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SkyCity hoses down union claims over potential job losses

Thursday 17th October 2019

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SkyCity Entertainment Group has hosed down union claims that almost half its convention centre workforce was at risk, saying just eight jobs were affected by a consultation process. 

The casino operator said the looming closure of the convention centre and delayed opening of the new site meant there would be a period where no events would be held. Eight jobs were affected by the delay, and a spokeswoman said those roles have been either redeployed or offered redundancy. 

Unite Union representative senior organiser Joe Carolan said some senior managers had already been made redundant, and SkyCity was arranging to talk with the union about waged workers and how many jobs will be lost.  The union claimed as many as 100 were at risk. 

“It is a redundancy process. We are trying to get people transfers and stuff,” Unite Union senior organiser Joe Carolan said. He labelled the job losses a “shocking betrayal” given SkyCity had promised more jobs when the new convention centre was built. 

SkyCity said it still expected to take on more staff when the international convention centre was finally built. 

"When the NZICC, Horizon Hotel and ancillary facilities open, we expect our workforce will significantly increase, by around 800 additional roles, which will have a significant impact on New Zealand’s hospitality and tourism industry," a spokeswoman said.

The new build would be able to host conventions of around 3,000 people, and one-off events of up to 4,000 on its exhibition floor, a substantial increase from the 2,000 people it can currently accommodate.  

The new centre had originally been slated for the first quarter of this year, but delays from contractor Fletcher Building meant the current anticipated date is the second half of next year. The casino operator had noted about $40 million in liquidated damages when it announced its annual result. 

At the time, SkyCity said it was reviewing all its 2020 conference bookings due to the delays. 

SkyCity had agreed to host the IFLA World Library and Information Congress conference next year, but the event was postponed to 2022 due to the construction delays. The body for librarians meets every year and is holding its 2020 event in Dublin. 

SkyCity reported a 1.9 percent increase in normalised profit to $173 million this year, and had a cautious outlook for 2020 given wider economic and tourism conditions may deteriorate.

It continued to face pressure from unions which, under the SkyCity Employees Association banner, held strikes this week. Workers want SkyCity to pay more during nights and weekends when the casino is busiest. 

Shares of SkyCity last traded at $3.97, having risen 11.8 this year. 


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