Job losses loom at Dept of Conservation

A major revamp at the Department of Conservation, including job losses, will be announced on Tuesday and director-general Al Morrison has indicated it will hit staff hard.

DOC last night came third in the annual Randstad awards for the most attractive employers to jobseekers, with Morrison saying on stage at the ceremony: "This is slightly embarrassing. Next week we're going to announce a major restructuring and a lot of people are going to get hurt."

The restructuring is part of a national review of 1200 staff roles that is part of a drive to save about $9 million a year.

Spokesman Rory Newsam said operational biodiversity and recreational staff from area managers and regional conservators-down could be affected.

Staff would have two to three weeks to give their feedback to managers before a final decision was made. Newsam said it was too early to say what DOC's proposed operational structure would be and how many staff could be affected by the changes.

"DOC will not release the details until they are put to staff," he said.

The roles of 1200 operational staff, from rangers to conservators, across the country were part of the review, but it did not mean all their jobs would be affected, he added.

However, Newsam told the Nelson Mail last October he did not rule out the reorganisation of offices and workers under the review.

Last year DOC appointed commercial business development, outreach and engagement managers across its seven conservancy offices as it moved to form partnerships with the community and businesses on conservation efforts.

DOC's operating budget for last financial year was $335m - $25m less than 2008. In 2009 DOC was told its budget would be annually capped at $13.5m less for the next four years. But in 2012-13 it faced a further $11.5m cut in income from the Government.

DOC's move to rationalise its operational staff was criticised by Forest and Bird top-of-the-south field officer Debs Martin.

She said the risk was that large back-country projects would be ignored while staff focussed on low-risk destination sites and community liaison roles.

Earlier this month DOC said a recruitment freeze on operations staff would continue until the restructure ends in July. Since 2011 about 120 jobs have been lost.