Correspondence with Mayor of Dunedin - Two.
2 April 1998
The Mayor of Dunedin
Mrs S Turner
P.O. Box 5045
Dear Mayor Turner,
The Centre would like to raise with you the matter of the Dunedin City Council participating in employment schemes such as Task Force Green.
As you will be aware these schemes make available to the Council the full time services of employees who are subsidised by the taxpayer.
While the senior staff members sign declarations to the effect that the work would not be done but for the existence of such schemes, the Centre has access to concrete evidence of at least one Task Force Green project carried out by the DCC that was a requirement of statute law - and potential access to evidence of another.
The third condition of the agreement for Task Force Green states:
|"That the employer declares that the project would not have been undertaken
but for Taskforce Green."
It also has access to evidence that a certain amount of the work done is necessary administration work that could not be left forever undone. This latter point raises the question of the true motives of the Council in taking part in such schemes.
As you will be aware project employees are paid low salaries, typically only some two thirds of the average wage, and are treated as second class human beings by the Council.
For example why do such people have to wait for six months to qualify for sick leave? The law allows employers to do this, but it lacks psychological verisimilitude to claim that all new Council employees have to wait six months for sick leave. Is the health of one the Councils "core" staff members of greater value than the health of a project employee?
The Centre finds disturbing the concept of a democratically elected body exploiting one section of the citizens it exists to serve, in order to improve the living standards of the remainder of its citizens. It does this by saving money on the cost of staff and so contributes to keeping household rates down. This cold, purposeful exploitation of human beings is the kind of behaviour that one normally associates with totalitarianism
The Centre also regrets the patronising and misleading attitude adopted toward the unemployed by the Dunedin City Council which it does by claiming that by exploiting these people it is actually "helping" them regain full employment. If the Council genuinely considered that it had a role to play in respect of the unemployment problem in Dunedin, it would give project employees full employment status doing the work the senior staff members say has to be done. The fact that it does not, indicates, in the opinion of the Centre, a psychological need on the part of those in power to compensate for their own inadequacies by establishing an inferior group over which they can be seen to be superior.
It is the view of the Centre that the Dunedin City Council should desist from exploiting a section of the citizens it exists to serve and to only offer employment by means of the normal principled and respectable means one would expect from an elected authority in a Western democracy.
It appears to be the case that the Dunedin City Council is using work schemes to obtain cheap labour - rather than employing people on the open market - to carry out its activities whether they be statutory obligations or the day to day work of the organisation.
Before taking the matter of any possible breaches of the law any further - as the Centre presently intends to do - it would be very much appreciated if you could bring to the attention of the Centre any information which you think may allay its concerns.
J M STEVENSON (Mr)
7 April 1998
J M Stevenson
7 McCurdy Street
Dear Mr Stevenson
Thank you for your letter, which makes some serious allegations regarding the
Dunedin City Council's role in the Task Force Green employment scheme.
I have given a copy of your letter to the Chief Executive, Murray Douglas, for his
comment. He has asked that you provide more precise on exactly what your evidence
is before the Dunedin City Council can take it further.
I believe that ratepayers funds that have been expended in the area of increasing
employment in our city are well meaning and done for the right reasons. We have, in
the last 18 months, put time and effort into successfully achieving 400 plus placements
for our youth.
I look forward to receiving precise information from you as soon as possible.
MAYOR OF DUNEDIN