DOC has announced it is cutting 140 positions around the country as part of a shift in organisational focus and in a bid to make up to $9 million dollars in savings from on-going government funding cuts to its operational budget.
Forest and Bird is encouraging people to flood Department of Conservation offices with messages of support to staff and to send a message to the government about the impact of funding cuts on conservation.
PSA members at DOC will be presenting a detailed submission today as part of the consultation process before DOC releases final decisions on the restructuring in the next few weeks.
The PSA represents more than 1400 DOC staff.
PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott, who was at the lunchtime event, says the planned cuts will hit frontline jobs and operations across DOC’s regional network. “Once again we are seeing public sector cuts costing valuable jobs. The DOC review is another in a long list of cuts and restructuring which have affected public sector workers and continues to create a very difficult and unsettled environment for them.”
DOC has been one of the hardest hit in terms of government budget cuts.
“The Department has already been through one review process which has cost jobs and affected its capability in some areas. It’s clear that it’s now reached a stage where it can’t make the required savings without sacrificing frontline jobs,” Brenda Pilott says. The PSA says many communities are also concerned about the job cuts. “In some of the smaller regions where DOC staff not only manage conservation but are integral to their local communities, the impact of any job loss will be felt strongly,” Brenda Pilott says.
“It’s great to see Forest and Bird voicing support for the valuable work that DOC does and encouraging a public vote of confidence in it. I think staff will feel heartened by it.”
Media release from Forest and Bird
Messages of support from thousands of New Zealanders were stuck onto Department of Conservation office windows across the country, as part of a national Love DOC Day today. Others have baked and delivered cakes, or are wearing green ribbons, in support of DOC staff, and the jobs they do.
Love DOC Day was organised by conservation charity Forest & Bird, after the department announced last month that 140 frontline jobs would be lost in yet another round of cuts. DOC has lost ten per cent of its staff in the last two years, and $54 million worth of government funding over the last four years.
By lunchtime more than a thousand people had emailed messages of support, which have been transcribed to Post-it notes, and placed onto DOC’s buildings in 26 locations around the country, from Warkworth to Invercargill. One message of support came from South Africa’s Gough Island Antarctic base in the mid-South Atlantic Ocean. Other messages of support are being written up and applied to DOC offices directly by local people.
A message was also sent by Forest & Bird to DOC’s team on Raoul Island, in the Kermadec Group, this afternoon.
“It was impossible to deliver any cakes, but at least we could let the country’s most isolated workers know how much New Zealanders appreciate the work they do,” says Kevin Hackwell, Forest & Bird’s Advocacy Manager.
“Love Doc Day stemmed from the widespread shock and disappointment that was expressed throughout the country after last month’s job cuts were announced,” says Kevin Hackwell. “Anyone who has ever enjoyed a national park knows just how important DOC is to what makes New Zealand such a great place to live. And anyone who works in tourism, for example, knows how vital it is that DOC is funded to do its job.”
The Tourism Industry Association this week expressed its concern about the job losses at DOC.
“The Government must cancel the cuts, and give DOC the money it needs in the upcoming budget,” says Kevin Hackwell.
“Last year the Auditor General made it clear in her report that DOC wasn’t performing as it should. Restructuring the department, and cutting yet another 140 jobs, is not going to change that situation.
“DOC is the single-most important guardian of this country’s clean green brand, our special places, our historic sites, and our endangered species. If we lose that, we’re toast,” says Kevin Hackwell.