550 contact tracers wake up to no work

Source: 1News

Five-hundred and fifty-two contact tracers woke on Friday morning to find they were out of work.

A tracer who wanted to remain anonymous was one of those who received this message at 8.15am. It read:

"Ch ch ch changes ....Or...so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye....(just for you Thomas!). Ata marie General

I'd love to be starting the day with...' we have a busy day ahead'. Not today…as you will all be aware, following Government's announcement yesterday, with NZ moving to Omicron Phase 3, our wee world of DC calling has come to an end. We can't thank you enough for your amazing work."

The woman was due to start work at 9am.

“I hadn’t got confirmation yet of a shift. So, I checked by phone kind of to a Facebook post saying your job's gone.”

The shift to Phase Three means people testing positive no longer receive a phone call; instead, they are notified by text message.

They're then expected to notify their contacts themselves.

The post was to an internal group at CBG Health Research, the Ministry of Health’s primary case investigation firm.

A MOH spokesperson said no one has been given a notice of termination.

“The message refers to the long anticipated and foreshadowed move to Phase Three and with it a shift in focus to case management."

The woman worked as a disease contact caller for a year, and the job was her main source of income.

She says the news came out of the blue.

“I spoke to my manager last week who said not to worry, that there’s plenty of work for us."

“Not that long ago we were being asked to recruit more people.”

She understands the need for change, saying "we weren't even keeping up with the amount of calls we had to do versus the amount of people we had".

But what caught her off-guard, was the title of the message.

"I just thought I worked here for a year and to wake up and see that’s how they’re going to title a message basically telling you you’ve lost your job is incredibly unprofessional."

Covid-19 testing centre in Auckland.

1News contacted CBG but is yet to hear back.

The woman said there was mention of 50 jobs available in case investigation, but that this would still leave 500 people jobless.

“I think it [contact tracing] did have to go but not instantly, overnight, you don’t have a job."