Work­ers ‘left high and dry’

Trash Palace clo­sure leaves feel­ings raw

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

‘‘I have no idea what the hell I’m go­ing to do now.’’

A Mana Re­cov­ery em­ployee, who spoke to Kapi-Mana News on con­di­tion of anonymity, said he and his col­leagues were hurt­ing fol­low­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s an­nounce­ment last month that it was go­ing into vol­un­tary liq­ui­da­tion.

Thirty-five staff will be with­out a job when Trash Palace closes its doors on April 21.

He is con­cerned about not be­ing paid re­dun­dancy or hol­i­day pay.

‘‘They’ve left us high and dry. De­ci­sions have been made else­where in the busi­ness that have not made sense,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s [liq­ui­da­tion] meant a large num­ber of peo­ple have nowhere to go.’’

Many of the staff could not read or write, or had other de­fi­cien­cies, he said, and he hoped a new model adopted by Cap­i­tal & Coast Dis­trict Health Board to­wards men­tal health sup­port would be able to as­sist them.

Deal­ing with cus­tomers was some­thing he en­joyed ev­ery day.

‘‘It was busy, but you get to know peo­ple and the days go fast.

‘‘I put my heart and soul into that place. It was like a fam­ily, and then you find out the doors are go­ing to close. I’m not eat­ing or sleep­ing. I’m wor­ried about what I’m go­ing to do.’’

Mana Re­cov­ery is­sued a me­dia state­ment on March 24, say­ing fund­ing from the dis­trict health board – which made up about 22 per cent of its rev­enue – ceased in 2014, leav­ing the re­cy­cling and grounds main­te­nance part of the busi­ness as the ba­sis for its in­come.

But ‘‘in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive mar­kets’’ had meant the or­gan­i­sa­tion had to be wound up, Mana Re­cov­ery chair­man Alan El­lis said.

‘‘ We have tried var­i­ous ini­tia­tives to con­tinue our ser­vices, [ but] we op­er­ate in highly com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ments and have re­luc­tantly ac­cepted it is no longer fea­si­ble to con­tinue our ser­vices with­out on­go­ing fund­ing sup­port,’’ he said.

Kapi-Mana News last week asked Mana Re­cov­ery about the like­li­hood of pay­ing out re­dun­dan­cies and hol­i­day pay, if per­for­mance re­views had been car­ried out with em­ploy­ees, what steps had been taken to keep em­ploy­ees abreast of the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion and whether dis­cus­sions were un­der way with other op­er­a­tors to take over Trash Palace.

We were told no fur­ther com­ment would be made.

Mana Re­cov­ery staff hand­outs from Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber showed cost- sav­ing mea­sures, such as dis­es­tab­lish­ing po­si­tions, a freeze on re­cruit­ment and re­view­ing the in­or­ganic col­lec­tion con­tract with Porirua City Coun­cil, were car­ried out.

A full re­view of Trash Palace’s staff rosters, work and sales prac­tices, and mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing was also com­pleted.

The in­creas­ing land­fill costs was not help­ing Mana Re­cov­ery’s bot­tom line, the hand­out said.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett, who is a board mem­ber of Cap­i­tal & Coast Dis­trict Health Board, said it was a shame a val­ued or­gan­i­sa­tion like Mana Re­cov­ery had folded.

He said he hoped the coun­cil could help in the search for a new provider to keep Trash Palace run­ning.

‘‘It’s fair to say most Porirua peo­ple will be pretty up­set to hear Trash Palace is not con­tin­u­ing,’’ he said. ‘‘I hope some­thing else will rise from the ashes and the men­tal health con­sumers can be em­ployed again.

‘‘The coun­cil has to think very care­fully about let­ting Trash Palace cease to op­er­ate and we will be ask­ing our com­mu­nity to come up with sug­ges­tions.’’

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett hopes Trash Palace will con­tinue to op­er­ate.

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