Staff at Canterbury Television have been told they must take a day's leave if they want to take the day off on the anniversary their building collapsed and burst into flames, killing 16 of their colleagues and friends.

Workers were told this week they could have the whole day off to mark the anniversary of the deadly February 22 earthquake but it would be counted as annual leave.

Staff at the television station spoken to by the Weekend Herald are disgusted at the decision, but a manager has defended it saying it was necessary to ensure the channel stayed on air.

The six-storey building was the site of the largest loss of life during the February tragedy, with a total of 115 people killed.


One staff member told the Weekend Herald they felt "sick, then disgusted" when they heard leave would need to be taken.

"Considering they said [in a memo] 'no company was worse affected than CTV with a very sad loss of life for your colleagues and friends'.

"How can they not see that every day since February 22 it hasn't been easy to be without these people, let alone on the one year anniversary?

"First and foremost it's a business to them. There's not an inch of empathy or care - and that's really sad."

The staff member believed they should have been offered the afternoon off without being forced to take annual leave.

"This is absolutely disrespectful to those we lost."

Management consultant Trevor Egerton said staff were allowed to attend the ceremonies in work time but they had to check in at work in between.

"If they go to the morning service at 9am they can pop into work and check in and then go to the afternoon as well, the memorial, and if they want to go to the 4pm one as well that's fine by us."

However, Mr Egerton said if they took the whole day off and didn't report in it would be treated as a day's leave.

Asked whether it would have been appropriate to give staff a day off without taking leave he said: "CTV has done an enormous amount for affected staff over the last year ...

"It is a 24-hour operation and we actually need to keep running so we need people to come back for a wee while.

"What we're saying is if they come back for a couple of hours and make sure everything's okay and they can go to the rest, but if they don't turn up at all then it's a day's leave."

He said the company had done "extraordinary things" for people since the disaster. "All we want is to make sure - because we are a 24-hour broadcaster - to air and stay on air. People can go into the morning service at Latimer Square if they come in between 10am-12pm, [then head] off to the other ceremony for two hours. Then we are arranging a wreath-laying ceremony at the site at 4pm, so that's all good."

Staff were not being asked to be there all day just to "pop in and make sure everything's okay".