MBIE listens to the PSA and agrees not to abandon regional mediators

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The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has listened to unions, businesses and communities - and opted not to ditch business mediation services in smaller cities.

MBIE had proposed getting rid of mediators in Napier, Palmerston North and Dunedin, and replacing them with contractors.

After outcry from local businesses and submissions from the PSA, the Ministry has decided to keep mediators on staff, although overall numbers will fall and panels of contractors will be introduced.

"We’re pleased MBIE and its minister Michael Woodhouse have listened," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"Along with business groups and the public, the PSA made it clear privatising mediation services wouldn’t deliver better resolution rates or significant cost savings."

But Mr Barclay is still concerned that the changes signal a long term plan to centralise and privatise mediation services.

"The PSA maintains the current system isn’t broken and MBIE doesn’t need to fix it.

"We recognise improvements can be made - like faster response times, better access in smaller provincial areas, and greater consistency.

"But these are best made by maintaining a core of directly-employed mediators.

"Every time public services are moved to the main centres, local knowledge is lost - and communities lose secure, decently-paid jobs.

"A robust and independent mediation service is crucial to economic development in New Zealand’s regions.

"We urge MBIE to support them - and stop this move towards contracting out public services."