply consumers and has more than 32,700 consumers.

Electricity Invercargill Ltd is owned by Invercargill City Holdings Ltd - the Invercargill City Council-owned company that manages the council's trading companies. The company has just over 16,900 consumers.

- The Southland Times

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