More than 500 job losses have been confirmed at the Auckland Council and its agencies as part of Mayor Wayne Brown’s cost-cutting budget.
Auckland Council chief executive Jim Stabback has announced 160 jobs will be lost and about 200 fulltime equivalent jobs are going at the council’s economic development agency Tātaki Auckland Unlimited.
Stabback said this was the first phase of a structural change to move the council towards a more simple and efficient organisation, and a “second phase” of further changes will begin after the budget in July.
Stabback has long signalled that plans for a “leaner organisation” and becoming “more financially sustainable” would lead to job cuts.
Tātaki chief executive Nick Hill delivered the bad news today via an all-staff video call and by email, saying the impact will be greater in the areas of economic development; arts, entertainment and events; and support services.
“This is hard news to deliver and to read (and) no reflection on the high quality of the work you all deliver for Auckland and its people,” he said.
Tātaki has 1021 fulltime equivalent staff across its businesses, which include Auckland Zoo, Auckland Art Gallery, NZ Maritime Museum and Auckland stadiums.
The job losses, including some existing vacancies, are in addition to the announcement that 150 jobs are going at Auckland Transport and 16 at the property arm Panuku Development Auckland.
Brown is seeking to address a $325 million budget hole, as well as storm-related costs of $50m, while also calling for the sale of the council’s Auckland Airport shares.
The Public Service Association, the union representing council employees, however, says canning staff during a cost-of-living crisis is “not the way to treat loyal workers whose livelihoods are at stake”, while also holding concerns about a drop in public service quality.
Some of the job losses come from not filling roles.
The large number of job losses at Tātaki follows a directive from Brown to slash $44m from its budget.
The board and Hill agreed to savings of $27.5m but have been uncomfortable with a further $16.5m of savings asked of them.
In a budget workshop with councillors this month, Hill and board chairwoman Vicki Salmon presented three savings scenarios and their implications for Tātaki and Auckland. These scenarios were based on savings of $27.5m, a mid-scenario of $37.5m and $44.5m.
Tātaki is waiting to hear what its final budget will be when councillors meet to make decisions on Brown’s final mayoral proposal on June 8.
The agency plans to start the consultation process with the affected staff and team once its budget has been confirmed early next month.
Hill said the board and leadership team are committed to supporting staff through this extended time of uncertainty.
“We are on track to deliver post-merger efficiencies of well over $16m. Work is under way on new revenue streams to decrease our reliance on ratepayer funding, greater utilisation of our venues and facilities, integrated programming, greater use of shared services with the council group and system simplification, standardisation and automation,” he said.