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Biosecurity boost will simply restore frontline numbers

7 December 2012

Biosecurity boost will simply restore frontline numbers
The Public Service Association says additional biosecurity staff will simply restore frontline numbers to where they were four years ago.

The Minister of Primary Industries has welcomed the graduation of 46 new recruits who will go into quarantine and dog detection roles in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The PSA says while the extra capacity will make a big difference, the extra staff will be filling holes left by a series of restructures over the past few years.

“Border security services have undergone a lot of change due to restructuring and belt-tightening at the Ministry for Primary Industries and were very stretched due to what was a sinking lid policy on frontline jobs,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“For several months there was no dog inspection unit at Wellington Airport and there have been serious staff shortages in Christchurch and at the Auckland port because vacancies have not been filled after staff left.”

“These new employees will simply take staffing levels back to where they were four years ago and won’t solve staffing problems at single officer ports such as Nelson and New Plymouth where extra capacity is desperately needed.”

Richard Wagstaff says “there is a strong sense that this is a kneejerk response from the government to restore public confidence after a string of serious biosecurity breaches.”

The PSA also warns that the new staff will be walking into a difficult industrial environment with MPI walking out on collective agreement negotiations after refusing to address a number of claims and claw backs it had presented.

PSA members at MPI are taking industrial action by holding stop work meetings on December 19th and want to see a return to negotiations.


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