"Defence moral hits new lows" / "Pay rise" (2x articles)


Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!
Dec 15, 2006
New Zealand
The Defence Force has revealed it's losing staff to the lucrative Australian mining industry as a new survey shows morale has hit a fresh low.
Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said Australian mining companies were ''actively recruiting'' in the Devonport area near the Auckland naval base.
''The mining industry is one the military find very hard to compete with. The salary package is often twice, if not more. The Australian military is being stripped as well.''
The Navy was particularly affected because it handled large equipment.
''That's what the mining industry deals with as well, large cutting machines, large engines and vehicles. Any type of mechanical trade is being picked up.''
Jones said the Australian departures were one of the main reasons for a 22.3 per cent attrition rate in the Navy.
According to the auditor-general the Defence Force had lost almost 1000 personnel in the past two years, going from 14,577 to 13,667.
In an effort to save $400 million the Government has embarked on a process of civilianising up to 600 roles.
That process had badly affected morale with Rear Admiral Jack Steer, vice-chief of the Defence Force, telling Parliament earlier this year that it would not force any more redundancies because it had been ''too damaging''.
The most recent workplace survey released today shows morale has continued to fall and is now at its lowest level, with more than 40 per cent of staff saying they intended to leave.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman told the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee about 73 per cent of personnel rated their experience in the force as satisfactory, good or excellent.
However, the Government wouldn't want to see a 22.3 per cent attrition rate in the Navy ''year on year''.
The changes had not been without problems, he acknowledged.
Losing staff to the Australian mining industry was a nationwide issue, Coleman later told reporters.
While the force could handle all the disasters it had contingency plans for, Jones said it would be under strain if it had to sustain another East Timor-type deployment with more than 1000 people.
Navy staff losses had led to its inshore patrol boats having less days at sea and sailors more time at home.
Jones said the benefits of that weren't being seen yet but it was one way the force was trying to improve the quality of life for staff.
''The Navy, the Army and the Air Force remain amazing places to work. They are fun organisations full of amazing people.''
The changes they were going through were going to be ''very good for the Defence Force''.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman is considering giving the Defence Force its first pay rise in four years after a new survey showed record numbers of troops plan to leave.
The latest attitude survey, released yesterday, shows morale has plummeted to its lowest level – and more than 40 per cent of personnel surveyed said they intended to leave the force.
Morale has been falling since the Government embarked on making 600 positions civilian roles as part of a drive to save $400 million.
Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones yesterday revealed the armed services, particularly the navy, was losing staff to the lucrative Australian mining industry, with some companies "actively recruiting" in the Devonport area near the Auckland naval base.
The Defence Force could not compete with offers of more than twice staff salary packages, he said.
The flood of troops to Australian mines was one of the main reasons for a 22.3 per cent attrition rate in the navy.
The auditor-general's office said Defence Force numbers had reduced from 14,577 to 13,667 in the past two years.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman told the foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee yesterday the Government was aware of sinking morale.
"We acknowledge we've got to do some positive stuff."
Young soldiers about to be deployed were "jumping out of their skins about their job" but people who had served longer had found the changes difficult, he said.
General Jones said the Defence Force had a range of strategies to boost morale but conceded there was "no silver bullet".
The loss in navy personnel had led to its inshore patrol vessels having fewer days at sea and sailors were being given more time at home to lift morale.
Wages were also being looked at, he said.
"Now we're making the savings, we're in a position to start negotiating with the State Services Commission and Treasury about how we reinvest in our people, to take away that pain and dissatisfaction and to show that people remain our first priority."
Labour's defence spokesman, Iain Lees-Galloway, said morale was "dropping through the floor" because of a four-year wage freeze.
Dr Coleman said the Defence Force had saved $25 million by not giving wage rises at the start of this financial year.
"We're looking at what we can do around pay but we can't really say any more than that at the moment. There will be money there for wage adjustments."
General Jones said despite the loss of personnel, the Defence Force had not lost "actual capability" but "we've lost depth of capability".
Although the force could handle all disasters for which it had contingency plans, it would strain to sustain another East Timor-type deployment.

It's interested that the last two governments have fucked Defence but in totally different ways. The costs cutting at all costs but this particular government all across the government sector is backfiring on them in a major way now. This is the third "department" they've had issues with while trying to cost cut, after foreign affairs, police and now defence.

I have a mate in the air force who is leaving because morale is horrible. The stories I've heard make it sound like in a year's time there will only be the guys close to retirement left, heh.

Mac_NZ, thoughts?
Honestly it's a shit fight. The guys they are losing are the senior Corporals and junior Sergeants. And by losing I mean bleeding out. These are the guys who have had enough of the BS and not bring able to do the jobs they are paid to do. What this result with in the future is a massive experience loss and junior ranks promoted fast to fill the short gap. Skills hard learned will be lost.

The answer to most of the problems is to sack the senior staff, they have feathered their nest and built little empires for to the detriment of the force for too long.

2 years ago I sat and listened to a spiel about how the focus would be on small combined arms combat teams as that was where we could achieve the most with our small size. Great said I. The next thing you know we are all away playing Bde FTX. That would be great if we had a Brigade! We can offer our allies more by having small highly trained units that can perform the basics well yet we pay lip service to that training and focus on pulling off Gucci moves like we're the 1st Armd or something. Pay is shit and the smoke and mirrors they pulled with the allowances and super was probably criminal.

For example if you lived in married service housing you were not entitled to the accommodation component, however if you partner was in the service they were entitled to it so he/she scored an extra 5600 a year. Great if your wife was in the service but for the 2/3 of the guys who married civvies it was a kick in the teeth. Guys living in barracks were given the 5600 but the rates on food and messing were put up to cover that. Guys just ended up moving into flats and the close knit community you had in barracks fell apart. A lot of Cpls etc found that the 5600 extra pushed them up into a higher tax bracket or caused massive increases in their child support payments due to the pay increase the army said they were getting of which they received none in the hand.

Sorry for the spelling and punctuation errors, I'm on my iPhone and the keypad on its as much good as a cock flavoured lollipop.
I think it has some pretty important implications for the way we influence the Pacific too. Thanks for the post, Mac, the thing about losing the Cpls and Sgts rings true as my mate, an LAC, was on an ex and had to do his role + a Sgt's as the WO with him didn't know how to do anything except use the internet on the equipment. All this because there actually weren't any Sgts in his unit, let alone Cpls to make up.
I heard the same kind of thing when I left the NZ Army in '96, middle management, SGTs, CPTs etc... where being headhunted as the Defence Force didn't treat them decently and compensate them enough to keep them in the force. That along with BS from the top will always gut a Military force.

I heard a quote years ago, "The best Generals left the Military when they were still Captains..."