Immigration New Zealand is considering closing its Dunedin
office and contracting out work to a third-party provider,
placing six more jobs in the city in jeopardy.
Immigration New Zealand general manager Nicola Hogg yesterday
confirmed the office's closure was being considered as part
of a wider revamp of service delivery, to be rolled out over
the next three years.
Six staff, including one manager, were employed in the
Dunedin office and were being consulted about the change, she
The closure, if confirmed, was expected to take place by
October next year.
The proposal is the latest blow for employees in Dunedin,
following last month's news up to 23 jobs were to go at Delta
and job losses - affecting about 50 employees since last year
- within KiwiRail's Dunedin operations, including Hillside
Ms Hogg said it was hoped Dunedin staff affected by the
change could be deployed elsewhere within the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment.
"Redundancy is only considered as a last resort."
The closure - together with a proposal to shut another office
in Sydney, Australia - was part of a wider restructure to
improve customer services and consolidate visa
decision-making into fewer, larger hubs and satellite
offices, she said.
The offices in Dunedin and Sydney would be replaced by Visa
Application Centres acting as collection agents for visa
applications, she said.
The centres would be operated by specialist third-party
providers performing administrative tasks, but would not
provide immigration advice and would have no influence on the
outcome of an application for a New Zealand visa, she said.
Processing of all South Island visas, including those
submitted through the Dunedin centre, would be centralised at
Immigration NZ's Christchurch office, which would become a
processing hub. Existing arrangements were spread across a
large network that was expensive to operate and slow to
respond to changes, she said.
The future of "eight to 10" additional branch offices -
including two overseas - would also be reviewed, with final
decisions made during 2014 and 2015, she said.
The management structure of Immigration NZ's Visa Services
division - which employs about 1100 staff nationwide - was
also to be rejigged from July next year.
That would result in 66 branch, regional and immigration
manager roles disestablished, but the creation of 41 new
positions would mean overall job losses restricted to 25
positions, she said.
Public Service Association assistant secretary Basil
Prestidge said the "major shakeup" nationwide would cause
"yet more stress and uncertainty" for staff, but could also
see face-to-face services removed from communities "which
need them the most".
The revamp was being driven by the introduction of new
technology, but the extent of the proposed restructure had
taken staff by surprise, he said.
"While technological advances are inevitable, the push
towards online transactions and services throughout the
public sector is happening very quickly without any real
thought to the implications for the workforce or people
without computer access.
"There needs to be some clear planning."