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Statistics NZ Jeopardising Key Economic Indicators

Statistics NZ's Hardline Stance Jeopardising Key Economic Indicators

Statistics NZ is jeopardising the release of important economic indicators by refusing to let the bulk of its staff negotiate their pay.

Statistics NZ has today announced that it's postponing the publication of the November 2007 Food Price Index (FPI) due to industrial action by more than 550 staff who belong to the PSA.

"Statistics NZ are entirely to blame for the delay in publishing the Food Price Index," says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff. "That's because it continues to ignore Government bargaining parameters by refusing to allow the bulk of its staff the ability to negotiate their pay."

The Government recognises that workers should be able to negotiate improvements in their rates of pay but Statistics NZ has been denying that right to the bulk of its staff since their negotiations began way back in June.

Richard Wagstaff says Statistics NZ staff are extremely disappointed that the department has today rejected a proposal from the PSA bargaining team for a return to negotiations. "Statistics NZ had indicated to us that it was willing to resume negotiations and we submitted a proposal we believed could have led to a lifting of the industrial action and a resolution of the dispute," says Richard Wagstaff. "We are extremely disappointed that the department has today rejected that proposal and is responsible for this dispute dragging on."

The key points in the PSA proposal are a negotiated adjustment to pay rates for staff covered by the department's main collective agreement and a job evaluation for field interviewers who go into people's homes to gather information. They are paid up to $4.40 an hour less than Statistics NZ staff who interview by phone and are asking to be paid the same rate of pay.

"By rejecting the PSA proposal Statistics NZ has left the staff no choice but to continue their industrial action," says Richard Wagstaff.

Office staff will continue an overtime ban that began on September 30. Field interviewers will maintain their ban on submitting pricing data used to compile the Food Price Index (FPI) and the Consumers Price Index (CPI). This ban is due to end on November 30.

"This industrial action is having an impact as can be seen by today's announcement that publication of the FPI will be delayed," says Richard Wagstaff.

By maintaining its hardline attitude Statistics NZ is also jeopardising the publication of major economic indicators such as the Balance of Payments figures and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, due to be released next month.

A third major economic indicator, the Consumers Price Index (CPI) is due in January. Around 20% of the prices of good and services, that make up the CPI basket, are food items recorded in the FPI.

"The GDP, Balance of Payments and CPI are key economic indicators monitored closely by the financial world, the business sector and the government. Statistics NZ is putting them at risk," says Richard Wagstaff.

The department is also obliged to supply this information to the OECD and the International Monetary Fund which compile international comparisons of these economic indicators. "Statistics NZ staff are well aware that many people rely on the information they produce and are not taking industrial action lightly," says Richard Wagstaff. "But they feel they've been left no choice because the department is refusing to take their legitimate claims seriously."


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