9 Apr 2024

Public servants want to know if management positions will be on the chopping block

4:04 pm on 9 April 2024
Composite of Minister of the Treasury, Nicola Willis and GDP charts and the Beehive

Photo: RNZ

Advice has been sought by the finance minister to make sure the public service is not "top heavy".

It comes as public servants express their concerns over managerial roles not facing the same threat from job cuts.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis told RNZ she had asked for advice from the Public Service Commission on how many public servants were in tier two and three management roles.

"What I have said to the Public Service Commission is give me some advice on the number of tier-two and three managers we have, so I can have a look at whether that looks like there are any issues.

"And then let's have a think about where we might go next in terms of making sure the public service is the right size."

Public servants whose jobs are on the line have expressed anger and confusion over the seeming disparity between lower tier jobs at risk, and those of their managers.

Are you affected by the public sector cost-cutting measures? Contact kate.green@rnz.co.nz.

"As far as I know, those management positions are not being looked at in this change proposal," one told RNZ.

"Instead, each of the dep secs [deputy secretaries] gets to make the decisions about their direct reports, which tells me that they will not be looking at their own positions and offices for those reductions."

Another said it seemed a bit unfair.

"Managers and people on higher salaries seem less impacted - my current team is made up of all very senior people on much higher salaries than mine and they're all unaffected by the proposed changes while my job is on the line so the ministry can achieve the government's cost cutting objectives.

And another said: "It's quite frustrating, because they're earning salaries upwards of $180,000-$200,000 a year."

"So when you think about the percentage of cuts we're being expected to make, instead of having less [numerical] cuts of roles, with the higher salaries to make up for that, they're just going for whoever is going to be able to save their arse."

A worker who was told his contract was on the chopping block said since he had received the news, he had seen senior management jobs listed for his ministry.

"Like I thought we have no budget? But somehow we have budget to hire people with six-figure salaries?"

Willis said she was looking at cost cutting proposals from agencies to check they related to back office savings, and then individual ministers were going through the finer details with chief executives.

The approach to cuts was being led by department chief executives, she said.

"Every agency's had a bespoke solution in the sense that we set an initial target, then agencies came back with proposals, ministers looked at those and in some cases rejected them carte blanche, sometimes they came to me and I rejected them, sometimes we've looked at their proposals and said 'well, why don't you push a bit harder here, and not do that'."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs