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Ministry for the Environment staff told redundancies 'likely'

Azaria Howell,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Apr 2024, 2:53pm

Ministry for the Environment staff told redundancies 'likely'

Azaria Howell,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Apr 2024, 2:53pm

Workers at the Ministry for the Environment have been told redundancies are “likely” as public service agencies slash costs in response to the Government’s aim to find $1.5 billion savings per annum.

Agencies are tasked with finding savings between 6.5 and 7.5 per cent to trim off their budgets, which, at numerous ministries, is resulting in proposals putting jobs on the line. The Environment Ministry needs to slash 7.5 per cent off its books, with final sign-off to be made by the Government in relation to the upcoming Budget next month.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has opened at the ministry, with no set target for uptake. It comes after a similar scheme at the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment saw 111 people accepted for voluntary redundancy, with a further voluntary redundancy scheme being put in place.

MfE deputy secretary of Business Transformation and Services Laura Dixon said staff have been told redundancies are likely and the organisation “will need to reduce in size”.

Voluntary redundancies will be open for the next 11 days - with no specific target for uptake. It will be available to all employees at the ministry, unlike the Ministry for Primary Industries, which is only permitting some roles to potentially face the axe.

Dixon added it was a challenging time for staff, saying the ministry’s goal is to keep them “informed and supported throughout the upcoming change”.

She confirmed the ministry prepared for a predicted decline in its baseline from June last year, as time limited funding and a number of reforms came to an end. Recruitment controls were put in place at the time, and the size of senior leadership roles decreased.

Dixon added the ministry’s executive leadership team, Te Pūrengi, will have final say on whether any expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy are approved.

The Public Service Association, a union representing public servants, fears the cuts risk New Zealand’s ability to manage environmental challenges.

PSA National Secretary Duane Leo is accusing the Government of putting “tax cuts ahead of the environment”.

Leo added the PSA supports voluntary redundancies as it allows members to “control their own futures,” and leave if they wish to. Union members have reportedly been asking for a voluntary redundancy scheme, knowing cost-saving directives are on their way.

Leo said the work the ministry does it “vitally important,” in the wake of climate change and amidst severe weather.

Callaghan Innovation is also expected to announce cost-saving measures today.

Azaria Howell is a Wellington-based multimedia reporter with an eye across the region. She joined NZME in 2022 and has a keen interest in city council decisions, public service agency reform, and transport.

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