Auckland Council to cut over 500 permanent jobs

Over 500 people will be laid off.
Over 500 people will be laid off. Photo credit: Google Maps

Auckland Council is cutting over 500 jobs, blaming the financial impact of COVID-19.

In a letter to staff on Wednesday, acting chief executive Patricia Reade said the council has been working hard to find savings after being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Like many people across Tāmaki Makaurau and across New Zealand, we’re facing a tough few months," Reade said.

"While the final shape of the budget is yet to be decided, we have already made good progress towards finding savings and making some of the hard changes that will position us to recover stronger."

Reade said the council needs to find $30 million, which will come from a review of their operating model.

"We estimate that we will need to reduce the number of full-time equivalent staff in our organisation from around 6500 (at the end of June 2020) to around 6000."

The council has already cut more than 600 contractor and temporary roles, as well as asking staff earning over $100,000 to consider voluntary pay cuts.

Reade said each area of the business has identified savings opportunities that each add up to $90 million.

"These include deferring or slowing down projects, scaling back events or reducing spending in areas like marketing and professional services."

Councillors will make final decisions on the budget next week.

Moving forward Auckland Council says they want to be a smaller but "more adaptable" organisation, deliver within their means, and focus on communities in need.

But the New Zealand Public Service Association (PSA) says they are challenging the "drastic" job cuts as it denies workers the opportunity for meaningful consultation.

"The financial impacts of COVID-19 are severe which is why trying to right the ship in a single year is misguided," national secretary Glenn Barclay said.

"The Council has the ability to spread the impact of its revenue loss over several years but is choosing to rip the plaster off now. That pain will be felt by workers, their families and ultimately Aucklanders looking to Council for essential public services."

He said it is "disappointing" to see the council make public statements before the budget decision has been made and members have the opportunity to suggest other cost-saving options.

“Both the Local Government Funding Authority and the Auditor General have said councils have flexibility. We urge Auckland Council and Mayor Phil Goff to use it."