Month: February 2024

Border security at risk with plans to cut staff at Customs

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.” 

Rest in peace, Fa’anana Efeso Collins

From E tū National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh:

E tū is deeply saddened by the passing of Fa’anana Efeso Collins. Our thoughts are with his family and his community as they come to terms with this shocking loss.

Efeso was a friend to E tū and the union movement. He was a Solidarity Member of E tū, and many of our members and staff got to know him well during the 2022 local election campaign, with many of his campaign activities hosted at our Auckland office.

He was a champion of the Living Wage during his time on Auckland Council. He took the time to really engage with our members, to hear their concerns, and to represent them as a community leader. Efeso spoke at our union’s most recent conference, sharing how his own experience shaped the politician he became, especially fighting for some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people in our communities.

Efeso’s work was an inspiring example of values-driven activism and leadership. We will honour his memory as we continue to fight for fairness and justice in our workplaces and wider communities. 

From the E tū Komiti Pasifika:

We send heartfelt condolences, prayers and alofa to Fia, Kaperiela, and Asalemo, after the tragic passing of le afioga Fa’anana Efeso Collins MPthis is great loss for their aiga, friends, colleagues, and the many communities in Auckland, all throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific, and beyond. 

Fa’anana Efeso was a natural leader. He always fought for Pasifika workers, their families, and other marginalised groups. He was dedicated family man, community leader, and servant of God. He was honest and passionate, and an advocate on issues that many others overlooked, such as injustice for workers, racism, and discrimination. He inspired hope and promoted practical solutions for workers, helping them to rise up and demand fair treatment, justice, and equity in their workplaces. He walked the talk and was a strong supporter of just and secure workplaces where all would prosper, not just the few.

Fa’anana Efeso, your unique presence, charm, handsome smile, wit, intelligence, humour, kindness, compassion, and inspiring courage will be sorely missed. You will be fondly remembered as a genuine and true warrior for the people.

Fa’afetai tele lava mo lou Tautua. Ia Manuia lau malaga Fa’anana Efeso Collins, a great friend, brother and comrade of our union, E tū.

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