18 May 2012

Restructuring may handicap envoys - union

6:11 am on 18 May 2012

A union representing staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is questioning whether its restructuring can allow it to deliver high quality outcomes.

MFAT confirmed on Thursday its final decision has been made on restructuring which it says will save $10 - $12 million a year.

Originally, in February, 300 jobs were going to be cut, but ministry chief executive John Allen says after consultation that was changed to 23 foreign policy staff and 56 corporate services jobs being axed.

Mr Allen says the final decision to cut 79 jobs following a backlash to the original plan shows there was genuine consultation in the restructuring.

Foreign Service Association president Warren Fraser says even though fewer staff are losing their jobs, positions are still going and others will have to do the same amount of work or more.

Mr Fraser says there is already been an exodus of highly skilled staff from MFAT and staff morale is very low.

However Prime Minister John Key says he does not believe the cuts will damage the country's international relations.

On Wednesday, the Government confirmed it will close its Stockholm embassy.

Mr Key says this represents a change in focus on more activity in Asia, and the consolidation of operations in Europe.

Mr Allen says that in addition to the plan saving between $10 - $12 million a year, Government decisions to close posts in Europe will save a further $10 million a year.