Quakes cause more job losses

By Sarah McDougall of NZPA

Are you affected by the job losses?
Email here

Liquifaction at AMI Stadium, which will be out of action for some time. Photo / NZPA/Pam Johnson
Liquifaction at AMI Stadium, which will be out of action for some time. Photo / NZPA/Pam Johnson

Council-owned Christchurch event managers Vbase today announced it is cutting the equivalent of 151 full-time jobs.

Before February's magnitude 6.3 earthquake, the company had hosted more than 1800 events a year at its four venues: the Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Town Hall for Performing Arts, AMI Stadium and CBS Canterbury Arena.

It had 218 full-time equivalent positions, made up of 99 full-time staff, 96 part time and 666 casuals, chief executive Brian Pearson said.

In line with a dramatic drop in event numbers, 45 full-time positions would become redundant at the end of June and hours for part-time and casual staff had been reduced, he said.

The restructured organisation comprised 67 full-time equivalent staff, of which 54 were full-time positions.

The board, chief executive and five senior Vbase staff would also be made redundant, with the Christchurch City Council taking control of the business during the next two to three months.

A general manager would be recruited to oversee venue business development and event management.

"Many of our team have already suffered loss of some kind in their private lives due to the quakes, but despite these stresses have shown remarkable dignity and compassion at this difficult time," Mr Pearson said.

"I am enormously proud of them and what we have achieved together."

Vbase's venues were being reassessed after Monday's 5.7 and 6.3 aftershocks.

The arena reopened in March but the other venues remained closed. The future of the town hall and the convention centre was uncertain and they would not reopen until at least the end of 2013.

Downsizing of Vbase had a one off cost of $1.4 million, but would save $3.8 million a year.

Meanwhile, strong aftershocks continued to shake the city today, with a 4.4-magnitude quake striking about 6.30am, a 4.4 about 2.40pm and a 4.5 about 4.20pm.

Health officials are warning people to stay away from beaches, rivers, surface water and waterways because of a high risk of a gastroenteritis outbreak.

Monday's aftershocks caused further damage to sewerage pipes and increased levels of untreated human sewage in local rivers, the estuary and sea.

Testing had shown contamination levels at some beaches could make people ill, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Ramon Pink said.

"It is vital people adhere to this warning as the current situation means there is a significant risk of outbreaks of gastroenteritis."

People should not fish or gather shellfish, or undertake recreation activities such as kayaking, rowing and surfing, Dr Pink said.

"We are concerned about personal wellbeing, but even more so about the risk of a significant outbreak of illness in our damaged city," he said.

Council water and waste manager Mark Christison said Monday's earthquakes would "clearly impact" the council's goal to have sewer service restored to all households by the end of August.

"We have been working all week on clearing silt and sand that has once again clogged sewer pipes in the worst-affected areas of the city... We are still determining the full impact on Monday's earthquakes on the system and we will reassess the deadline in coming days."

Most residents with chemical toilets were being asked to use them again, though many had been able to use their own facilities before Monday's quakes, Mr Christison said.

"I understand that the setbacks caused by Monday's earthquakes are frustrating for people who have recently been told they can start using their household toilet again, and we are working as quickly as possible to clear the sewers and restore service to homes."

All residents are being advised to boil water and conserve it, while all schools are expected to be open by Monday.

- NZPA

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 20 Aug 2014 23:16:30 Processing Time: 714ms