Huge staff cuts at Grand Chancellor, Arts Centre

By Paul Harper, NZPA

The Hotel Grand Chancellor in central Christchurch city. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The Hotel Grand Chancellor in central Christchurch city. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Almost 100 employees at the badly quake-damaged Hotel Grand Chancellor in Christchurch are to lose their jobs.

Many of the hotel's staff have been found other positions elsewhere in New Zealand and Australia, however 92 employees will be made redundant.

Grand Hotels International group general manager Frank Delli Cicchi told Radio New Zealand the employees were guaranteed a month's pay after the February 22 earthquake and those losing their jobs would be paid an additional notice period and redundancy pay.

"We certainly did not want to do this, but we too have a business we need to keep up and have commitments to insurers and shareholders," he said.

"From a personal point of view, the Government should be assisting these people - it is none of their individual doing this unfortunate event happened."

The Government's Earthquake Support Package, which included wage subsidies of between $300 and $500 per week, runs until April 5.

Prime Minister John Key told reporters on Monday the Government is still considering the details of a new package but said the criteria was sure to tighten.

The building, which was stabilised following the quake to allow Urban Search and Rescue members to work in the area safely, will either be brought down floor by floor or all at once, although the latter option could cause damage to nearby buildings.

Meanwhile, the central city Arts Centre is also laying off staff.

A collection of shops, bars and cinemas in heritage buildings, the Arts Centre suffered extensive damage in last month's quake with every historic building in the complex unsafe to enter.

Arts Centre tenants have been evicted and more than half of all staff laid off.

The tenants, including the Dux de Lux, the Court Theatre and Untouched World, have been told they may not be able to return for up to four years.

Eight fulltime and 16 part-time centre staff will be made redundant, leaving only nine fulltime staff members and one part-time, The Press reported.

The tenants had to go because of safety concerns and uncertainty about when the buildings would be restored, centre director Ken Franklin said.

Some Arts Centre buildings may be not be saved, despite comprehensive insurance cover.

"We are uncertain about the time frame for this and where the money can be directed, so we don't know the form of tenancy we will be able to offer. The tenants who have been associated with this site need to consider their own future in alternative spaces."

Untouched World chief executive Peri Drysdale said the store would not relocate in the central city for at least a year and planned to retreat to the Burnside flagship store.

Academy and Cloisters cinema owner Rodney Cook said he had been told it could be up to four years before he could reopen his business on the site.

"I'm devastated. The thought of losing the Academy and the Cloisters is a horror story for me," he said.

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