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MFISH Disappointed In Nupe Decision

MFISH Disappointed In Nupe Decision

The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) is disappointed at the announcement by the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), that their members, about 60 of whom are employed by MFish, will be proceeding with strike action from next week over the question of the safety of officers in the field.

"Measures introduced to the Ministry in the last 12 months in recognition of these health and safety concerns include increases in staffing in remote areas, funding allocated for improved self defence training, a new nationwide radio system, and maintaining a close operational relationship with New Zealand Police," said National Manager Compliance Dave Wood.

"Both management and staff of the Ministry have been concerned for some time to ensure the safety and protection of Fishery Officers and equipment such as OC (pepper) spray and batons is under serious and current consideration by MFish management.

"In fact, the Ministry indicated only yesterday that it will make its recommendations on this matter to the Minister of Fisheries within 10 days. Any industrial action on this issue at this time is, at the very best, premature.

"The introduction of defensive equipment of this nature is a significant move for the Ministry and it requires full and proper consideration."

NUPE has also linked the provision of this equipment with an increase in remuneration that they are seeking. Their Collective Employment Agreement which, although rolled over since February 2003 (a practice allowable under employment law), has not been agreed.

In commenting on this, Ministry Human Resources Manager Bruce McGregor said: As part of our negotiation with NUPE the Ministry had both the Fishery Surveillance Officer and Fishery Investigation Officer positions independently assessed in 2003 to determine whether they were in line with the market. Based on the remuneration system in use by the Ministry for determining salaries for all positions in the Ministry, Fishery Officer salaries are not undervalued."

The Ministry has an annual remuneration review system which this year will see Fishery Officers receive a 2.4% increase from 1 July 2004. Those who take up the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme will receive a further 3% (of salary) annual contribution from MFish. This means that from 1 July 2004 the average fixed salary for Fishery Officers, including these increases, is $58,500.

There are about 120 Fishery Officers employed by the Ministry. It is a sought after position with over 500 applications being received in response to a recent job advertisement for Fishery Officers in various locations around the country.

"We do not believe that there are any grounds for this type of action," said Mr McGregor.

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