No response on staff loss

AgResearch is yet to provide estimates of how many staff will be lost as a result of restructuring, despite a request from Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce.

Documents released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) this week showed Mr Joyce and the ministry had concerns over the risk that AgResearch staff might refuse to move.

A document from September showed Mr Joyce was seeking ''estimates of staff retention through the change process and identification of key staff that are likely to be lost to the New Zealand science system''.

AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson said it was yet to provide any estimates to the minister, as final numbers would not be known until closer to the time of the planned staff relocations in 2016-17.

''We have not provided any estimates of staff retention, but have a range of models which gave the impacts of different staff retention rates, and the costs associated with those different rates.''

Asked if staff retention had been overlooked in its Future Footprint business case, Dr Richardson said: ''No. It was an important part of the business case and it continues to be a key focus for us.''

This was despite an MBIE official telling Mr Joyce in December last year: ''Staff retention and capability is not discussed in detail [in the business case] and represents a significant business risk.

"You may wish to ask what staff turnover is forecast, the basis for this estimate, and how the risk will be mitigated.''

Dr Richardson said 75 jobs were expected to move from Invermay, down from the ''about 80'' previously reported.

An AgResearch spokeswoman said the change was due to a number of factors, including redundancies planned prior to restructuring.

No ''science staff'' had left AgResearch as a result of the Future Footprint plan, with a member of its IT team in Hamilton the only staff member who had cited the plan as a reason for leaving.

A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said he had ''nothing further to add to what he said [on Tuesday]''.

''He is being briefed regularly by AgResearch on a range of matters and will continue to test their proposals thoroughly as their plans continue to evolve,'' the spokeswoman said.

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

 

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