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Troubled Defence Force could become industrial battleground

31 January 2013

Troubled Defence Force could become industrial battleground
The Public Service Association is warning there will be no improvement in morale at the New Zealand Defence Force until there is a willingness to address high attrition rates and improve pay and conditions for civilian staff.

The Auditor General has released a highly critical report saying restructuring and cutbacks have led to a drop in morale and capability.

The PSA which represents civilian staff says pushing military personnel into civilian positions as part of a hasty, top-down restructure, has created a number of problems.

“Military staff who have been part of the civilianisation process have seen their pay and terms of conditions eroded, and there have been large numbers of resignations. The result is that remaining staff are facing unreasonably high workloads and demands and, as the Auditor-General has pointed out, that has led to a reduction in Defence Force capability,” says PSA Assistant Secretary Basil Prestidge.

“The government is trying to make savings through changing military personnel into civilian staff which signals that the civilian workforce is underpaid. With more and more staff becoming civilianised the Defence Force should be seeking to remedy that as a matter of priority.”

The PSA is currently in collective agreement negotiations with the Defence Force and says senior civilian management have put a zero percent pay rise on the table and have shown an unwillingness to negotiate on that.

“Defence Force staff have been through a very difficult restructuring process and it’s no secret that morale is at rock bottom. Many have not had a pay rise in real terms for about five years. They deserve to be valued and have an expectation that they will see improvement in their pay and conditions,” Basil Prestidge says.

‘If the Defence Force wants to improve morale and retain staff it needs to address these issues, otherwise it will simply add to its woes by ending up with an industrial battle on its hands.”


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