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Extent of job losses at Invermay remain hidden

Despite growing concern in the agriculture and science sectors, both AgResearch management and the Minister responsible are continuing to hide the true extent of job losses at AgResearch’s Invermay campus, Labour’s MP for Dunedin North David Clark says.

“Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce is insulting not only farmers across New Zealand but all Southerners as well.

“On several occasions, I have requested accurate figures on how many staff have left the Dunedin-based campus since its restructuring was announced last year. The Minister has only ever provided numbers of staff who have resigned or retired.

“Steven Joyce has fudged answers to avoid explaining how many staff fleeing the organisation have opted for redundancy, rather than continuing work in a highly stressed organisation.

“AgResearch is losing critical research capability around the country. Waikato University Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth has exposed major staff losses at AgResearch’s Grasslands campus in Palmerston North. Leading AgResearch scientist Dr Susanne Rasmussen has resigned and moved overseas, as have three of her eight research team members.

“If you add the number of AgResearch staff that have either resigned or retired in recent months to the Public Service Association’s conservative 6 per cent estimate of staff being made redundant in the past year, then this restructuring has already cost the organisation up to 20 per cent of its total workforce.

“These numbers contrast starkly with rhetoric around a well-planned and executed staff retention strategy.

“AgResearch itself acknowledge that only 58 per cent of their stakeholders are happy with the research priorities they have set.

“NZ’s largest Crown Research Institute is in meltdown and its leadership seems incapable of managing the situation. Why is Steven Joyce not stepping in? He signed off the restructuring proposal yet refuses to perform his duty to the taxpayer by holding its board and management to account,” David Clark says.