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Ministers need total rethink on MFAT restructure

PSA Media Release
22 March 2012
For Immediate Release
Ministers need total rethink on MFAT restructure – PSA

The government must start completely afresh on its plans for change at MFAT, after unions comprehensively rejected its restructuring proposals, the PSA says.

"The proposals would have critically damaged the Ministry as it strives to protect New Zealand's interests overseas," says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

"We are also concerned about the way the attempted restructure has been carried out. Staff have been consulted only at the end of the process, when they should have been involved from the beginning – which might have avoided the current situation.

"The Minister's letter to his chief executive, in which he appears to announce that key elements of the proposed reforms have been discarded, just adds to the confusion about who is in charge of this process and where it is going.”

At a meeting with MFAT chief executive John Allen today, the PSA and the other union representing MFAT staff, the FSA, together spelt out a clear alternative that articulates the ideas and commitment of foreign service staff.

"We have presented a carefully thought-through and professional submission, which shows deep concern for the work that MFAT does and a desire to make sure it is done as effectively and efficiently as possible in future.

"Our proposals represent a complete rejection of the attempted restructuring, both the process and the proposals.

"In particular, we believe that the focus of restructuring has been too much on cutting staff numbers as a 'quick fix'. There is room to look at potential savings in range of non-personnel areas, including IT and travel, and those should be explored first, " says Brenda Pilott.

"We are also still seeking clarification about where the change process is at. While we welcome John Allen's statement today that there will be ‘substantive changes’ to the proposals, we believe that does not go far enough. Given the comprehensive rejection of the proposed restructuring, MFAT management have no option but to go back to the drawing board."

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