7 Apr 2016

100 jobs could go in Chorus change, union says

6:47 pm on 7 April 2016

A union fears 100 technicians could lose their jobs after Chorus announced it is changing the contractor it uses for ultra-fast broadband (UFB) installations in the lower North Island.

Chorus said today Downer would no longer roll out fibre in Wellington, Kapiti Coast and Manawatu. The work will instead be done by Visionstream, which itself sub-contracts out the work.

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Photo: RNZ

Chorus said it expected some Downer employees would be affected, but might end up being hired by Visionstream.

"We have had such a high demand for fibre in the Wellington region that we need to make changes to ensure consumers are connected to fibre much quicker than is currently the case," said Chorus' customer services general manager Nick Woodward.

"Chorus and Downer have made this joint decision in the best interests of consumers."

Up to 100 workers could lose their jobs, E Tū union's industry co-ordinator Joe Gallagher said.

There would also be an inevitable dip in quality as less experienced workers take on the contracts, he said.

"The contractor sets these guys up - one man, one van - all risk, responsibility and health and safety falls with these guys.

"This is a disgraceful model to drive into New Zealand."

It was likely there would be an influx of migrant workers into the industry to meet the demand, Mr Gallagher said.

Visionstream will take over in May, while Downer has still retained its contract for much of the rest of the country.