SdE informs staff contract probably lost

Southland disAbility Enterprise (SdE) chose yesterday to break confidentiality and inform staff and stakeholders its contract with the WasteNet would most likely not be renewed.

SdE general manager Hamish McMurdo said negotiations for contract renewal began in April last year but were hindered in December when WasteNet made the call to put the contract out for tender.

The tender process began before Christmas and the number of submissions for the contract was unknown.

Mr McMurdo said: ''It's taken from since before Easter to now to get the answer we've got today and obviously we've taken the stance that we have of letting our people know which, in good conscience, we should have been doing anyhow.''

He said the decision had left him feeling ''broken'' and ''shattered''.

Southland disAbility enterprises chairman Stephen O'Connor (left) and general manager Hamish...
Southland disAbility enterprises chairman Stephen O'Connor (left) and general manager Hamish McMurdo break the news to the company's workers yesterday that they may lose their contract with WasteNet Southland. Photos: Abbey Palmer
Almost 90 of those employed by SdE were disabled and many of their family members had in the past expressed concerns if the SdE contract was not renewed, there would be few work opportunities for them.

SdE board chairman Stephen O'Connor said at a meeting for family and employees the process for them was at an end after WasteNet formally advised them negotiations with a ''preferred proposer'' had begun.

He said WasteNet intended to present a report to the Waste Advisory Group on May 30, which would need ratification from the three WasteNet councils, Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and Gore District Council.

The news came as a surprise to the family and employees who heard it.

Margaret Fitzgerald said the decision shouldn't come down to money - ''it's a social responsibility''.

Ms Fitzgerald, whose sister works on the current WasteNet contract, said losing the contract would have a huge impact.

''She has a purpose in life, she has a purpose to get out of bed every day, they all do ... this contract is everything for them.

The workers hear the news yesterday
The workers hear the news yesterday
''We're not going to give up; there's no way we're giving up now. Today is a very emotional day for us, but we'll fight.''

Southland District Mayor and WasteNet spokesman Gary Tong said he was disappointed SdE decided to breach confidentiality.

''The entirety of the process is still very much alive and until further inquiries are made there's not a lot more I can say on this matter because we are dealing with a tender,'' he said.

The current contract, which has been with SdE since 2011, is due to end on June 30.


Why is there a requirement for confidentiality that a company has not received the contract? To have confidentiality regarding the price is understandable, but why does it need to cover whether the contract was awarded to them or not?