Hamilton City Council staff who could lose their jobs next year as the organisation looks to slash millions of dollars off its budgets have criticised senior staff for excluding them from the review process.
Most of the members of two unions representing council workers - the Amalgamated Workers Union and the Public Service Association - have not been consulted over the job cuts and the union organisers are calling on the chief executive to shed some light on the issue.
The first of a series of Long Term Plan meetings began last week and already 22.4 job cuts have been approved from the parks and gardens, community development units and housing for the elderly units.
Amalgamated Union Workers organiser Brian Rimmer, who represents about 50 union members working for gardens, waste water and refuse units of the council, said he had difficulties communicating with the council.
He was in the process of writing to the council about a breach in the contract which requires the organisation to talk with staff about redundancies before they are announced.
"The only advice they have had from the council is they are looking at the Long Term Plan.
"They [staff] are obviously afraid of losing their jobs. No jobs means no income."
At the latest Public Service Association Enterprise delegate meeting two weeks ago, members expressed disappointment at being left in the dark and called on their union organiser to express their concern to chief executive Barry Harris on their behalf.
The council also works with the National Distribution Union.
The Herald obtained a copy of the minutes of the September 21 meeting circulated last week to the union's 100 members at the council, including library staff. In the minutes, members raised concerns about the union not being given the opportunity to contribute to the council's cost-cutting plans.
A staff member, who spoke to the Herald on the condition they would not be named, felt staff could have come up with some forward-thinking ideas to make the changes had they been asked.
"The council are making these decisions that impact on staff and yet they don't engage with us. Staff input could lead to more innovative methods of reducing the operating costs and increasing returns to council."
Councillors raised concerns about the possible job losses last week and were told by Mr Harris he could not give them a total number of the proposed cuts until all the discussions were completed in December. The discussions are not yet halfway through.
Mr Harris said the HR manager had briefed the unions and unit managers had been open and honest and offered support to staff throughout the process.
No redundancies would be confirmed until the decision was signed off next June and he said the council had a good track record of redeploying staff if roles were disestablished as a result of the Long Term Plan process.
The consultation process would begin in mid-2012 after any redundancies were signed off.
"At this stage we don't have any idea of the level of redundancies that will be associated with those changes."
He said a large number of staff had been involved in reviewing the service levels and all staff have been invited to pass efficiency-saving ideas on to managers or himself.
Further proposed job cuts will be recommended on Thursday this week when the council reviews the services by eight council units including libraries, museum, zoo, planning and guidance and animal education and control.
Councillor Martin Gallagher said he met with the PSA organiser last week and encouraged the unions to submit on the Long Term Plans.
He had been informed by the chief executive that he would engage with unions.
"... I will advocate in terms of unions, but I'm not a delegate and I don't get involved in individual decisions when there's a fallout in terms of jobs."