Vbase shedding hundreds of positions

12:36 pm on 18 June 2011

The equivalent of 151 full-time jobs, including the chief executive's position, have been lost at Christchurch event management company Vbase, along with hundreds of casual jobs.

The Christchurch City Council-owned company, which runs four of the city's main venues, is being downsized because of the earthquakes and mounting debt.

Vbase will shed 151 of 218 full-time-equivalent positions, leaving just 67 full-time-equivalent staff.

The council is taking direct control of the company and its venues - Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Town Hall for Performing Arts, AMI Stadium and CBS Canterbury Arena.

The first three facilities cannot operate due to serious earthquake damage. The Arena reopened in March.

Mayor Bob Parker says the decision to downsize has a one-off cost of $1.4 million - including redundancy payments - and fixed overhead cost savings of $3.8m a year.

Hundreds affected

In a statement, Vbase said: "Prior to the earthquake, Vbase hosted more than 1800 events annually across the four venues. At that time the Vbase team comprised 218 full-time equivalent staff, made up of 99 full-time positions, 96 part-time and 666 casuals.

"Following confirmation of the change proposal, 45 full-time positions have become redundant effective 30 June 2011, while part-time/casual hours have reduced in line with the dramatic reduction in event numbers.

"The restructured organisation now comprises 67 full-time equivalent staff, of which 54 are full-time positions."

The Vbase statement says its board, chief executive and five senior managers have become redundant with the council assuming governance and management control.

Many 'will find new jobs'

Service and Food Workers Union organiser Simon des Baux says about 300 casual Vbase staff belong to the union, and many are struggling.

Vbase chief executive Bryan Pearson told Checkpoint he is confident many of the redundant staff will find new jobs in Christchurch, but could not provide specifics on how many that might be, or when.

The transition to council direct control is expected to take two to three months. Mr Pearson says he, the board, and senior management are committed to supporting the Vbase team through the process.

He says he is "enormously proud" of the team, many of whom have already suffered loss of some kind in their private lives because of the quakes, but have shown "remarkable dignity and compassion at this difficult time".

The Vbase statement says while AMI Stadium is expected to reopen in stages throughout 2012, there is continuing uncertainty about the future of the Town Hall and the Convention Centre, which will remain closed until at least the end of 2013.

"Assessments are continuing, and reassessment is required as a result of the large aftershocks on Monday 13 June."