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Maharey urges wider Winz probe

2000 web siteAn outpouring of complaints from Winz staff means the State Services Commission must extend its investigation to include all aspects of management, Labour social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey said today.

Mr Maharey has released examples of letters he has received from Winz staff to support his claim that the department's problems go much deeper than the $165,000 charter flight controversy.

"The problems stem from the ill-conceived merger of the Income Support Service, the New Zealand Employment Service, the Community Employment Group and the local employment committees.

"These were, and remain, very different organisations. However, it is the Income Support culture and senior management who dominate.

"Led by Christine Rankin the organisation is being driven towards a style that staff simply do not support and feel is being imposed on them. Staff say what the public sees - that Winz is all glitz and no substance.

"They see the staff training conferences as largely useless. They dislike the upmarket style of management and they worry that nothing is being achieved for beneficiaries.

"For example, they have been told that the job placement performance targets for the new organisation are half those of the former Employment Service. There are many other complaints of this kind.

"If it was just a few people contacting my office, I would put it down to sour grapes during a period of major transition. But the outpouring of letters, telephone calls, faxes and e-mails I am receiving from staff - despite the fact they fear reprisals - means the government and State Services Commission must be encouraged to bring Mrs Rankin to heel.

That will ensure the organisation can get back on the rails and provide the service the country wants," Mr Maharey said.

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