Labour says it is undemocratic to have public sector redundancies!

January 14th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Olivia Wannan at Stuff reports:

Older public servants have borne the brunt of recent government job cuts.

In the past two years, 412 government workers aged over 55 have been laid off, 42 per cent of the 970 redundancies in 10 agencies, figures released under the Official Information Act show.

Opponents say the loss is undermining the country’s democratic process.

Really?

The Public Service Association’s Brenda Pilott believed the Government initiative to condense levels of management was one factor behind the age skew.

“In that case, it is inevitable you’re going to be losing people who are in the older age group, as they’ve moved up into those middle and senior roles.”

So the Government is reducing the number of managers, and this is anti-democratic according to ?

It is a good reminder that Labour have opposed pretty much every spending reduction in the last five years, and under them we’d not be heading into surplus, but ever growing deficits.

Labour state services spokesperson Maryan Street said the figures showed the public sector had lost many of its most experienced employees.

“The Government is, I think, deliberately stripping out the institutional knowledge and experience of the public service.

“This leaves a workforce that is not going to challenge anything ministers do and that is one of the things the public service is there for . . . It’s not good for our democratic apparatus.”

So Labour think it is the job of the public sector to challenge Ministers, not assist them?

What is depressing is once again Labour conflates quantity and quality. They think more of something is automatically good.

About 2.5 per cent of all public servants at the nine government agencies were made redundant over the past two years.

2.5%? And Labour is calling it the end of democracy. Sigh.

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38 Responses to “Labour says it is undemocratic to have public sector redundancies!”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    I’d be a little bothered if the public service was using redundancy to effectively provide enhanced early retirement. A little hard to know without knowing the demographics of the state employees (e.g. if 42% were aged 55 and over). I have certainly seen this a lot where managers find it easier to use someone else’s money to go for the “easy” redundancy.

    Of course what the Nats SHOULD be doing is just getting rid of organisations. Everything with the word “Commission” in it could be disestablished tomorrow and I doubt Joe public would notice (I’d sell the Lotteries Commission rather than liquidate it…)

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  2. All_on_Red (1,582 comments) says:

    Labour and its Union stooges are just a bunch of self serving biased cunts. All they want to do is protect their own patch and they don’t give a shit about the rest of NZ.

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  3. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Let me translate this for you – Reducing the number of lifers in the public service reduces the union membership numbers and that impacts Labour party funding …. That’s all – no more no less – Just self serving Labour protecting the best interests of the Labour party at the expense of the tax payers. As always – Other peoples money is there for the use of the special entitled bunch.

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  4. flipper (4,060 comments) says:

    The silly PSA woman, Pilot, says:

    ” …This leaves a workforce that is not going to challenge anything ministers do and that is one of the things the public service is there for . . . It’s not good for our democratic apparatus.”

    I wonder whether the SSC’s Ian Rennie agrees with her. I suspect he would deny any such role for “his” employees.

    Perhaps one of the PSA trolls who appear here from time to time, could assist us?

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  5. Joanne (177 comments) says:

    It’s just political stuff. How can it be undemocratic? Redundancies happen all over the private sector, no one says its undemocratic.

    Another illogical statement. Yawn. Roll on Christmas 2014 when the election will be over.

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  6. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Greek public servants have a job for life, and it doesn’t seem to have done Greece any harm.

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  7. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    A job for life …. The great cornerstone of Labour party ideology … We see it in the party even where incompetent people hang in and block the development of talent and ruin the long term health of the party.

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  8. Reid (16,448 comments) says:

    So Labour think it is the job of the public sector to challenge Ministers, not assist them?

    If only it was, then we might finally stop getting so many bullshit pet projects that don’t work and never could. Seriously, where else could you possibly get a system where the final decision maker is an amateur whose main skillset consists of gilding the lily, as opposed to having actually worked in the ‘industry’ for their entire career and understanding every little nuance in it?

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  9. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Of all the things National should have done to remove the disproportionate power held by unions – blocking their free access to the workplace should be the first. Come on National – show some sack – stop being Labour lite.

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  10. flash2846 (284 comments) says:

    It doesn’t matter the lack of substance, facts or common sense when Labour make a statement; they grab the headline every time and how many foolish voters don’t look past that?

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  11. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    NZLP spokesthing Maryanne Street said making senior PS redundant drastically reduced the resource that experience offers.
    I call that total BS although well within the commercial understanding such a belief exhibits among the incompetent MPs of NZLP.

    Any Public servant with a modicom of genuine talent has long ago been employed in the real world of business.
    Whats left are the simple, poorly motovated, seat warmers who have zero to offer as a result of long service.

    Let 50% of the drones go and productive NZ would see no difference at all.

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  12. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    A younger relative of mine just resigned from his customer-facing job in a Govt department, because the management’s idea of improving efficiency is to just not let anyone take any leave for over a year, because there’s too much workload and not enough staff to do it. (I have suggested he look for work in the real world, will see what happens.)

    It sounds like culling the upper tiers is EXACTLY what some of these departments need; make room for people who will actually do the work.

