Keith Locke

Laid-off defence staff need special consideration

by Keith Locke

The Defence Force has put an overly positive spin on the laying off of 308 members of the armed forces whose jobs are being “civilianized”.

While recognizing it is “a difficult day for the Defence Force” Lt Gen Rhys Jones claims that those laid off “will welcome the decision” if they have “registered their interest in applying for civilian positions.”

But even if they are lucky enough to get the jobs, it will be minus the housing and other entitlements that military people get.

The Defence Force seems to be treating this as a normal layoff situation, with the military assisting with retraining and the services of chaplains and psychologists.

In fact, it should be treated quite differently. When Kiwis sign up with the Defence Force they give up their right to collective bargain their wages and conditions, and commit themselves to stay for a fixed time.

As a quid pro quo those due for the chop should be first in line for the newly civilianised jobs, and any actual layoffs spaced out, to give time for those affected to find an acceptable outside job. It is not as though the Defence Force will go bankrupt in the meantime.

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare by Keith Locke on Wed, June 29th, 2011   

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