Ben Jacobs, Wellington branch of the Workers Party
One aspect of the government’s spending that was not widely covered by the media at the time of this year’s budget announcements was the reduction in public sector spending by one billion dollars over the next three years. This comes on top of the sinking lid on the number of public servants and raft of more specific cuts made since the National party came to power.
The effect of these cuts has been an increase in the contracting out of public sector jobs, from operational to managerial functions. For example, when Bill English asked government departments to reduce spending by 10%, contractors became a much more attractive proposition - not only because they don’t have the same rights as permanent employees (such as sick leave, holiday pay and collective agreement coverage) but also because it’s much easier to hide this spending from the public eye. The impact of this is to increase the proportion of fixed term workers and reduce union coverage, whittling what remaining culture of solidarity exists in the head offices of government departments. Read the rest of this entry »