Boss' celebratory email after redundancies slammed

By Edward Gay

Photo / File photo/Thinkstock
Photo / File photo/Thinkstock

A Ministry of Justice boss has been rebuked by a court manager after sending out a congratulatory email when staff were being made redundant.

Ministry of Justice Secretary Andrew Bridgman sent an email to all staff, telling them about a "leadership forum" meeting which gathered together managers from Wellington and around the country.

"... One of the themes that came out of today was the need for us to celebrate more often ..."

He also congratulated the Ministry for coming 14th in the Randstad awards - an annual survey which aims to measure the attractiveness of large employers.

"I'm extremely proud of the Ministry's ranking this year and I think it is definitely worth celebrating."

He said more work needed to be done on the "working atmosphere" but encouraged staff to "take a bow".

But less than half-an-hour later, Mr Bridgman and the entire 3500 Ministry of Justice staff - including Wellington bureaucrats, staff in the country's courts, and public defence lawyers - received a second email.

The message, from now former area court manager Chris Alleyne, was dripping with sarcasm.

It begins: "Thanks Andrew, your timing is impeccable."

Mr Alleyne criticised his boss for the timing of the email.

"This coming on a day that will be the last day at the Ministry for a significant number of long-serving and loyal managers who have been swept aside because of some flawed philosophy that they don't know what they are doing ..."

One of those managers is Mr Alleyne himself.

"What a day to pick to send that out. I thought: "Bugger it, I'm not going to let that pass."

Mr Alleyne - who managed courts in Christchurch, Ashburton, Westport and four other areas in the South Island - said he did not hit the "reply-to-all" button by accident and had sent the email to literally hundreds of his colleagues.

More than 50 colleagues from around the country had emailed him back, thanking him for his comments.

Mr Alleyne said others had picked up the phone to voice their support, fearing that the Ministry may check email messages following the embarrassment.

He said Mr Bridgman's email was "too much" after two years of the courts being disrupted by earthquake damage, and some staff members losing loved ones.

He said Christchurch courts have only just got back on their feet but are now ahead of the national average in waiting times and other targets set by bosses in Wellington.
Asked about morale, Mr Alleyne said it was "pretty low".

"Even though a lot of people aren't effected directly, nevertheless they're feeling bad about how the managers are being treated."

Mr Alleyne said he is taking a personal grievance claim against the Ministry about losing his job.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Justice said there would be no comment on the emails and any potential fallout.

He said the Ministry had cut more than 38 full-time equivalent positions which is estimated to save $5 million a year.

- NZ Herald

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