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DOC job cuts will impact regional economies and conservation

PSA MEDIA RELEASE

September 6th, 2011

DOC job cuts will impact regional economies and conservation protection to communities

New details from the Department of Conservation (DOC) on job cuts first announced in July show punitive government budget cuts are squeezing DOC out of the regions, as they are other agencies.

Earlier today, DOC released a report that will see 96 jobs cut across the country; a move the PSA says will reduce the department’s ability to deliver on the conservation New Zealanders want and need.

“PSA members at DOC believe these changes will undermine the Department’ effectiveness rather than enhance it. Despite DOC following a model of conservation that closely involves and depends on communities, the changes in this review shift support services away from many communities, says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“The bulk of the jobs will go from four regional centres: Northland; Tongariro/Whanganui/Taranaki; Nelson/Marlborough, and Southland. Smaller centres need more jobs not less,” says Brenda Pilott.

The cuts are part of a 2009 budget cut which saw $54 million over four years slashed from the Department. More job losses are tipped for next year from the Department's conservancy and area offices. Like other government departments, DOC will also have to find the cost of employer contributions to KiwiSaver and the State Sector Retirement Saving Scheme.

“Ultimately, it’s the New Zealand public that loses out from these on-going cuts. Government departments cannot keep doing more with less. Like any other business there comes a time when they can only do less with less,” says Brenda Pilott.

“The PSA recognises that DOC is under significant budget pressures from a Government that does not value public services. Both staff and management are going to great lengths to work with what’s available, but this review appears to cut dangerously deep into DOC’s resources.

“Some of the proposed job cuts include technical staff who provide advice and support within their communities about the protection of places and species that New Zealanders value.

“DOC and other public service departments need to find efficiencies through different means other than the crudest one of cutting jobs. Our members at DOC recommended other ways to save money like: halt the Gallup employee engagement poll which costs over $60,000 each year, reduce travel and make more use of video conferencing technology, reduce the number of temporary or fixed-term employees before making permanent staff redundant, undertake an audit of building rents and locations, and finally, ask staff what else can be done.

“Getting rid of people who perform the roles that ensure services are delivered to communities should always be a last resort. The PSA will continue to push DOC to look for efficiencies in other areas before throwing its most valuable resource – its staff – onto the dole queue,” says Brenda Pilott.

ENDS

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