Delta's explanations 'farcical', staff believe

Grady Cameron.
Grady Cameron.
Delta's Dunedin workers have called on the company's management to come clean on safety issues, and keep the public informed about the dangers they face.

A meeting on Monday of about 100 Dunedin workers agreed to present a letter to management. The letter was leaked to the Otago Daily Times.

It said it was ''quite frankly, farcical'' that the company blamed problems it faced on an ageing network, rather than ''lack of maintenance, lack of planning and the excessive profits creamed from the network for the last 26 years''.

Delta chief executive Grady Cameron responded yesterday, saying the company would meet staff today to discuss concerns.

Over the past few weeks, it has been revealed the Dunedin City Council-owned company and lines company Aurora have not maintained electricity infrastructure, leaving thousands of power poles compromised and potentially dangerous.

A report on an investigation by consultant Deloitte on the issue is expected next week, and Mayor Dave Cull will be given the first verbal report on the results tomorrow.

The Otago Daily Times understands Monday's meeting followed discussions about whether workers should have a say on the issues the company faced.

Staff called on the Etu union to organise a meeting for union and non-union members to discuss the matter, and the resolution in the letter that was developed for the meeting.

The letter said the employees, who installed and maintained lines, cables and equipment in the network ''believe that much of the network is in a run-down state''.

That meant compromised safety for both workers and the public.

While there was no quick fix for the problem, Aurora and Delta needed to admit there were safety issues and mitigate risks to the public.

The letter suggested radio advertisements and full-page newspaper notices ''explaining the dangers and showing what gear and areas to avoid around poles etc''.

Information released to the media needed to be accurate and factual, ''something which has been sadly lacking so far''.

The council needed an inquiry into why the company structure and management of those structures had led to a prolonged period of poor maintenance and lack of capital investment.

''As our greatest concern is safety for the public, followed by their security of supply, we believe the continual denial of these problems is preventing progress for resolving the issues and not working in the best interests of the public and workers alike.''

Mr Cameron yesterday afternoon said he had met members of staff and union representative Mike Kirwood yesterday, ''and they raised a number of topics they want to discuss''.

''I'll be meeting with the group again tomorrow, along with members of the management team, and we'll go through their concerns together.

''We have regular communications with our staff, but we can always do better and one of the things we will be discussing is how we can better meet their needs for better information.''

Mr Kirwood said, ''I'm very disappointed it's [the letter] been leaked before we had a response from the company.''


The blame for lack of sufficient maintenance in the past is quite irrelevant.
What is relevant is Delta get on the front foot. They said they will spend $30 million. OK, that was nice for the headlines, but get on with it. They need to urgently publish their plans to restore the network to good condition. Tell us how many people or contractors they are hiring and exactly when work will start. And when they will catch up to where they should be.
They should tell us today and start tomorrow, not next year. Doing this will restore some faith in the company and help quieten the detractors.

Failure to do this now re-enforces the opinion they just don't have a plan and heads should roll.

Heads should roll anyway Keith, the sooner the better.



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