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Use Statistics NZ Staff Escalate Industrial Action

PSA MEDIA RELEASE November 9, 2007 For Immediate

Use Statistics NZ Staff Escalate Industrial Action

Staff at Statistics NZ, who belong to the PSA, have escalated their industrial action.

Field interviewers have stopped sending information on price changes used to compile the Food Price Index (FPI) and the Cost Post Index (CPI).

They are continuing to gather the information from retail outlets, such as supermarkets and petrol stations, but have stopped sending it to Statistics NZ.

"The ban on sending data on the price of items like fruit, vegetables and petrol, will continue until the end of November," says Richard Wagstaff, National Secretary of the PSA, which represents more than 540 Statistics NZ workers.

Normally the field interviewers send the department sheets updating the prices charged for fruit, vegetables and petrol, once a week.

"They're required to follow a strict timetable for sending this data so Statistics NZ can compile the FPI and CPI indexes, which are key indicators of how the economy is performing," says Richard Wagstaff.

"The ban disrupts the flow of this vital information and means Statistics NZ will be delayed in doing the work needed to put those key indexes together," says Richard Wagstaff.

The department's efforts to make up that delay will be hampered by the fact that staff involved in the dispute have stopped doing overtime.

The field interviewers have also cut back the transmission of information gathered by interviewing people in their homes. They normally send this to Statistics NZ, from laptop computers, on a daily basis. They've stopped sending that data between Sundays and Thursdays. That rolling action will continue until the end of November.

"Statistics NZ staff have escalated their industrial action because the department continues to refuse to let the bulk of them negotiate their pay," says Richard Wagstaff.

"This is despite the fact that the Government expects its departments to negotiate minimum pay rates and include these in collective agreements."

Statistics NZ also insist on paying the field interviewers less than their office-based staff who interview people by phone.

"This is simply unfair," says Richard Wagstaff. "There's no justification for paying field interviewers less than office based interviewers when they're doing the same type of work."

Field interviewers earning the starting rate of $14 an hour are paid $3.18 an hour less than phone interviewers. Those on the top rate, of $16.50 an hour, earn $4.40 less.

"Statistics NZ staff began negotiating in June and remain committed to their claims because they are fair and reasonable," says Richard Wagstaff. "They're determined to stand together until the department sits down and negotiates a fair and reasonable settlement."


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