Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says a two-month Navy shutdown over Christmas has been ordered to give staff a rest as the Navy continues to grapple with staff shortages. The shutdown will involve all ships not on operational duties and some staff will be allowed to work from home. Mr Fitzgibbon says the Government is working to address staff shortages in the Navy. "We're doing a lot of work trying to find new and innovative ways both to retain skilled people and recruit new people and this is an interim initiative designed to just give some rest and respite to people in Navy where we have our biggest challenge," he told a reporter."These people have been facing an extended period of operational tempo and it's just a way of saying thank you and encouraging them to stay in the service rather than leave." He has also not ruled out further Christmas shutdowns in the future. "There's no reason why we can't have a longer stand down period each Christmas and we're looking at all sorts of ways of encouraging people to stay," he said. Mr Fitzgibbon says a review is under way into family work balance in the Navy. "By the first part of next year we should be in a position to place some new initiatives to help us better retain those people and indeed recoup more people to the services more generally," he said.