• Posted on: 23/02/2024
  • 2 minutes to read

The Government’s plan to encourage workers at Customs to take voluntary redundancy puts at risk the vital work of the agency, facilitating a safe and smooth entry and exit through our border, supporting our exports, and keeping New Zealanders safe from organised crime and other threats.

The plans were revealed on Stuff this morning.

The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, Aotearoa and E tū, two unions representing Customs workers, say the plan simply doesn’t stack up.

"We don’t believe Customs can achieve sufficient savings through voluntary redundancies without impacting the critical services Customs provides to protect our land and sea borders," said Duane Leo, National Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, Aotearoa.

"This plan means Customs stands to lose valuable and experienced workers who are our first line of defence against those who threaten the safety and wellbeing of New Zealanders.

"These are people helping protect our air and sea borders from dangerous illicit drugs, organised criminal gangs, and who support our importers and exporters by facilitating trade, and smoothing the passage of New Zealand and overseas travellers.

"The PSA finds it surprising that a government that wants to get tough on crime, and gangs, is now hamstringing the key organisation keeping dangerous drugs from falling into the hands of gangs through this badly thought through cost cutting plan. It makes no sense."

E tū Director, Savage, says the plan will impact people and businesses who rely on a strong and well-functioning Customs Service.

"We should be employing more customs officers, not fewer," Savage says.

"Customs works very closely with the Ministry of Primary Industries, Immigration New Zealand, and the Defence Force to ensure safe and secure air and seaports. From everyday Kiwis travelling overseas to our exporting industries, we all need a robust Customs Service.

"The Government seems to fail to understand that if we are to prosper as a nation and keep New Zealanders safe, then critical services, like Customs, need to be strengthened. This is another example of the consequences of taking a blunt axe to public services. A sloppy solution to an ill-defined problem. It is really more about finding money to fund tax cuts for landlords and the highest income earners."

Duane Leo says this is just one example of the extensive attacks the Government is launching against our public services.

"New Zealanders will pay a high price for this, and Customs is just the latest in what is becoming a long line of examples of services suffering through this incoherent cost cutting exercise."