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Public Administration News  
New Zealand: Public Service Shrinkage Won’t Fix Economy
Source: psa
Source Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: New Zealand
Created: Oct 25, 2011

Public service job cuts do nothing to solve New Zealand’s economic woes, but they do make life harder for those who rely on them, says the PSA. The public sector union was responding to the State Services Commission’s latest Human Resource Capability Survey of Public Service Departments, which shows record year-on-year public service job losses and redundancies since the National-led Government came to power in November 2008. Some 959 public service jobs were slashed and 882 people were made redundant in the year to 30 June 2011. “These job losses reduce the capability of the public service, create unsustainable workloads and throw hundreds of skilled, knowledgeable workers onto the scrapheap,” says PSA Acting National Secretary Jeff Osborne. “The expertise that goes out the door with these workers can’t be recovered. The Government talks about balancing its books and belt- tightening, but there’s no mention of reversing last year’s tax cuts which were worth about $5.5 billion and mostly benefitted the well-off or people who don’t rely on public services. We know from past experience, that when public service departments are carrying out their duties under strain, the results can be disastrous. The present Government’s on-going erosion of public services ignores the lessons of the past. Workload surveys and anecdotal accounts from our members show that public servants are gifting millions of unpaid hours in order to support stretched departments. In less than three years more than 2,400 jobs have gone from public service departments and crown entities like Maritime New Zealand. Combined with thousands of unfilled departmental vacancies – often a cover for job cuts  – the losses amount to 5,500. This level of inadequate resourcing and increased demand risks negative consequences. The loss of permanent positions has seen a rise in fixed term appointments with 43 percent of new staff in the public service now on fixed-term contracts. As well as undermining the public service ethos, this can be more costly in the long-run. This year’s HRC survey also shows little progress on a shameful 14.3 average gender pay gap within the public service, despite the workforce being predominantly made up of women. The ethnic pay gap is even more shocking, with Pacific people’s pay dragging 19 percent behind that of non-Pacific people and Asian and Maori people being paid 11 percent less than non-Asian and non-Maori. With wage movement continuing to fall behind the private sector, no job security from fixed-term contracts, mounting workloads and lack of progress on ethnic and gender pay issues, the public service is in danger of putting off a new generation of talent at the starting line,” says Jeff Osborne.

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