Civil service feels festive pinch

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2013

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If you thought your work party was a bit stingy, spare a thought for the public service, where Christmas certainly didn't come early this year - if at all.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show the maximum budget for Government staff shin-digs for 2013 was about $30 per head - with the cash strictly not to be used on alcohol.

In some cases, such as at Internal Affairs, allowances sank as low as $10 per person and parties had to be subsidised by the social club.

Worse, there were no funded parties at most of the hospitals, where staff were left to arrange their own or go without.

At Auckland District Health Board, things sank even lower when a well-meant gift from the new chief executive Ailsa Claire of two Christmas mince pies for each staff member turned into a double disaster.

Initially it was thought some of the pies were mouldy and Claire was forced to issue an apology to her employees.

"This was supposed to be a small gesture from the senior management team to our 10,000-plus staff to say ‘thanks' for their tremendous efforts throughout the year," Claire said.

"Although it appears a relatively small number of mince pies are affected, it is very disappointing something intended as a celebration and recognition of a job well done has been marred in this way."

But it turns out what looked like mould was a mark on the packaging and some staff members got their pies on Friday.

And it seems being top-dog in the public service might not pay off either, after gift registries revealed a distinct lack of presents to chief executives and staff.

Most bosses did not receive gifts, and lists from those who did showed very modest offerings - mainly wine and chocolate, although someone at the Ministry of Health did receive a book about Maori cloaks last year.

Fortunately for that person, they didn't work at Internal Affairs, or the book would have had to go straight to the library - the organisation has a policy that all gifts go straight to the communal coffers, including wine, which is then given out as gifts during the year.

The request for information was sent to every government ministry. Most did not reply.

PUBLIC SERVICE CHRISTMAS BUDGETS PER HEAD

Internal Affairs $10

Ministry of Health $12.50

Ministry of Education $16

Ministry of Women's Affairs $20

Ministry for Primary Industries $20

Ministry for the Environment $25

Ministry of Transport $25

Ministry of Culture and Heritage $25

Te Puni Kokiri $25

Housing New Zealand $30

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- Sunday Star Times

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