Hard to believe, but despite having a Green Party mayor the Wellington City Council is about to outsource work currently done by council staff.
We all know what that means – redundancies, longer hours, poorer safety standards and ultimately lower pay for workers as contractors screw down wages in a bid to undercut each other and land the contract.
The outsourcing proposal is being driven by council management, which has attempted to bypass any democratic opposition by pushing it through under the radar.
But they’ve been rumbled, and the Left’s councilors, led by Wellington Labour southern ward councilor Paul Eagle, have called a special meeting today to put a stop to it.
Eagle had to get eight signatures on the council to call the special meeting. Celia Wade-Brown was one of them, but it’s rumoured she still may not vote to halt the outsourcing. Certainly her comments on the issue so far haven’t given much cause for hope.
The meeting is at 1pm today. Paul Eagle will be moving a motion calling for WCC to “cease any current and future outsourcing of work currently undertaken by CitiOperations” pending a review. (CitiOperations traditionally have been responsible for running the city landfill and maintenance work of council infrastructure.)
This will be a major test of Celia Wade-Brown’s progressive credentials. The elected councillors are equally split on the issue of privatization, with seven councillors supporting Paul Eagle’s motion and seven siding with WCC management in supporting outsourcing of this work.
If Celia supports Eagle’s motion it will send a clear message to incoming WCC CEO Kevin Lavery that privatisation and outsourcing are off the agenda in Wellington. Lavery’s appointment is already cause for concern because of his role in supporting privatisation at his previous council role in Cornwall.
If Celia votes with the right on this issue a number of her left of centre colleagues on the council intend to publicly withdraw their support of her mayoralty. Given the right are already running a concerted campaign against Celia this would leave her without allies on council. Her support of outsourcing would also undermine her credibility in supporting the Living Wage campaign – after all, contracting out is a major factor in driving down wages.
The meeting is today at 1pm in Committee Room 1, Wellington City Council buildings. You’re welcome to go along and attend.
You can also email Celia and encourage her to do the right thing at email@example.com