MFAT Faces Diplomat Crisis Says Survey

Press Release – Foreign Services Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [29 February 2012] The Foreign Service Association today revealed the manpower crisis facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade if it goes ahead with proposed pay changes. In a survey of members, 73% of respondents working abroad …FOREIGN MINISTRY FACES DIPLOMAT CRISIS, SURVEY SHOWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE [29 February 2012]

The Foreign Service Association today revealed the manpower crisis facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade if it goes ahead with proposed pay changes.
In a survey of members, 73% of respondents working abroad for New Zealand said they were either considering returning to New Zealand before the scheduled end of their posting or resigning as a consequence of the proposed changes.

Of those in Wellington who would replace them, 66% of respondents said they would be less likely to consider a posting abroad as a consequence of the changes, and a further 25% said they are considering resignation.[1]

“We knew members were upset, but this surprised even us,” said Warren Fraser, President of the Foreign Service Association. “The bottom line is that hardly anyone will want to serve New Zealand abroad under the proposed changes.

“New Zealand’s interests in the world need to be advanced by skilled and capable people. The Ministry is proposing to offer peanuts to work long hours in often unglamorous locations where staff partners often can’t or aren’t allowed to work. If it proceeds with these changes what’s clear is that staff will desert the Ministry in droves. ”

Notes to editors
The Foreign Service Association (FSA) is one of two unions representing MFAT staff. It has 600 members. The PSA is the other union. The two unions are working together to represent MFAT staff and respond to MFAT proposals to drastically alter terms and conditions of employment.

Warren Fraser is President of the FSA and a Ministry employee. He has worked for MFAT for over 17 years and has had postings in Canada, the European Union, and Australia.

The FSA polled its staff on Friday 24 February, and received 312 responses. Of these:
• 47 were posted abroad and considering returning
• 37 were posted abroad and considering resigning
• 30 were at post and not considering returning
• 105 were in Wellington and less likely to consider a posting in future
• 38 were in Wellington and considering resigning
• 15 were in Wellington and equally or more likely to consider a posting
• 40 responded not sure/not applicable.
Though asked, none responded that they were happy with the proposed changes.

MFAT is proposing massive cuts to offshore allowances which in many cases would result in a reduction of posted staff remuneration of 40-45%. Allowances to compensate partners and children who give up life and work in Wellington to follow staff are to be completely cut, and allowances to compensate for overseas hardship and higher cost of living are substantially reduced.

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