Jobs there 'for everyone who wants to be placed'

The fates of 18 Dunedin Public Libraries staff will be known over the next few weeks following the ''disestablishment'' of their jobs.

Following a library staffing review over several months, the Dunedin City Council has removed 22 positions, affecting 18 people, and created 10 new positions across its public library service.

With 10 positions vacant at present and two part-time fixed-term positions available, there was enough work for all the people whose positions were disestablished if they wanted it, arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke said.

''We have more full-time equivalents available .. . than we have staff needing a place, so there's an opportunity for everyone who wants to be placed, without any forced redundancies.''

The changes have affected all the libraries' services, including the book bus, community libraries and the city library.

He said the jobs were across the spectrum and involved several people who worked in multiple departments.

How many of those whose positions were disestablished would get jobs in the new structure would boil down to whether the available roles were of interest to them, Mr Hawke said.

Staffing had not been reviewed at the library since 1998.

The new positions involved different job titles and roles and reflected a desire to save money, but also to respond to changes in the past 15 years in technology, including radio frequency (RFID) systems, and the availability of new services.

The available jobs included the vacant Reed Rare Books Collection librarian position, council information services librarian and a new position for someone to digitise content.

''What we've attempted to do through this ... is position the library to take advantage of those new technologies and new services to provide better services and better value for the dollar for ratepayers, which is what is expected of us.

"I believe the intention is to do that without anyone having to lose a job.''

He declined to say how much the review aimed to save, but it is on the public record that savings of $180,000 in operating costs were expected from the implementation of RFID.

The new jobs would be made available in the first instance to the staff whose positions were disestablished, as per council policy, Mr Hawke said.

He refused to comment on whether there would be interviews for the positions should more than one person apply, saying he felt it was ''inappropriate '' to discuss that prior to the process, but said the union had been involved from the outset.

Also, the council was using a process suggested by the union for placing the people whose positions were removed into new roles.

If those roles were not filled by those people, they would be opened up to the rest of the libraries' 130 staff.

Whether people who did not get one of the new jobs or chose not to apply for one would receive redundancy would have to be discussed with individuals, he said.

''It's quite normal for organisations to look to their structure to see whether its operating is optimum for the current environment, and the community would expect us to do that.

"I think it's responsible in the way that we've done it, to invite staff to move from current roles to ones we've decided will be better serving the community in the future.''

Southern Local Government Officers Union Dunedin organiser Ann McWhirter was not available for comment yesterday.


Staffing changes

Positions disestablished: 22 = 8 full-time and 14 part-time jobs = 18 people (some staff had more than one part-time job) = 12.92 FTEs

Available jobs (new and vacant positions): 20 = 10 full-time and 10 part-time = 14.24 FTEs

Also available: two part-time fixed-term positions

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