Staff affected by this week’s job cut proposals are shell shocked and frustrated saying leaders handled the announcements poorly.

Earlier this week the Ministry of Education proposed to cut 565 roles, including more than 200 vacancies, while Oranga Tamariki cut 447, including 70 vacancies.

policy advisor for special projects at the Education Ministry said teams and managers impacted were not consulted prior to Wednesday’s all-staff meeting.

“When asked about that at the hui, which is recorded, he [the general manager] said, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been too busy’.”

The special projects team works on the school lunches programme, which is set to lose eight nutrition experts and at least six advisers.

The worker said staff who were directly affected had been contacted before the meeting, but it caught everyone else off guard.

The ministry did not answer questions about why wider teams and managers were not also consulted.

“As with all change, the ministry follows a formal change process. This commences with all staff announcements and a period of consultation with affected staff.

“The ministry understands that change and uncertainty is unsettling and has encouraged staff to seek support as needed,” corporate leader Zoe Griffiths said.

The policy advisor said regional staff working in schools were being cut and that would not improve the school lunch service.

“It’ll be very hard for us to work with the suppliers to ensure that the meals delivered are actually safe and appropriate. Every nutritionist nearly will be gone.

“Part of their work is menu development. In the office they do have to review and order the food that’s being served. They often do assessments, secret shoppers type work where they go around schools and look at the food and then grade it. But they are certainly field staff, no question.”

Griffiths reiterated that all proposed job changes were designed to avoid direct impacts on services to children, teachers and principals.

The policy advisor said the ministry had given a stark warning about speaking to media and people were scared about the consequences if they did.

“I just can’t believe that people being treated like this. Honestly, I understand there has to be cutbacks. No one is denying that. The bit that has been the most shocking is that our frontline groups are being targeted more than our national office groups.”

Another Education Ministry staff member whose job is proposed to be disestablished said it had been a punch in the guts.

He said staff working directly with schools had been building trust between teachers and the ministry but he was worried that momentum would be lost.

“It’s slowly building those relationships of trust, so starting to see the ministry as an ally rather than being irrelevant or, you know, there with a big stick. That might be a perception which is probably a little unfair but that’s a perception.

“Suddenly now we’re actually being seen as allies in the teaching and learning journey but that’s all going to stop.”

Meanwhile, an Oranga Tamariki staff member said workers were feeling scared and hopeless.

She was particularly upset about the prime minister’s comments about cutting back waste in the public sector.

After the announcements this week, Christopher Luxon said: “New Zealanders expect us to make sure that we cut down the waste, we end the wasteful spending, and actually we prioritise our frontline services, our public services.”

The worker said that was unfair.

“We are not waste. How dare you reference us in that way. We are humans. People who worked tirelessly for the ministry – long long hours because, well, that’s what we committed to do for you.

“The ‘waste to cut’ as you so flippantly put it? We’re humans with families to feed, bills, mortgages or rents to pay – and who now cannot do so, who will end up with nothing and fear homelessness. This is who the thousands are that you reference so dismissively.”

Earlier, Luxon said he appreciated some cuts would be real job losses and that it would be a tough time for those impacted.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has been has approached for comment.