14 jobs go after loss of contracts

Whitestone Contracting has made 14 staff redundant after losing two major contracts, but hopes plans it has for the future can limit further reductions.

The company, wholly owned by the Waitaki District Council, in March lost that council's roading contract worth $9.3 million over three years which it had had since 1991, and this month lost the Waimate District Council contract worth $4.9 million over three years which it had held for the past three years.

Yesterday, Whitestone chief executive officer Glenn Campbell said the company had had to restructure after the loss of the roading maintenance contracts and 14 positions had been made redundant.

Some of those were voluntary and others were positions that no longer existed, he said.

The company had 140 full-time-equivalent staff before the redundancies.

The loss of revenue from the two contracts had been replaced somewhat with Whitestone's new Christchurch operation beginning to build in momentum as well as local construction projects.

The Christchurch branch, set up about two months ago, was indirectly picking up work as a result of the earthquake and that was expected to increase.

The branch had five staff positions, including a recently appointed regional manager who would expand the operation, which would have an effect on future job opportunities.

Mr Campbell said the loss of the two contracts, while disappointing, had not affected the overall future of Whitestone Contracting, which remained a viable construction business.

New opportunities in general construction works provided additional profit-generating avenues.

"We will continue to scope viable opportunities locally and within the South Island," Mr Campbell said.

"We look forward to the challenges ahead and being able to provide profitable market returns to our shareholder and local community."

The Waitaki road maintenance contract was awarded to Southland-based SouthRoads Ltd, while the Waimate contract went to Fulton Hogan.

The decision on the contracts is made by the council and the New Zealand Transport Agency, which subsidises the work, under criteria laid down by NZTA and contract law.

Issues such as company ownership and impact on jobs or the community are not part of the criteria, which is partially based on ability to do the work as well as price.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz


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