Union fails to negotiate better casino redundancy deal

5:11 pm on 8 April 2011

A union representing Christchurch Casino staff has met with employers on Friday but has failed to negotiate a better redundancy package.

About 500 people have been out of work since an earthquake on 22 February damaged the casino building inside one of the cordoned-off zones in the city.

The casino company says that, due to uncertainty about when it can reopen, it is unable to continue paying workers.

Several workers Radio New Zealand News spoke to on Friday morning said the current redundancy offer of four weeks' pay is unsatisfactory and that they deserve more respect.

The Service and Food Workers Union says its members want management to pay workers a full wage until the casino re-opens.

The union with casino management on Friday afternoon, but was unable to increase the compensation offer.

Union spokesperson Len Richards says the union and casino have agreed to lobby the Government for wage subsidies for staff who want to stay on until they can be re-employed.

The workers have until Monday to decide whether to take redundancy or go on leave without pay until the casino reopens.

The union is also calling on the Government to produce an employment recovery plan for Christchurch workers with the full participation of unions and other interested community groups.

Mr Richards says Christchurch is facing unemployment on a scale not seen since the Great Depression and the Government is responsible for looking after those who have lost jobs.

A group of about 70 casino employees attended the meeting on Friday afternoon. Employee Sue Wilson told the meeting the loss of income has affected all staff financially and emotionally.

Building assessed

Engineers and contractors are assessing the casino building on Friday and chief executive Brett Anderson expects to hear back from them on Monday.

Mr Anderson says the building was originally given a yellow sticker and expects most of the damage to be superficial.

However, the timing of the casino reopening also depends on the state of surrounding buildings.