Leaked surveys show Delta workers’ concern

A pair of leaked staff surveys show significant numbers of Delta workers have been concerned about the company’s attitude towards health and safety.

The full 2014 staff survey results and a summary of the 2016 results show overall staff satisfaction is lagging behind New Zealand averages.

Meanwhile, two current Delta workers have come forward to back whistleblower Richard Healey’s claims the electricity network is unsafe and say he has the support of the majority of workers.

Both staff members believed Aurora, which contracts management of the network out to Delta, had let the network deteriorate in order to pay larger dividends to the Dunedin City Council.

The full 2014 survey results contain a detailed breakdown of answers and showed the worst-performing areas were communication, support for the direction the company was taking and health and safety.

Dissatisfaction was worst when it came to the question of whether managers were committed to keeping staff safe, which at 61% was 21 percentage points below the New Zealand average.

Performance on health and safety was worse in "distribution" departments, which are responsible for the hands-on job of maintaining the network.

The overall satisfaction rate stood at 49% compared with an average of 58% across other New Zealand organisations.

"This difference of 9% is significant and indicates that employees at  Delta are generally less positive than their peers in other New Zealand organisations," the report summarising the results said.

Staff satisfaction levels had improved slightly by 2016, but remained 6% behind the New Zealand average.

When it came to health and safety-related questions, satisfaction levels fell slightly in four areas,  was steady in one area and rose slightly in two areas  compared with the 2015 survey.

A detailed breakdown of answers was not included in the 2016 summary.

Delta spokesman Gary Johnson noted the improvement between 2014 and 2016 and the measures  Delta had taken to improve health and safety.

"Areas that have improved include managers’ recognition and reward of good safety performance and staff confidence to challenge processes about safety," Mr Johnson  said.

While staff satisfaction was important, it was not the only measure of what made an organisation a good place to work.

"Our staff turnover is between 8% and 10% a year and the average time to fill a vacancy is 29 days.  Both indicators are considered healthy."

Health and safety was a "big area of focus" and Delta encouraged an open safety culture and addressed the issue at regular meetings.

Delta also had a "safety alert"  system used to alert staff and contractors about incidents or new safety precautions.

The board and management had also taken  steps to improve staff engagement,  such as better internal communication and employee recognition awards.

Mr Johnson did not respond to comments by the two current staff members, saying safety and network performance was the subject of three separate reviews.

"We are providing information for those reviews and will wait till they are complete."

Staff member Graeme Jeffery said he was keen to come out in support of Mr Healey and emphasise he was not alone in being concerned about the state of the network.

"I feel like Richard has gone out on a limb ... and I feel like he needs to be supported," Mr Jeffery said.

Aurora chief executive Grady Cameron’s comment the network was ageing was no excuse for the state it was in, he said.

The reason why it was ageing was because decaying parts had not been replaced.

"What you have got to realise is the electricity network is only about 100 years old and for the last 26 years it hasn’t been maintained," Mr Jeffery said.

"So for a quarter of the life of the network it hasn’t been maintained."

It was not just the poles which were decaying. Fuses were breaking up, switches were not working and cable boxes were "falling to bits".

Another staff member, who did not wish to be named for fear of losing his job, said workers did not believe Mr Cameron’s comments the network was safe.

"If it was he wouldn’t be accelerating the pole replacement programme and changing [almost] 3000 poles within 12 months."

Staff were happy with the $30million plan to replace poles, he said.


Satisfaction results

In  2014 survey, overall satisfaction stood at 49% compared with  New Zealand average of 58%.

• In  2016 survey, overall satisfaction stood at 52% compared with  New Zealand average of 58%.

• Detailed 2014 results show health and safety was among  worst  performing areas.

• 61% of  staff believed managers were committed to keeping staff safe,  compared with average of 82%.

• 46% of Dunedin staff who work in the department which does hands-on work to maintain network believe managers responded in timely manner to health and safety issues, compared with average of 75%.

• Among Central Otago staff in the same department, 46% believed management was committed to keeping staff safe — 36 percentage points below average.

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