25 September 2023

UNITED STATES: Firefighter cuts cost 1,100 jobs

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The US Government has announced it will abolish a Forest Service program that trains disadvantaged young people for wildland firefighting and other jobs in rural communities.

The move will mean that 1,100 employees will lose their jobs — believed to be the largest number of Federal job cuts in a decade.

The Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centres enrol more than 3,000 students a year across rural America.

The soon-to-close centres are in Montana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Virginia, Washington State, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon.

In Congress, members of both parties objected to the plan.

The drawdown of the program, beginning in September, will result in the largest layoffs of PS employees since the military base realignments and closures of 2010 and 2011.

Nine of the centres will close and another 16 will be taken over by private companies and possibly State Governments.

White House officials said many of the Forest Service operations were low-performing, with inefficiencies and high costs, and a reboot was necessary.

Chief of the Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen said she had learned of the decision from Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue four days previously.

“We don’t have all the answers,” Ms Christiansen told employees, many of whom asked when and how they would be formally notified that they would lose their jobs and whether they would receive pay until that happened

She called the decision “high-level and pretty quick”.

“I know many of you have never heard what a RIF is and all that goes with it,” Ms Christiansen said, referring to a Reduction In Force, the official Federal Government term for a layoff.

“We’re going to work through this together.”

Washington, DC, 25 May 2019

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