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DOL To Strike For A Better Pay System

May 16, 2008

Department of Labour To Strike For A Better Pay System

Department of Labour staff are to strike for an improved pay offer and because the performance management system, used for setting their pay, is confusing, inconsistent and unfair.

They voted to take industrial action at a series of meetings organised by their union, the PSA.

The PSA has today served the Department of Labour with notice of action by more than 750 of its staff. The action includes a series of two-hour strikes spread over a two-week period beginning on Queen’s Birthday, June 2, and running until June 16.

A ban on overtime, doing unpaid work and attending department conferences and training is due to begin on Monday May 26.

“We’ve been obliged to serve the department with a minimum off two weeks notice because border security staff, involved in the action, provide an essential service,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.

The border security staff, taking action, monitor passengers arriving on international flights at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports. They have the power to refuse entry to passengers who are trying to enter New Zealand illegally.

Other staff taking action include health and safety inspectors who enforce health and safety requirements at workplaces and investigate accidents at work; labour inspectors who ensure workers receive the conditions they’re entitled to; mediators who help employers and workers solve workplace problems and immigration officers.

“Department of Labour staff are taking action for an improved pay offer and because their current pay setting system is confusing, inconsistent and unfair,” says Richard Wagstaff.

They’ve rejected an offer of a 3% pay rise and are seeking a 4% increase. They also want their performance management system scrapped and replaced with a fair and transparent system for setting their pay.

“They’ve lost faith in their performance management system because it’s unfair and doesn’t work,” says Richard Wagstaff. “They’re being assessed and told they deserve a pay rise of a certain amount but then receive a lower increase.”

A staff member, whose performance was assessed at the second highest level, should have got a 7% pay rise but because of the way the system operates he received a 3% rise. “That’s unfair and confusing. As this worker said ‘I am running hard to go backwards,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Under the current system the average starting salary for some jobs is more than the average salary paid to people who’ve been doing the job for several years.

The PSA surveyed Department of Labour staff about the performance management system. Just under 200 responded. Asked if the system provides a fair, transparent and easily understood method of delivering increases to salary, 87% said no. Asked if the system had contributed to their productivity, and therefore aided the department in meeting its objectives, 80% said no.

The PSA is seeking the introduction of new salary system in which pay scales and the salary progression system are fair, transparent and included in the staff collective agreement.

“Department of Labour staff are going on strike because they’re serious about scrapping their current pay setting system,” says Richard Wagstaff.”They hope the department will recognise the current system doesn’t work and will work with them to introduce the fair and transparent system they’ve proposed.’’


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