AgResearch refuses to put plan on hold

AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson has shot down a request, backed by three-quarters of union members, to put its restructuring plan on hold.

The revelation was included in a leaked Public Service Association (PSA) report on a meeting with Dr Richardson held on Tuesday.

The PSA asked for the meeting due to staff concerns about AgResearch's Future Footprint Plan, which includes slashing about 75 jobs from its Invermay campus.

The report revealed three-quarters of PSA members voted in favour of a motion calling on AgResearch to put restructuring on hold and improve its engagement with staff.

Dunedin North Labour MP Dr David Clark said the leaked report showed AgResearch was continuing to ignore staff concerns and its promise of consultation was ''farce''.

''Worse than that, it shows that they are not managing the number one risk that they identified in their business case, which was the retention of staff.''

It was significant that staff from across the organisation, including Grasslands and Lincoln which are to be expanded as part of the plan, were among those who voted on the motion.

''It's extraordinary that this level of discontent is across all of the organisation,'' he said.

An AgResearch spokesman said it was having ''ongoing and constructive discussions with staff, stakeholders and PSA representatives'', but it would not be conducting them ''through the media''.

''We will continue working with our staff and partners throughout the design and implementation phases to build world-class science innovation hubs, ensure business continuity, and support and retain our staff.''

The PSA report said Dr Richardson ''listened closely and asked questions'' when listening to delegates going over staff concerns about restructuring.

The PSA would meet its AgResearch members next month where it would provide a ''full report'' of the meeting and discuss a ''strategy for further engagement'' with AgResearch.

The document revealed PSA was looking beyond trying to stop AgResearch's plan and focusing on ways to find a ''win-win'' outcome for both staff and AgResearch.

''We are looking closely at the transfer support package as a tangible and urgent area to work on,'' the report told members.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

 

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