The Public Service Associations says the government should not exploit the Christchurch earthquake to drive a cost-cutting, sardine-can approach to public services.
As part of the Christchurch rebuild the government is reportedly planning to house up to 2500 public service workers in two to three buildings in the CBD in a move which will significantly reduce office space and promote alternative workplace practices thrown up by the earthquake. There are also suggestions that Christchurch will be used as a model for the government’s wider accommodation strategies.
The PSA says there is no doubt that the earthquake has demonstrated the responsiveness of the public service and its ability to be flexible.
"Public servants and agencies throughout Christchurch have been happy to go the extra mile and be flexible to meet the extraordinary circumstances presented by the earthquake," says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.
However she says "that should not be used as an excuse to normalise and entrench some of the difficult conditions they have been working under. It risks taking advantage of people’s goodwill and could lead to cramped, over-rationalised workplaces which won’t improve services."
"There have been some very positive working innovations in Christchurch as a result of the earthquakes, but that innovation needs to be about enhancing public services, not about forcing savings," she says.
Brenda Pilott says if the government is serious about supporting and encouraging the Christchurch rebuild, what is needed are good quality jobs and good quality public services.