KiwiRail Job Cuts Cause Unnecessary Risk

The 220 jobs that are being cut from KiwRail's engineering department are not insignificant. These are the guys that repair, maintain and upgrade the track and oversee general rail infrastructure. Our rail systems were hugely run down during the years of privatisation and have still not returned to the standard they were before. The main goal of this exercise is to save $14 million without losing "essential skills and competencies".

It all sounds a little like the cuts to our biosecurity staff where we were assured that we would not lose essential frontline staff and yet information gained through the OIA revealed otherwise. Twenty five frontline staff had been cut and two x-ray machines were taken out of service. An independent report identified shortcomings in our biosecurity that led to the entry of a devastating kiwifruit vine disease that will cost around $400 million in lost revenue.

If our track maintenance is compromised because of these cuts the potential for a major accident or failure increases. The Government appears to rely on the short memories or the general apathy of the public when it continues to cut frontline staff from our government departments and SOEs. While there may be savings of a few million in wages and salaries, and the government's books may look good, the costs down the line may be considerable. I'm sure our KiwiFruit industry, the Pike River families and those living in leaky homes would say that the risks involved in such indiscriminate cuts aren't worth it.  


Towack said…
The maintenance on the tracks has been outsourced for years so you can stop panicing. Once again its the private companies coming in and working more efficiently to ensure monsters like Kiwirail dont fail.

Interesting that the three examples you use at the end are all private industry run, so no relation to your government frontline cuts. The mistakes made in all three of them are their own
bsprout said…
Towack-But whose responsibility is it to regulate industry and ensure compliance? This government is very good at reducing regulations and the staffing of those responsible for compliance and then when things go wrong, blame others. I admit that the jobs in KiwiRail aren't quite the same as my examples, but all involve government initiated cutbacks that have compromised health and safety and industry viability.
Towack said…
Bollocks man - corperate greed is what caused all the issues in all three of your examples.

Kiwifruit: anyone could have bypassed NZ biosecurity under any government - look at the rabbit virus.
Pike River - even if NZ wanted to hire more mine inspectors, there are so few qualified inspectors in the world that we could never pay enough to have a full blanket coverage in NZ.
Leaky Homes - how one could blame this on the National Gov proves just how stupidly bias you are - plenty of homes were built in Labours era. Local government sets up the criteria for their area, not the national government.
And as for Kiwirail, only the most stupid of investors would buy a broken down, asset stripped and undermaintained company, and Labour did. Kiwirail will continue to bleed and will eventually shutdown everything but the very main routes and tourist runs. It can never compete with an efficient road system in a small country like NZ.
bsprout said…
One or two mining inspectors is pathetic under any reasoning. The other issue was blocking miners from being represented in safety management.

Corporate geed will always be an issue and what we don't need is a government that buys into the same ethos.

You are right, though, I shouldn't blame it all on National, Labour is also complicit.

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