Council jobs offered back

Five Waipā staffers laid off because they refused to have Covid vaccinations have been offered their jobs back.

Council chief executive Gary Dyet has told The News “in light of the changing circumstances” and new Ministry of Health guidance, the council will lift its staff vaccine policy on April 4 at 11.59pm.

Garry Dyet

The News revealed earlier this month 50 of the council’s 330 staff did not initially support the council’s policy for mandated vaccines.

About 40 agreed to get vaccinated to comply with the policy and keep their jobs but nine who refused were told they would lose their jobs on April 1.

The council confirmed to affected staff on March 23 they would be terminated on that date and by earlier this week five had already left the council and been paid out their annual leave and entitlements.

The News understands the council removed access to staff emails and building access a fortnight ago.

“For now, we are not in a position to comment further until we have discussions with those people – however, I would hope to not lose any staff,” said Dyet.

But one departing staff member said the whole process had made them feel “hurt and betrayed” and it was a “short sighted” decision given the Public Service Commission advice to “pause” staff dismissals .

“What an absolute mess. The amount of time and money that’s been spent on this is ridiculous.”

Another ex-staffer took to social media on Sunday saying it had been “an incredibly emotional and stressful time”.

“I will never in my lifetime forget being sacked after 17 years’ service due to not accepting a medical procedure that was not right for me.”

His plan to work to the end of this year and retire on his terms had been “ripped out from underneath me,” he said.

The News has agreed not to name the staffers involved.

There are 26 vacancies at the council to backfill leavers, internal promotions and internal appointments.

The council’s risk register says inadequate staffing capacity and capability to deliver council’s objectives “may contribute to failure and/or significantly increased costs to deliver service levels and key projects.”

Consultants, some who The News understands once worked for the council, are covering “a small proportion of work,” said Dyet, to ensure there is no detrimental impact on its levels of service or project deadlines.

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