Education Ministry workers on tenterhooks awaiting job cuts news

Education Ministry staff have told RNZ about their crippling anxiety as they and Oranga Tamariki staff wait to learn next week if they have lost their jobs.

Two of the biggest public service employers have tabled job cut proposals for Monday and Wednesday.

But Education Ministry workers say they have been kept nervously waiting while leaders delay revealing their announcements.

One worker* said not knowing if she would lose her job has had her in tears and struggling with anxiety.

“My blood pressure is through the roof. I know the cause of the anxiety is the uncertainty of not knowing if I get to keep a job, any job…

“Then if I lose my job, I am entering a saturated market at a time when all departments are reducing and even the private sector is laying off staff.”

She had to seek the help of her doctor to cope, she said.

“The employers have all the power and the lack of information about dates and when we are expected to find out about our jobs is not okay.

“Yet we are expected to perform and to keep rolling out the new government’s work programme, even when we don’t know if we have jobs.”

Another staff member* said multiple promises had been made about when the proposals would be presented.

“Over the last six weeks, we’ve had numerous promises of dates when we will know whether we will lose our jobs .. but those dates keep changing.”

It had taken an immense psychological toll on people, she said.

“It’s a cruel process, this extended timeframe. I know many whose mental health is already impacted.

“Many feel the regard for staff isn’t there – it’s hard to not feel dehumanised through both the blanket ‘dump ’em’ direction and also the long-winded waiting game.”

Read more:

Some ‘trying to get ahead of the wave of cuts’

However, Ministry of Education corporate leader (hautū) Zoe Griffiths said there had been no change to the agency’s job proposal process.

“As noted on our website, the scope and timing of these change processes is different for each ministry business group, owing to the varying contexts and complexities, and different matters that need to be considered.”

Nevertheless, the mood was low and one employee* said the sense of competition between workmates was palpable.

“Some people are trying to get ahead of the wave of cuts and preemptively apply for jobs… Given our specialisation, there’s also a sense that we are all applying for the same jobs. You want to be supportive of your friends and colleagues, but they are your competition now.”

Another said some people were taking sick leave because the uncertainty had been so overwhelming.

“A sense that actually, while we could be working on this today, we’ve just watched a whole bunch of people, like the NCEA programme, now not have work.

“People are just watching stuff happening, thinking, ‘oh my God, no one’s safe. There’s nowhere to hide’.”

RNZ understands some people at the Ministry of Education have already been told they are affected by the cuts.

More proposals will be rolled out across the agency’s different teams next week, starting on Monday.

Oranga Tamariki is slated to make its announcement on Wednesday.

* RNZ agreed not to name any of the public servants quoted in this story.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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