Last week WCC narrowly voted to outsource street cleaning work but also to cease all future outsourcing of jobs pending a review. At the meeting councillors claimed they were unaware of the outsourcing that had been happening in the Council’s Citi Operations unit. However the PSA, the main union organising WCC staff, has repeatedly raised concerns about restructuring and outsourcing. A meeting of PSA members in early March called for a moratorium on restructuring and outsourcing and for an independent review to happen.
What last week’s council meeting made clear was that there was a trust and confidence issue between elected councillors and WCC management – a point highlighted by incoming CEO Kevin Lavery. For this reason it’s important that any review of council operations be done externally rather than internally given the issues so far. It’s about good governance of Wellington City Council, and part of this is having public debate and consultation about the issue of outsourcing.
In the past 18 months over 200 jobs have been lost at WCC due to restructuring and outsourcing and that number is climbing by the week. In the first quarter of 2013 five council business units have gone through major restructuring, in addition to the Citi Operations jobs which management has proposed to outsource. WCC is bleeding experienced staff and for those who stay the constant change and uncertainly is causing significant stress. That the elected councillors in the governance role at WCC have not been aware of what’s happening is very concerning. It’s important that an external review with public input is conducted to restore staff and public confidence in the council.
Nick Kelly, PSA Organiser for Wellington City Council