13 Mar 2012

Diplomats' partners say leave MFAT

11:36 am on 13 March 2012

Diplomats' partners are encouraging them to leave the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade because of cost-cutting measures being pushed through by the Government.

Some 180 partners of New Zealand diplomats worried about job security have written a letter to the ministry's executive, John Allen, and were to meet him on Monday evening.

The group's spokesperson, Bronwen Golder, who has been a diplomat's partner for 20 years, says the proposals at MFAT do not guarantee staff a sustained career at the ministry.

"The suggested change to the career structure of MFAT is that an MFAT officer overseas will not have a position to return to.

"Therefore, why would any couple give up the other partner's employment in order to come back to two potentially unemployed members of the family?"

MFAT plans to cut more than 300 jobs and close embassies in Stockholm and Warsaw. Six hundred of its 1400 staff will have to re-apply for their jobs.

Ms Golder says proposed cuts to allowances could also make postings unaffordable for some couples.

"And what partners and their MFAT partner are discovering is that the calculations, as currently proposed, would leave them with little reason to actually uproot from Wellington, give up the income of one partner and go overseas."

The Government says the cuts - aimed at saving up to $25 million a year - are still to be consulted on with staff.