14 May 2015

Corrections announce 194 jobs to go

6:06 pm on 14 May 2015

The Department of Corrections has announced it is cutting 194 jobs across three regional prisons.

Department of Corrections logo

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

The cuts affect staff, mostly prison officers, with 138 jobs going at Waikeria Prison, 47 at Rimutaka, and 37 at Tongariro-Rangipo.

Earlier, it had been proposed 260 jobs would be cut.

Corrections said they would take place in the next year, because of the closure of some old units in the three prisons.

Department chief executive Ray Smith said the job losses related to closing some old and now unfit-for-purpose units at the three prisons, as part of its wider restructure.

He said 75 percent of the people who have lost their jobs should realistically be able to find others in the organisation.

"There'll inevitably be some redundancies. We're a very large organisation, there's nearly 8000 employeed, there's 18 prisons spread across the country.

"If people are prepared to locate to any one of those 18 locations, we'll help them get there, up to the value of $20,000."

Mr Smith said some employees would not want to move because of family commitments, but they would have until April next year before they were made redundant.

Earlier, the industrial officer for the Corrections Association, Beven Hanlon, said these regions were struggling already, particularly with low dairy prices in Waikato.

He said Turangi would be hardest hit, given that at present it had one of the country's highest unemployment rates.

Mr Hanlon said researchers found similar cuts in New South Wales had a large socio-economic impact on communities, forcing sports clubs to close and triggering a rise in youth crime.

The Otorohanga mayor said the job cuts at Waikeria Prison were a huge blow to the community and the wider district.

Max Baxter he said he was disappointed when told of the plans just a few hours prior to the initial announcement last month, and by the lack of a consultation period.

Mr Baxter said there was very little the council could do so it is forced to look at the positive, in that the part of Waikeria being closed had long passed its use-by date.

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