SDE staff 'broken' and 'shattered' after WasteNet decision

Southland disAbility Enterprises (SDE) chose today to break confidentiality to inform staff and stakeholders the WasteNet contract will most likely not be renewed with them.

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, however the number of submissions for the contract was unknown.

"It's taken from since before Easter to now to get the answer we've got today and obviously we've taken the stance . . . of letting our people know,'' Mr McMurdo said.

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

Southland disAbility Enterprises announced to their workers today that it is likely they will lose their contract with WasteNet Southland, potentially leaving disabled workers without jobs. Photo: Abbey Palmer
Southland disAbility Enterprises announced to their workers today that it is likely they will lose their contract with WasteNet Southland, potentially leaving disabled workers without jobs. Photo: 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 to take.

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.

Southland disAbility Enterprises chairman Stephen O'Connor and general manager Hamish McMurdo break the news to the company's workers. Photo: Abbey Palmer
Southland disAbility Enterprises chairman Stephen O'Connor (left) and general manager Hamish McMurdo break the news to the company's workers. Photo: Abbey Palmer

Margaret Fitzgerald said the decision shouldn't come down to money.

"It's a social responsibility.''

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.

laura.smith@alliedpress.co.nz

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