EQC confirms major downsizing of Canterbury operations

Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson confirmed sweeping staff cuts on Wednesday.

Earthquake Commission chief executive Ian Simpson confirmed sweeping staff cuts on Wednesday.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has confirmed it will slash its Canterbury workforce by about a third, but the number of remaining staff will be higher than originally thought.

The sweeping job cuts, which also cover Wellington and Hamilton, have been made despite EQC having a backlog of defective repair jobs on its books.

In Christchurch the changes will reduce the total number of staff by 150 to 216, part of a move that will reduce EQC's operating costs from $190 million to $95m.

Original indications were the number of staff in Christchurch could drop as low as 115.

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Chief executive Ian Simpson said the scaled back organisation reflected the amount of work EQC had completed in Canterbury.

It matched EQC's intention to retain a core of specialist staff who would continue to meet the needs of the insurer's remaining Canterbury customers in 2017, he said.

The changes, which were proposed in August, affected EQC staff based in Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton working on fixed term employment agreements until December 2016.

"As our work in Canterbury enters its final phase, we will obviously need to be a smaller organisation," Simpson said.

"In January 2017, EQC will be an organisation of 458 positions, down from 868 positions in August 2016."

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Elsewhere, the number of positions in Wellington will be cut by 185, while 75 roles in Hamilton would go.

As of July, EQC had almost 6000 remedial jobs, including underfloor work, to complete in Canterbury.

The re-repairs were either in progress or in queues waiting to be resolved, according to an internal presentation.

Simpson said there were 75 more positions retained than the original proposal in August.

The increase reflected staff feedback and that decisions about the approach to resolving remedial inquires in 2017 still had to be made before the proposal was finalised, he said.

The new process reduced the need for assessment visits and required customers provide EQC with information such as photographs and builders' quotes pertaining to poor repair work.

A presentation released under the Official Information Act showed EQC preferred to deal with the remaining remedial work by offering customers cash settlements.

"In 2017, EQC will continue to resolve Canterbury remedial inquiries on properties where we have managed a repair, and to resolve claims for drains damaged by the earthquakes.

"There is also a range of administrative and financial tasks to be completed," Simpson said.

An "important focus" in 2017 would be resolving the remaining remedial requests from customers.

EQC and Fletcher EQR had agreed to a new approach to completing the remaining work.

From January, EQC would manage remedial repairs, meaning it would liaise with customers and contractors to complete additional work.

 - Stuff


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