14 Feb 2012

Union wants Govt to delay public sector shake-up

11:12 am on 14 February 2012

A union says the Government should hold off restructuring the public service sector until inquiries into the Pike River mining disaster and the Canterbury earthquakes are completed.

Prime Minister John Key has signalled there will be more mergers in the state sector and is not ruling out further redundancies.

Mr Key says there will be more sharing of resources, and an increase in the use of technology.

He says the Government is focused on improved services, more efficiency and better value for money, and will provide more detail in an upcoming speech.

The Public Service Association's national secretary says the Royal Commissions on the West Coast mine disaster and the quakes are looking closely at what resources have been available.

Brenda Pilott told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday that deregulating services could be seen as further diminishing an already stretched sector.

"And if indeed we're seeing that those are some of the reasons why some of those tragedies have happened, then it would be very unwise to look at cutting those kinds of areas."

Ms Pilott says the Royal Commissions are likely to have something to say about building standards and the low number of labour and mine inspectors.

The PSA says the Government is not coming up with a coherent plan for the public service and is making cuts for the sake of it. Brenda Pilott says there is no more fat left in the system and public sector cuts are starting to take their toll.

"There's some possibility that (the Maori Development Ministry) Te Puni Kokiri's regional office is going to be shut. We've been talking with places like DoC and Inland Revenue about some of the potential service impacts of the cuts they've made and the next round.

"There is really a point at which things are going to be very evident."

The PSA says the Government should release the report of the Better Public Services advisory group it received just before Christmas recommending changes to the sector.

Ms Pilott says the Prime Minister will probably reveal some of the group's findings in a couple of weeks, but the whole report should be made available.

She says it is not clear whether the proposed changes are being driven by the desire for a better public service, or for cheaper public services with fewer public servants.