Te Manawa jobs face axe ahead of $58m redevelopment
An ‘‘out of the blue’’ restructuring proposal for Palmerston North’s Te Manawau museum could see up to four staff made redundant, saving $100,000 a year.
Museum chief Andy Lowe said the proposal would hit one team of five, potentially affecting four people, with one to be moved elsewhere.
The team facing the axe builds, decorates and maintains internal and external exhibits.
He said the proposal would allow Te Manawa to ‘‘free up and create resources’’ for developing new exhibitions. ‘‘This is a proposal only at this stage and may change upon consultation.’’
Kevin Bunker, an organiser for the Public Service Association union representing the Te Manawa staff affected, said they were the people who put exhibitions together and provided physical infrastructure.
‘‘The proposal is that in future these services would be contracted out.’’
He said the unexpected proposal had taken everyone by surprise, and those those affected were shocked, stunned and upset.
‘‘The people affected don’t think much of the proposal. In terms of the skills they have, and the numbers of years’ experience – you can’t get that sort of expertise off the shelf. For the organisation to lose that expertise ... I personally can’t see the sense.’’
Te Manawa had a fulltime workforce of 32.
Bunker said the proposal expected to make annual savings of $100,000 – the equivalent of two average salaries – though he said the transitional costs would be quite high, and recouping those costs could take some time.
Lowe said while there was a potential for savings, that was not the reason behind the proposal.
Stuart Schwartz, a former director of Te Manawa when it was known as The Science Centre and Manawatu¯ Museum, said the redundancies didn’t make sense, especially as among them were nationally recognised, longserving and loyal staff members, and the museum was embarking on a $58 million rebuilding programme.
The outcome of the employment consultation process was expected on Monday.