Wellington worker told to work post-quake despite damage, feared for safety

By Ophelia Buckleton

A large crack in the wharf near the area where the staff member said the were told to park. Photo / supplied
A large crack in the wharf near the area where the staff member said the were told to park. Photo / supplied

A Wellington ferry worker claims to have been given no option but to work, despite feeling unsafe because of large cracks and damaged buildings on the quake-stricken wharf.

A crew member for Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry received a text on Monday afternoon, after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, saying staff were to start work at 8pm to sail the Straitsman to Picton at 8.45pm.

"I was not given any option about working. I was told I was starting work and given a time."

The employee said the text from management instructed staff to park their cars in a different place than usual, between BNZ which suffered visible damage and another building at CentrePort, because of damage on the wharf.

The worker, who asked not to be named, said there were large cracks next to the temporary car park.

"I parked my car somewhere knowing it could be towed because I didn't feel safe leaving my car where they wanted us to leave them.

"I did not feel safe at work. I chose to walk nowhere near the wharf because of the damage."

Three crew members did not go to work on Monday because of the earthquake, the worker said.

"One of them said no because she has kids. I was told by someone that she is going to have a stern talking to."

Strait Shipping spokeswoman Wendy Pannett said the company, which owns Bluebridge Ferry, understood that some staff would have been nervous.

"Apparently one staff member did not want to come to work - everyone else turned up with a smile on their face to help get the vital link between Picton and Wellington up and running again.

"Our team has been working tirelessly in difficult - but not unsafe - conditions this week and we are extremely grateful for that.

"If any staff remain concerned about their safety we'd ask they talk to their supervisor and raise their concerns. Our absolute priority is staff and customer safety."

CentrePort has resumed some parts of its business after operations were suspended "until further notice" on Monday, because of damage to buildings, wharves, roadways and liquefaction at the port.

Pannett said the company was given the all-clear by structural experts to open parts of its operations on Monday to get the Cook Strait link running again.

The Wellington City Council urged workers to stay at home on Monday as a result of the damage and disruptions to public transport from the quake.

- NZ Herald

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