Aoraki Polytech to shed positions

Aoraki Polytechnic has cut 24 jobs and proposes cutting seven more. Oamaru and Dunedin staff are among those who could be affected.

The polytechnic confirmed last week it was cutting 38 support positions and replacing them with 14 positions, following a staff consultation period, which started in October. Seven more redundancies were proposed yesterday, including one position in Oamaru, and cuts to hours and possibly one staff member in Dunedin.

The cuts come as the polytechnic, which has campuses in Timaru, Ashburton, Oamaru, Christchurch and Dunedin, faces tough times. Earlier this year it forecast a drop of 400 equivalent full-time students and a $2.3 million deficit.

Acting chief executive Alex Cabrera said the changes involved replacing four separate schools with a single ''teaching and learning unit''.

''I am sincerely sorry that some individuals will be affected. It is never easy to have to face this sort of change, particularly at this time of the year.

''However, these changes are necessary for the future of the organisation,'' Mr Cabrera said.

Given Timaru was the biggest campus ''it is likely'' the largest impact of the cuts would be felt there, he said.

Tertiary Education Union southern region organiser Kris Smith was unhappy with the way staff cuts had been handled and how long it had taken to come to a final decision, which left staff facing a difficult Christmas.

''We accept that there was a need to reduce staffing, but it's gone too far.''

The union and staff members felt they did not have enough input in the process and that more cuts would be likely.

''It looks a bit like a death by a thousand cuts,'' Mr Smith said.

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