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Source: Public Service Association (PSA)

Union members condemn the Department of Internal Affair’s plans to slash jobs in Wellington and Auckland, replacing them with a significantly smaller number of roles based mostly in Christchurch.

The DIA restructure eliminates over a hundred jobs around New Zealand, and creates some others within the organisation. It proposes a net reduction of 22 jobs in Auckland and 58 team members in Wellington.

“Our members feel like they’ve been slapped in the face. Not so long ago they were essential workers, who risked exposing their families to a deadly illness in order to do their jobs. Now lockdown’s over and apparently the important functions they carried out are no longer needed,” says Erin Polaczuk, National Secretary of the Public Service Association.

“We will strongly advocate that our members come out of this change process with secure, permanent jobs that reflect their skills and career aspirations. New Zealand needs every public servant hard at work serving our community in these difficult times.”

It is unclear why DIA considers it necessary to ram ahead with this change proposal to a backdrop of global pandemic and economic turmoil, rather than postponing for more favourable conditions.

Instead of compelling workers to either take redundancy, compete for fewer roles or relocate to positions far away, the PSA argues DIA should work with other government agencies to ensure all staff are transferred to comparable roles in high need areas.

DIA plans to close its Manukau office entirely, a move the union says would have a negative affect on the local community.

“The Manukau DIA office is a significant local employer and closing it will hurt the community during an already difficult time. Many people in Manukau do not have reliable internet access, and benefit from being able to walk into a physical DIA office and get the help they need. This service is also helpful to migrants, the disabled and people for whom English is a second language,” says Ms Polaczuk.

“This is not a fair time to upend the lives of working people and jeopardise their ability to provide for their family. It’s not OK to tell a South Auckland woman that if she wants to remain employed she has to leave her extended family behind and move to Christchurch. It’s not good enough to leave dozens of Wellington workers to stare down an out of control rental crisis without secure employment.”