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City Council surprised at strike possibility

24 February 2005

Christchurch City Council surprised at strike possibility

Philippa Jones, Christchurch City Council’s general manager human resources, says the Council is surprised to learn employee members of its largest trade union have decided to strike.

“We were surprised and disappointed. The union officials in the bargaining team have been telling us that we were making progress,” Ms Jones says. “For this to now come from the membership suggests that the people we're talking to around the table don't have the mandate of the membership to reach a settlement with us. That's disappointing.”

Council management has been asking the union negotiators to consider changes in areas which would ensure the Council could be more responsive to community needs and which would make sure pay levels reflect the market so that the Council can recruit and keep good staff.

“We're not trying to reduce salaries or conditions – no-one’s suggesting they should go back to a 40-hour week, lose their five weeks’ holiday and generous sick leave or uncapped redundancy provisions – but improving this union agreement is a very important part of wider changes taking place in the council,” she says.

“The changes being proposed by the council have to do with making Christchurch City Council more responsive to the needs of the community – things like more easily being able to open libraries on Sunday because the community has told us that's what they want.” Ms Jones says she is unable to speculate about the effect of any strike on the community because she has yet to see a formal notice from the Southern Local Government Officers Union. However, the decision whether to take part in any strike action is up to each union member.

ENDS

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