Nine jobs lost in roading contracts shake-up

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2014

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Sicon's Timaru office will cut nine jobs in the wake of a shake-up of South Canterbury's roading contracts.

Chief executive Dave Wilson said it was the company's second restructure of the Timaru office in the last three years.

"It is unfortunate, but there just isn't the level of work available in South Canterbury to sustain our current level of staff," he said.

"We will continue to do contract work for the local councils on parks and reserves, as well for some private contractors, but the state highway work was a big contract."

Mr Wilson said Sicon employed 22 staff at its Timaru branch, but nine would go at the end of March.

"We have lost some very experienced and capable staff. It is disappointing, but we understand some staff might have found other opportunities," he said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency granted Downer a seven-year maintenance contract for South Canterbury's state highway network. The new contract comes into effect in April.

The other bids were a Fulton Hogan-led consortium, a Higgins Contractors-led group and Invercargill-based South Roads - with prices ranging from $69.9 million (Downer) to $81.9m. NZTA would not confirm who offered the highest price.

Sicon and Opus were part of the unsuccessful Fulton Hogan-led bid. Opus Timaru business manager Bevan Sandison said the region's growing economy meant it had been able to find new work.

"We're in a good position," he said.

Opus employs 18 staff in Timaru. It had provided civil engineering work on South Canterbury's state highway network for the past 23 years.

Fulton Hogan, which employs 95 people at its Timaru office, said staffing levels were "unaffected" by the announcement.

Downer's contract could be extended to a maximum of nine years, but NZTA could also re-tender the contract after three years if it felt targets were not being met.

Downer formed a partnership with engineering services provider GHD, surfacing supplier Isaac, Paul Smith Earthmoving and vegetation control operator GSL to deliver the new contract.

It has not confirmed whether it would employ more staff.

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- The Timaru Herald

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