550 contact tracers wake up without work
Five hundred and fifty-two contact tracers woke up Friday morning to find they were out of work.
A tracer who wished to remain anonymous is among those who received this message at 8.15am. He read:
“Ch ch ch change …. Or … so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye …. (just for you Thomas!). Ata marries General
I would love to start the day with… ‘we have a busy day ahead’. Not today… as you all know, following the government announcement yesterday, with New Zealand moving into Omicron Phase 3, our little world of DC calls has come to an end. We can’t thank you enough for your incredible work.”
The woman had to start work at 9 am.
“I had not yet had confirmation of a change. So, I checked over the phone for some kind of Facebook post saying your job was gone.
Moving to phase three means people who test positive no longer receive phone calls; instead, they are notified by SMS.
They are then required to inform their contacts themselves.
The post was from an internal group at CBG Health Research, the Department of Health’s main case investigation company.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said no one had received notice of dismissal.
“The message refers to the long-awaited and heralded move to phase three and with it a shift in focus to case management.”
The woman worked for a year as a sick caller, and this work was her main source of income.
She says the news came out of the blue.
“I spoke to my manager last week who told me not to worry, there was plenty of work for us.”
“Not so long ago we were being asked to recruit more people.”
She understands the need for change, saying “we weren’t even tracking how many calls we had to make versus how many people we had”.
But what caught her off guard was the title of the post.
“I just thought I’d worked here for a year and waking up and seeing this is how they’re going to title a message basically telling you you’ve lost your job is incredibly unprofessional.”
1News has contacted CBG but has yet to receive a response.
The woman said there was talk of 50 jobs being available in the investigation into the case, but that would still leave 500 people out of work.
“I think so [contact tracing] had to leave but not instantly, overnight you don’t have a job.”