23 May 2024

Public Service Commission looks to cut nearly 20 percent of its workforce

7:06 pm on 23 May 2024
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The Public Service Commission is located on level 10 of the RBNZ Building on The Terrace in Wellington. Photo: RNZ

The Public Service Commission is looking to slash nearly 20 percent of its workforce, with a staff member telling RNZ some of those affected were "in pieces".

The "brutal" change proposal left many in tears, angry, and feeling like they had been "sold down the river", said the staff member, who RNZ has agreed not to name.

The commission confirmed it proposed disestablishing 24 roles, and offering 13 people voluntary redundancy - reducing the overall head-count by 37.

It currently employs about 200 people, and had been directed to save 7.5 percent of its budget as part of wider government cost-cutting measures.

"The proposal would reduce the number of tier two leaders (Deputy Commissioners) by 42 percent, down from seven to four," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"The number of other leaders (managers and chief advisors) would be reduced by 25 percent, from 28 to 21."

No final decisions had been made, and the commission was currently consulting with staff on the proposal.

Some of those leaders losing their jobs were "locked out" of decision-making processes, which were run by Public Service Commissioner Heather Baggott and her deputies, Rebecca Kitteridge, and Gaye Searancke, the staff member said.

Some advisors were told there was "nothing else for them" - as in, no other roles they could apply for. And all fixed term contracts would end, they said.

The proposal had "really gone for Diversity and Inclusion", with all but one or two of those roles disestablished, the staff member said. It was not clear how many were in the team, and the commission did not confirm this when RNZ put the claim to it.

Some of those affected were "in pieces", the staffer said.

"The [staff] response has been quite extreme.

"There's a high level of distress."

To add insult to injury, the commission had taken a long time to come up with a proposal, with other ministries making cuts far earlier. That meant any jobs that were around in other areas of the public service had already been snapped up, they said.

"With no jobs out there, they're looking at a grim Christmas."

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