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Council welcomes ERA decision

22 April 2005

Council welcomes Employment Relations Authority decision despite Union strike notice

The Christchurch City Council welcomes the decision today by the Employment Relations Authority to direct the Council and Southern Local Government Officers Union to mediation.

The Authority made the decision to send the matter to mediation after receiving the Union’s application for facilitation.

The Employment Relations Authority accepted the Councils’ proposal that the two parties enter mediation, and decided to set a hearing date (13 May) where it will decide whether it will approve facilitation as the next step.

The Council will challenge facilitation on the grounds that other ways in which to resolve the current dispute, including mediation, have not yet been attempted, and facilitation would simply protract the negotiations further.

“We haven’t exhausted any of the available options – in fact no attempt has been made to mediate the issues under dispute,” says Council General Manager of Human Resources and leader of the Council Negotiation Team, Philippa Jones.

“The Council is astounded that the union has served notice of strike action on the same day that the Employment Relations Authority ordered the parties to mediation. This makes the Council question the Union’s commitment to the process of mediation,” Ms Jones says.

Facilitation, which is a new and relatively untested procedure, and is a more formal legal process which will extend the bargaining process for many weeks. It is in the common interest of staff and Council to reach settlement of the collective agreement through mediation, but the Union’s continued actions may well lead the parties down the path of a long, and protracted process of formal facilitation, she says.

ENDS

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