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Come to Arbitration Says Spotless

3 April 2008

Come to Arbitration Says Spotless

Spotless Services, the hospital service company at the centre of a dispute with Government and the District Health Boards over funding for a staff pay rise has called upon the DHBs to enter arbitration on the issue as quickly as possible.

“There has been a feast of name calling and demonisation of Spotless in the news media by the Union the SFWU, the CTU, the DHB leadership and even a representative of Government. We need less of that unproductive activity and a total focus on finding a solution,” says Peter Jennings, spokesperson for Spotless Services.

“The situation is very simple. Government made a commitment to fund the cost of the pay rise agreed with the Unions last year – a pay rise that applied across the whole sector, not just to Spotless staff. The DHBs have come up $1.8 million short in their contribution to Spotless.

“This is not a small amount of money for this year and when it is considered that this sum would be the responsibility of Spotless year after year from now, it is certainly well outside what Spotless is able to pay,” says Jennings.

As a result of the shortfall Spotless has not drawn down any of the money from the DHBs and will not do so until such time as they can guarantee that they will pay the full amount.

In this situation Spotless was merely the go-between, the paymaster. It was an obligation entered into by Government and the DHBs through Spotless as the employer.

“This should have been a simple matter,” says Jennings.

The shortfall came about as a result of flaws in the financial analysis of the costs of the settlement. There was an element of fault by both the DHBs and Spotless. This is not a matter of identifying fault in the arithmetic. It is a matter of a categorical obligation to our staff entered into by Government and the DHBs to fund this pay settlement.

“This conflict has all the hallmarks of developing into a “he says…she says” affair. The simplest way to solve this conflict is to cut through all the rhetoric and involve a third party to make an independent assessment.

“Spotless supports in principle arbitration where a third party assesses the situation and makes a judgement and the parties agree before the arbitration that the decision will be binding.

“Considerable concern has been expressed for lower paid workers in our workforce. The best thing we can all do for these people at the moment is find a resolution to this dispute before they lose more wages through strike action,” says Jennings.


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