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'End of an era' for Wellington council workers

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A mixture of tears and laughter are expected at the formal farewell of 27 Wellington City Council workers who have given more than 500 years of service between them.

The departure of the staff from the Council’s in-house works unit - CitiOperations - marks the end of an era and the loss of decades of institutional knowledge.

Wellington City Councillor Paul Eagle said it will be an emotional occasion when the big burley men from the unit stand up to say their final words as employees of the city.

"These are our people and I feel for them and their families. It’s also a very sad day for our city," Councillor Eagle said.

"Everyone thought we’d won the CitiOps debate back in the early 2000s. But, the privatisation ghost of the past has come back to haunt us yet again."

CitiOperations was established in 1990 after a competitive tendering process imposed by central government.

The unit survived a failed bid to outsource it in 2001 when the Council voted to retain the status quo.

On 4 April this year, Cr Eagle moved an amendment in line with the resolution to cease any current and future outsourcing of work currently undertaken by CitiOperations.

"My amendment failed thanks to a casting vote - but we still have a council resolution that clearly states CitiOperations should be retained."

Cr Eagle said the CitiOps debate raised questions about democracy and basic human decency.

"Some of these men have given their entire lives to WCC. They’ve earned their jobs and our respect. They deserve better from us."

In looking to the future, Cr Eagle welcomed the chief executive’s focus on improving morale among Council staff, following a survey showing lack of trust and confidence in Council management.

"We’re now entering a rebuild phase and we need to keep the lines of communication open, while maintaining core public services and democratic decision-making."

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