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  13. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    In left speak, the word democratic is a synonym for socialism.

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  14. slijmbal (1,236 comments) says:

    @kiwigreg

    “I’d be a little bothered if the public service was using redundancy to effectively provide enhanced early retirement. A little hard to know without knowing the demographics of the state employees (e.g. if 42% were aged 55 and over). I have certainly seen this a lot where managers find it easier to use someone else’s money to go for the “easy” redundancy.”

    Hard to know a lot of things. The theory is sound in that in a large bureaucracy there are a number of, typically older, employees who are really just holding down a chair and they tend to be well paid purely through time served. If redundancies have a voluntary element, which is implied occurs in the article, then it’s often just a means for the better employees to get a financial handshake before heading off to another job or contracting back to their original employer. This has the opposite effect in that it tends to concentrate the ‘chair holders’. Especially as any mediocre 50+ year old is probably unemployable in this market.

    A lot of those would hopefully be managers based on age.

    There is also the matter of any redundancy amounts. If they’re substantial then it means any pay back in lowering the head count is put off for years and really means the exercise is a bit of a waste of time. With the ERA it pretty much guarantees a minimum go away amount (as it’s going to cost that to fight any claim) but that tends to be measured in salary months, which make the numbers work. At a guess it would be somewhere in between the minimum and the silly.

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  15. kowtow (8,468 comments) says:

    May or may not be relevant but I’ll give it a shot as it’s certainly topical……..

    Wellington tops the country for average salaries at $81259
    with Taranaki second at $75170.

    The private ,industrial oil and gas sector,something that is productive and exported trails the unproductive public sector which in its current bloated form is a drag on the economy and taxpayers.Something very wrong here.

    And trailing all is Otago at $60189.And yet the left don’t want real jobs to fix that.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/288096/south-must-be-proactive

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  16. eszett (2,408 comments) says:

    Sorry to be pedantic here but “the loss is undermining the country’s democratic process” and “It’s not good for our democratic apparatus” is not the same as saying it’s undemocratic.

    You will agree that a good functioning public service is vital to our democratic proccess.

    Whether or not such cuts undermine or weaken that process is another question.
    But to claim that Labour says it’s undemocratic or that it is the end of democracy is just a silly hyperbole.

    Classic lazy strawman.

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  17. stephen2d (83 comments) says:

    Labour *thinks* (I know, hard to believe) that the role of civil servants is to be like Sir Humphreys and do whatever they think is right, keeping ministers at bay and away, while they push on their (heavily influenced and unionised) agendas.

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  18. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Pillott just trying to justify her huge salary paid for by the wimp members.
    Must make a noise otherwise nobody knows I am here.
    And the media will support me me me .

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  19. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    eszett (2,198 comments) says:
    January 14th, 2014 at 10:55 am
    Sorry to be pedantic here

    No you’re not.

    Why lie?

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  20. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    @slijmbal payoff for headcount reductions is almost always less than one year, generally 3-6 months (certainly in NZ, other countries like France and Spain can be problematic).

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  21. Reid (16,448 comments) says:

    What we should have but never will, is a process whereby civil servants are not just allowed but required to publish papers outlining their certified true and accurate opinion on every major ministerial initiative. And they are required to do that before the final decision is made. Imagine if the public were able to see the actual impact analysis of everything a minister proposed in say, Immigration, Welfare, etc. It would blow politically inspired pet projects right out of the water.

    Because finally, Ministers would not be able to bullshit the public and say “X” when they knew the actual impact was “Y.”

    We’d be the only country in the world to do that.

    But why not? We pay for it. Why shouldn’t the “shareholders” know precisely what is likely to happen based on professional opinion from those best equipped to know, as opposed to being lied to and then finding out only after the minister has left as the reality unfolds.

    It’s clear that the democratic furness of the combined political opposition and the media which is supposed to accomplish this, doesn’t get the job done, so why not try something new.

    Politicians of all stripes would hate it. Of course. But who cares. All of them claim they operate in sunlight. So make them.

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  22. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    Reid, civil servants /are/ required to publish regulatory impact assessments. They’re all here

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/informationreleases/ris

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  23. Sonny Blount (1,782 comments) says:

    That is ridiculous Reid.

    The history of ‘experts’ or industry insiders is not good.

    A cursory look at the agricultural, military, pharmaceutical, construction, and education industries can tell you that.

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  24. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    The message was also important – “dominate the media by controlling the message through credible right wing blogs”. Mr Lusk also said there needed to be a focus on “taking over the public sector” to create a pool of fiscal conservatives who would work with politicians.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10887749

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  25. Reid (16,448 comments) says:

    The history of ‘experts’ or industry insiders is not good.

    Whereas the history of our system of political interference to date is?

