Thursday, June 23, 2011

Restructuring the Public Service

Before the Labour Party came to power in 1984, a job gained in the public service became a career for life unless you committed some henious crime. Richard Prebble, Roger Douglas and Phil Goff destroyed that security for ever. Whole departments, such as the NZ Forest Service, were disbanded. The way the staff were treated, especially those who lost out, was abysmal. The legacy was a cohort of embittered former forestry people, many of whom still struggle with modern life.

Another round of wholesale job losses occurred when the Labour Party came to power in 1999. Helen Clark was determined to end native forest logging on the West Coast. The forestry staff and contractors made redundant were treated as pariahs in an ugly political fight. The irony is that in both instances the Labour Party, the supposed "workers advocate", acted so callously towards their own.

Now we are about to see another wave of job losses as John Key's National Government takes it's turn to trim the public service. As New Zealand struggles to cope with the Global Financial Crisis, a reduced public sector is inevitable. Let's hope the Tories show more compassion than the Socialists. Workers who loose their jobs deserve the decency to be told how much their service is appreciated even though that work will not continue. Then help them to establish new careers elsewhere within or outside the public sector.

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