Hutt News : September 20th 2011
www.huttnews.co.nz TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2011 INSIDE: About Town 19 What's on 22 Crossword 22 Sport 60 Library staff upset over job losses By SIMON EDWARDS Hutt City Council says it needed to make changes at its libraries to deliver a better service to customers and to prepare for the roll-out of new technology. But several staff made redun- dant, or forced to accept changed hours, told us they have been left bitter and bruised by the process. At least two non-union members hired lawyers to try and fight redundancy or changed con- ditions. PSA media adviser Michelle Carlile-Alkhouri said from their perspective the change process'' -- which has led to around 15 union members being made redundant, not counting several non-PSA staff -- was handled poorly. A new roster that had fewer part-time roles than before, and also gave people no other option that to work evenings and weekends was in stark contrast to the work-life balance rhetoric of Hutt City Council chief execu- tive Tony Stallinger.'' Ms Carlile-Alkhouri said sev- eral union members had described a climate of fear''. We remain concerned and are keeping a close eye on our members' interests.'' She said the issues thrown up by the review will be a feature when the PSA renegotiates the collective agreement. The city's eight libraries are introducing an RFID (radio fre- quency identification) system that will allow more widespread self-issuing of books by library users. Mr Stallinger said other new technology will allow customers to access the inventory of other libraries, which means they'll be able to access a lot more books than our ratepayers pay for''. Libraries manager Sandra Mann said they will soon be introducing e-books, which is a great example of how we're starting to look towards the future of library borrowing''. Despite claims by the staff who contacted us, all of whom pleaded for anonymity (one person made redundant said they'd had to sign a confidentiality agreement) that the review was primarily about saving money, Mr Stallinger insisted this wasn't so. While the new technology meant some of the previous 95 workers, many of them part- timers, would not be needed, the review would have been done anyway. We're always under pressure to be as efficient as possible.'' Savings overall would probably amount to a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Mr Stallinger said in recent years the council had increased library funding. Now we're looking to pull a little back.'' He was disappointed to hear some staff had complained about lack of communication. He said the council had gone to great lengths to obtain staff feedback, and some original proposals had been altered as a result. Two staff members said they were given letters of confir- mation to say their jobs were safe, only to have that revoked several hours later. It was alleged some staff were sent letters detailing a changed position or hours, with a warning non-acceptance would be taken as their resignation and they would not get a redundancy pay- ment. Mr Stallinger said he wasn't familiar with individual cases, but split shifts and evening work were part of an operation that was looking to meet the needs of the public. It was not the primary role of the libraries to try to protect the previous hours of part-time staff who might have been able to leave at 3.30pm to pick up school children, for example. Staff made redundant were offered help to find new work. Mr Stallinger said there are still several unfilled vacancies. Despite the review, library hours haven't changed greatly. Taita Library is no longer opening on Saturdays but from this week Naenae Library will stay open longer on Saturdays, closing at 5pm. Some small changes at Wai- nuiomata, and Stokes Valley Library took effect yesterday with Wainuiomata Library closing at 5.30pm on weekdays and Stokes Valley Library closing at 5.30pm on Fridays. Mrs Mann says this brings their hours in line with libraries across the city. Scotsmen win over fans By SIMON EDWARDS Aaah it's just a wee obstacle: Fergus Randall, 5, charges at a tackle bag several times his size during the visit of Scotland's Rugby World Cup squad to the Hutt Rec on Sunday. Photos: DEAN PEMBERTON No pushover: Local lads line up against a couple of Scotland's forwards for a friendly scrum. Fantastic souvenir: For 12-year-old Callum McLachlan, a visit to the Hutt Rec in the rain on Sunday morning to watch the Scottish team train was worthwhile. He won a signed Scotland jersey and it was presented by the team's centre, Nick De Luca. Action on the field is what the Rugby World Cup is all about but many locals will have a warm place in their hearts for Scotland after their appearance at the Hutt Rec on Sunday. Hutt Old Boys Marist com- mittee member Trish Burnette estimated more than 1000 locals turned out in the rain to watch the Scottish squad train for 90 minutes. The players and coaching staff then helped run a rugby skills session for scores of eager youngsters, who threw themselves at tackle bags and tried to follow the instructions barked at them in Scottish accents during ball hand- ling exercises. A long autograph signing session, and an official welcome from a Wallace tartan kilt- wearing mayor Ray Wallace, also featured. They were the most gracious team you can imagine,'' Mrs Burnette told Hutt News. The players were just lovely and they were so willing to inter- act with the public.'' Many of the locals were able to make Scottish connections with the players. Mrs Burnette said she overhead Hutt people mentioning their Scottish links to the players and there'd be exclamations of I know him'' or Ah yes, I know where you played''. Our photographer Dean Pemberton, who has been to sev- eral of these RWC events now, said it was easily the best he'd witnessed. The rest of the open trainings have been so hands-off, it's not funny. This one seemed to be really enjoyed by the players and fans alike,'' he told us. It was a coup for organisation of the event by Hutt City Council's Leisure Active unit, Wellington Rugby Union and Hutt Old Boys Marist. Hutt folk have a chance to meet Tonga's Rugby World Cup players, and watch them train, at another session at the Hutt Rec on Tuesday, September 27, 10am till noon.
September 13th 2011
September 27th 2011