Support for SDE over recycling decision

Hamish McMurdo
Hamish McMurdo
Southland DisAbility Enterprises general manager Hamish McMurdo says he is humbled by the amount of public support shown following the news WasteNet would put its contract out for tender.

While Mr McMurdo thanked the public for its support, he did not want to jeopardise the tender process with WasteNet.

SDE has a contract with WasteNet to sort the recyclables at its Invercargill plant.WasteNet is a joint venture between the Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council, and Southland District Council.

Of the 120 people SDE employed, about 90 had disabilities.With an eight-year contract set to expire on June 30 next year, WasteNet announced it would not renew the contract and instead put it out for tender.

WasteNet spokesman Gary Tong said the two parties had not been able to reach an agreement, which prompted the tender process.

It had sparked a backlash from many in Southland who felt the contract should have been rolled over for another eight years.

Rochelle Stewart set up a petition which would be presented to the councils and, as of yesterday,  more than 7300 people had signed it.

Ms Stewart’s brother works at SDE and she said it would be devastating if the contract was not retained and he lost his job.

"It is so hard for them to find another job. It is his life, he loves going to work."

She hoped to reach 10,000 signatures before presenting the petition to councils.

Supporters of SDE believed the councils had a social responsibility to stay with the status quo and not just seek potential savings.

Invercargill Ratepayer Advocacy Group spokesman Nobby Clark voiced his support of SDE retaining the contract at a full Invercargill City Council meeting on Tuesday.

"Our ratepayers group has been getting significant feedback regarding WasteNet putting the Invercargill-based recycling station contract out for tender.

"It is a fair reflection that there is a level of anger similar to the museum closure," Mr Clark said.

"We feel that it is totally inappropriate to change the status of this contract from a community-based recycling contract, which embraces and includes an element of social impact by providing employment and community inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities, to one of just financial costings."

- Logan Savory

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