Tired Christchurch council workers earn extra day off
By Tom McRae
Most Cantabrians would appreciate an extra day off a month after working through the quakes, and that's exactly what the Christchurch City Council has done for their employees.
Two thousand council workers are getting the perk, but it hasn’t gone down well with the city’s residents. And with a recent rates rise it has ignited a storm of controversy, with business leaders saying it will cost the council millions.
Council boss Tony Marryatt introduced the extra leave to ease stress on overworked employees.
In an email to staff, Mr Marryatt said: "Keeping our city going and rebuilding it at the same time remains a marathon, not a sprint, and pacing ourselves for the job right now, and the job ahead, is absolutely crucial".
And it's not a first for council workers: they've already had an extra six days of paid leave since the February quake.
“I think it's a good, sensible, humanitarian idea at a time when this organisation, above many others in the city, is faced with a great deal of stress,” says Christchurch mayor Bob Parker.
But business leaders disagree, saying it will cost up to $6 million in lost productivity.
“You don't go carte blanche and give thousands of staff members a day off a month for a year ahead just because you think they're tired,” says Peter Townsend of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.
But Mr Parker says staff deserve the break.
“Our people are tired, we're starting to lose staff and to replace staff, retraining staff is an expensive process, and we want to reward them for their hard work.”
What has also struck people as unfair is the workers on the front line repairing the infrastructure of the fractured city aren't included, as they work for a council-owned company.
The extra days off for those that are eligible are already locked in and will run until next November.