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Scaled back MFAT restructure no cause for celebration

17th May 2012

Scaled back MFAT restructure no cause for celebration - serious concerns remain

Unions representing staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade say there are still serious concerns about the impact of cutbacks, despite a scaled down restructuring plan.

The Ministry has released its final restructuring decisions and staff have been briefed.

The final plan has been scaled back but there will still be significant job losses.

The President of the Foreign Service Association Warren Fraser says while the number of job losses has been reduced from the original proposal, it’s still difficult to see so many positions and people being lost.

“These job losses will impact on staff workload and the delivery of foreign and trade policy and we know there are further cuts in the pipeline. It is uncertain whether a restructured Ministry can continue to deliver high quality outcomes for New Zealand."

“The restructuring process has already sparked an exodus of highly skilled and experienced staff. Staff morale is very low and we could see more people choosing to leave."

PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott says the scaled back restructuring plan reflects the level of opposition to the original plans.

“This is no cause for celebration. The fact is there are still about 80 jobs being lost including frontline foreign policy officers which will impact on the way MFAT functions and on those very important global and trading relationships. This is yet another indication that public sector restructuring is about cutting jobs, not about better public services."

Both unions are highly critical of how the entire restructuring process has been handled and question the unprecedented level of government interference.

“This has been a very difficult change management process which has led to deep levels of disaffection. A lot of damage has been done and it’s going to take a very long time for the Ministry and staff to recover from it,” says Warren Fraser.

Brenda Pilott says “this is undoubtedly the most chaotic public sector change process we’ve seen but it also shows that public servants are no longer prepared to just sit back and let the process be dictated to them without some level of pushback."

The FSA and the PSA say the government and others need to take a strong lesson from the whole MFAT restructuring process to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated.

ENDS

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