Cleaners have been a casualty in the shift to a brand new Ashburton library and civic centre, Te Whare Whakatere.

Four Ashburton District Council cleaners were made redundant in the lead-up to Christmas as it opted for a commercial cleaning company to service the new building.

“With Te Whare Whakatere being a larger and more complex building to clean, plus the different public operating hours, we investigated whether it made sense to outsource the cleaning or continue with in-house cleaners,” people and facilities group manager Sarah Mosley said.

Christchurch-based OCS was appointed following a tendering process, guided by the council’s procurement policy Mosley said.

“We commenced the consultation process with affected staff early in November.

“OCS employ local people and as part of this change process, all staff had the opportunity to transfer.

“While team members decided not to transfer to OCS, we were able to retain some staff.”

Three staff remain as council employees, totalling 1.8 full-time equivalent (FTE), and four staff (2.7 FTE) were made redundant.

It was unfortunate timing, Mosley said.

“We acknowledge that, while advising staff of the change right before Christmas wasn’t ideal, the timing coincided with the revised opening dates for the new building, with the employees’ last workday scheduled for early January,” Mosely said.

OCS cleans for a number of other local businesses and many other council facilities across the South Island, she said.

By Jonathan Leask of Local Democracy Reporting

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air