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TVNZ job cuts: E tū union argues against change proposals, criticises ‘complete lack of positive vision’

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The union representing workers at Television New Zealand has pushed back on the state-owned broadcaster’s proposal to cut jobs and news programmes.

Television New Zealand (TVNZ) last Thursday announced 68 jobs could go and the Sunday, Fair Go, Midday and Tonight news shows could be dumped.

E tū, the union for media company employees, wrote to TVNZ on behalf of its members raising concerns about the proposal process and a lack of consultation with staff.

“Union members … feel their experience and expertise simply wasn’t utilised, which is obviously going to lead to a flawed proposal,” E tū negotiations specialist Michael Wood said.

Michael Wood from E tū outside the TVNZ building after a meeting where staff found out their fate. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Michael Wood from E tū outside the TVNZ building after a meeting where staff found out their fate. Photo / Jason Oxenham

“There’s no use in proposing radical changes like this without exploring other options first.”

Wood, a former government minister, said affected workers had new ideas and perspectives “with real merit” that TVNZ management should have sought at the beginning of the process.

“It’s really quite dangerous in any business, and especially one as important as a national media platform, to dictate a top-down approach in the face of challenges. It simply does not, and will not, work,” Wood said.

TVNZ confirmed receipt of the letter and said it had no comment to make.

Wood said union members wanted more information about TVNZ’s decision-making and questioned why it would cut successful shows.

“We don’t understand how they can cut shows that continue to be a commercial success.

“We asked for the relevant background information, including the broader financial information, so we can make informed recommendations,” he said.

“Importantly, we need to know what their overall vision is. It has been incredibly disappointing to see a complete lack of a positive vision for the future of TVNZ and its important and unique role as a media platform.”

The union’s approach was to save jobs and to protect the future of all NZ, Wood said.

TVNZ chief executive Jodi O’Donnell. Photo / Dean Purcell
TVNZ chief executive Jodi O’Donnell. Photo / Dean Purcell

The union would launch a public campaign so people could show their support for quality news and current affairs, he said.

“We are all stakeholders here, because it’s about telling everyone’s stories and holding power to account.

“It’s time for us to get up and tell the decision-makers exactly how important a well-functioning media landscape is for all us.”

TVNZ’s chief executive Jodi O’Donnell defended the cuts last week and said they had considered all options.

“We’ve had a look at all our options. I’ve been open about the fact there are no ‘sacred cows’ and we need to find ways to stop doing some things because we need to cut costs,” she told Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan.

O’Donnell said TVNZ’s operating model was more expensive than the revenue it was making.

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.



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