AgResearch is planning another round of redundancies amid
accusations it is monitoring the communications of ''less than
compliant'' staff members.
An email to staff from chief executive Dr Tom Richardson
leaked to the Otago Daily Times said about 22
fulltime-equivalent (FTE) science staff in ''declining
areas'' would be affected. Roughly 10 new FTEs would be
needed in growth areas, in addition to 11 existing vacancies.
Separately, the ODT has been told two further staff
have left its Invermay campus, with one taking up a position
at the University of Otago, and that AgResearch has been
monitoring work emails and telephone records to gather
information on ''less than compliant'' staff.
In the internal email Dr Richardson said the cuts were
''completely unrelated'' to its restructuring plan - which
includes slashing 69 jobs at Invermay and shifting them north
''The rationale for any changes proposed will be based on
strategic science needs and perceived demand, and we will be
continuing to review non-science areas to ensure that we have
the most efficient support for our science teams.''
He acknowledged recent events had been tough for some staff.
''I appreciate this is a difficult time for many staff and
that it comes on top of things such as last year's
disappointing contestable science funding results and Future
Former Invermay director Jock Allison said the cutbacks were
probably because AgResearch was ''running out of money''
after failing to pick up enough research funding.
However, dumping top-quality staff - such as Dr Julie
Everett-Hincks - was not the answer and would only make
attracting funding even more difficult.
''There are many good people with PhDs being dumped and they
are the people that will attract research funds.''
The mood at Invermay and the rest of AgResearch was at the
point where it would be affecting the organisation's ability
to attract new staff as the best candidates would probably be
aware of the situation, he said.
Dunedin North Labour MP Dr David Clark said the cuts were
symptomatic of management's failure to run the organisation
properly and manage risks.
It was clear AgResearch was failing in its bid to retain
staff ahead of restructuring, Dr Clark said.
There was a ''climate of fear'' at Invermay and he had been
told AgResearch had been monitoring staff communications to
prevent people from speaking out ''right from the very
start'' when restructuring was announced.
An AgResearch spokeswoman said it had begun a review so it
could more effectively meet the needs of the agricultural
sector - ''this involves growing capabilities where there are
new opportunities and it also involves reducing areas where
there are declining needs.''
Asked about the monitoring of staff, she said: ''In line with
all major public and private organisations, AgResearch IT
policy states the company reserves the right to monitor
It declined to respond to questions on departures from
Invermay as it did not comment on ''individual staff