Friday, April 12, 2024

Jobs cull gets underway at Ministry

Neal Wallace
Consultations begin at MPI to cut hundreds of positions as per govt savings request.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Ministry for Primary Industries has started consulting staff on proposals that will see hundreds of jobs lost as it aims to trim its workforce by 9%.

The coalition government has asked the MPI to finding savings of 7.5% in the coming financial year and initial proposals released to staff this week will result in a net reduction of 384 positions, of which about 40% are currently vacant.

In a message to staff from MPI director-general Ray Smith, he says in the past five years the MPI head count has increased by more than 1100.

As at June 30 last year, MPI employed more than 3800 people.

In his letter, Smith says the proposals will not result in any reduction to frontline services and statutory roles such as veterinarians, animal welfare, fishery and food compliance officers or biosecurity teams at the border. 

“However, we are proposing changes to roles and reporting lines in other areas of MPI, including the disestablishment of some positions. 

“Importantly, we will seek to place as many affected people as possible into alternative roles.”

The proposal also includes reducing staff through a mix of not filling existing vacancies and disestablishing other roles.

It plans to merge similar functions to increase efficiency, align workstreams and teams to deliver on the government’s priorities, ensure the sustainability of programmes and services and deliver administrative and management efficiencies.

Smith says senior leaders have also identified savings through reduced use of contractors and consultants and leaving some positions unfilled.

“Beyond this, we have been looking at both the programme and people resource costs of our operations.”

Smith says its search for savings will ensure the MPI continues to deliver its core function, but with great efficiency.

The extra 1100 staff employed in the past five years were across the department.

“These roles have been in areas across our biosecurity system, in regional on-the-ground support, in policy and trade to help work through complex issues and across our regulatory systems in areas including compliance, fisheries, animal welfare, food safety and the NAIT system to protect our sector’s $57.4 billion export earnings and New Zealand’s excellent reputation.”

Consultation with staff began today and will run through until April 9 with final decisions, following staff input, expected by mid-May.

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