    Has it occurred to you Sonny that since the public have never had the opportunity to look at the internal papers in a systematic and timely fashion, we’re not in a position to judge, so how do you know it is “ridiculous?” Has it occurred to you if we were given that opportunity to read it, that the advice given might actually make some sense whereas the policy that the minister decided to implement wasn’t anything like the advice received? And that with our current system of secrecy and required sycophancy whereby every single minister is treated like some sort of mini-Emperor, even the advice received is often tempered by those more concerned with earning brownie points or not rocking the boat than with telling the plain and actual truth?

    Reid, civil servants /are/ required to publish regulatory impact assessments. They’re all here

    Insufficient, untimely and tempered with political considerations Albert.

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  26. Poliwatch (335 comments) says:

    What would be intersting to know is of the 412 govt staff members over 55 who took redundancy, took it as voluntary redundancy. Usually during a redundancy round voluntary redundancies are asked for first. People over 55 often take that option as they protect all their rights to super etc plus get a lump sum payment for leaving. For someone who has been in the job for a number of years this can be an attractive option.

    Might be worth an OIA request?

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  27. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    @ Reid at 1:11. Have you read them all? Can you give some examples of where they are “tempered with political considerations” or”insufficient”? They are required to be published at the same time as Bills are introduced into the House, what sort of timing would you consider more “timely” than that?

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  28. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Albert_Ross

    That list, ideological burps !!!!!!

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  29. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    Burt @ 1:38. Have you read them all? Could you give some examples of ideological burps from among them?

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  30. Reid (16,448 comments) says:

    Can you give some examples of where they are “tempered with political considerations” or”insufficient”

    No I’m afraid I can’t give you those without breaking confidences Albert, but if you’ve been around the traps in Wgtn then you’ll know they exist.

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  31. tvb (4,421 comments) says:

    Public servants do what they are told. Those that don’t should be charged with treason.

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  32. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    Reid, you neatly demonstrate a universal problem in politics and regulation – the assumption that if you want outcome x, you just put in place a regulation that people must do y, then people will do y and the outcome will be x.

    You called for

    a process whereby civil servants are not just allowed but required to publish papers outlining their certified true and accurate opinion on every major ministerial initiative. And they are required to do that before the final decision is made.

    There is precisely such a requirement in place in New Zealand, insofar as it is legally possible to require an “opinion” to be “certified true and accurate”. But it is not leading to the result that you expected. Does that make you a “liar”?

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  33. Reid (16,448 comments) says:

    …you just put in place a regulation that people must do y, then people will do y and the outcome will be x.

    Albert the intent behind that call is to change the rules so that civil servants can speak their minds without fear nor favour because they would legally be required to do so. Currently they couch their papers in extremely calculated language specifically designed not to offend the incumbent minister because this means you’re being “politically neutral” even if you not only suspect but actually know, because you’ve had a lifetime of experience in the dept, that the policy in question is complete and utter bollocks.

    And if you think that this doesn’t happen all over Wgtn, across all depts, across all stripes of govt, all the time; then with respect, you’re wrong, but no-one involved can talk publicly about it without jeopardising their career prospects.

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  34. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    We once made a mistake and employed an ex-career public servant . . . what a disaster, even a couple of our unionised staff members had a gutsful of the jerk within a month. Believe me, if he was representative of the attitude of older PSA members, then get rid of the whole effen lot.

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  35. Gulag1917 (916 comments) says:

    Civil servants = PSA = Labour = economic stagnation. I know of people who are still waiting {25 years] for a government agency to sort out a problem that they created. The less civil servants = less trouble.

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  36. Albert_Ross (292 comments) says:

    I am not disputing – though I think you exaggerate – your description of how things actually happen. I am disputing your assumption that they happen in that way because the rules are wrong, and that changing the rules would therefore make things better.

    Civil servants /are/ required to provide robust and unbiased advice. It says so in the Code of Conduct. It is the responsibility of public servants to provide honest, impartial and comprehensive advice to ministers and to alert ministers to the possible consequences of following particular policies, whether or not such advice accords with ministers’ views. The rules do not require civil servants to “couch papers in extremely calculated language specifically designed not to offend the incumbent minster”. They do require careful and robust analysis and the free and frank presentation of that analysis.

    So if in fact that doesn’t happen, that is not because the rules are wrong. It is because, in the real world, factors other than the rules also govern people’s choices and behaviour; and neither civil servants nor Ministers are omniscient beings of great wisdom, perfect integrity, high courage and unblemished rectitude. Yes, things would be better if they were, and if the spirit as well as the letter of the law were faithfully adhered to. But that falls firmly into the category of “true, but useless”. The same could be said of any profession and any aspect of society, and that is the case throughout the world and throughout all history.

    The point here is simply that setting up a rule is no guarantee that behaviour will improve or that outcomes will be better. The rules you want are in place, but they are not delivering the results you expect.

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  37. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    I would share eszett’s caution about the strength of DPF’s criticism here. There is a place for robust institutional knowledge and good policy analysis in particular in terms of advising ministers.
    However, flattening management structure is often a good thing in terms of the health of an organisation.

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  38. OneTrack (3,092 comments) says:

    “So Labour think it is the job of the public sector to challenge Ministers, not assist them?”

    Only when a National government is in power.

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