Managers and workers in the public service are buckling under stress, the union acting for public service workers has warned.
The message was delivered to Finance Minister Bill English and comes as the Government warns that belt tightening will continue for the foreseeable future.
Mr English was criticised at a gathering of Public Service Association delegates in Wellington yesterday for the Government cutting public service numbers when it had campaigned in 2008 on a "cap, not a cut".
But Mr English told the meeting that promise had been delivered during different times - and compared with countries overseas, where the global financial crisis had slashed billions of dollars from government budgets, the impact on the New Zealand public service had been gentle.
Figures out soon would show total staff numbers were only down about 2000 on 2007, before National was elected, and base pay had risen by an average 3 per cent.
But PSA secretary Brenda Pilott said public servants were working longer hours for little or no extra pay and were also under stress from mounting workloads.
"In some agencies the number of unfilled vacancies is as high as 30 per cent. These vacancies put huge pressure on existing staff in terms of workload."
Workplace bullying and poor management decisions were some of the consequences, while vital social services were being replaced with unanswered call centres, Chinese contractors were printing their own visas and government-appointed meat inspectors were telling of dodgy inspection practices by meat companies.
The "cracks are beginning to show".
Ms Pilott said there was also concern about the State Sector Reform Bill, which would put constraints on the pay and conditions of state-sector employees. The bill also attacked redundancy provisions, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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