Ministry of Fisheries may cut jobs

The Ministry of Fisheries is proposing to cut eight management jobs in Dunedin as part of nationwide changes to its "organisational design" to "better meet the expectations of a new Government".

The proposal, released to staff for consultation yesterday, suggests cutting the ministry's planned staff numbers of 478 by 29 full-time equivalent jobs - mostly by centralising fisheries management positions in Wellington and Auckland.

It would save the ministry $500,000 a year, or 0.5% of its $100 million budget.

Labour state services spokesman Grant Robertson said the move would result in poorer services in the regions.

Ministry chief executive Wayne McNee said Dunedin was one of the centres most affected by the proposed changes, on which staff have three weeks to comment.

He would make a decision on June 12.

The Dunedin office had 19 full-time equivalent fishery managers, and the proposal suggests that be cut to 11. Nelson and Napier were other regional centres affected by the proposal.

The proposed changes would help the ministry better deliver on the expectations of the Government and focus particularly on realising economic development gains and improving efficiency, he said.

This meant more standards would be set at a national level rather than at a regional one, he said.

Regional plans already in development such as the Foveaux oyster bed plan and southern shellfish plan would become the basis for national plans.

"There will still be a degree of engagement, but not as much. There will have to be more focus and effort to get input [from regions]."

The number of fishery surveillance and investigator roles and their locations would not change.

Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff said the union was concerned the restructuring and cutting of positions might have a negative impact on the vital work of the ministry and reduce the level of consultation with those involved in fishing.

"We fear that the restructuring proposal will result in redundancies, but it is unclear how many there will be at this stage."

Mr Robertson said the cuts came as more than 1000 jobs were on the "chopping block" in the public service.

In this case, the Government was cutting staff in the regions who worked directly with communities and replacing them with a small central team in Wellington.

"That is not moving people to the frontline, and will result in poorer services for the public."

Local communities should have their needs met locally. Now, recreational fishers, iwi and communities would have to contact Wellington to discuss their local issues.

So far, the Tertiary Education Commission, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Health, National Library, State Services Commission, Ministry of Social Development, Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Fisheries, had either cut jobs or signalled their intention to do so, he said.


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