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Department of Labour Staff Vote For 24-Hr Strikes

June 18, 2008
For Immediate Use

Department of Labour Staff Vote To Take 24-Hour Strikes

Staff at the Department of Labour, who belong to the PSA, walked off the job again today.

They attended stopwork meetings where they voted to escalate their action, and embark on a series of 24-hour strikes, if the department does not improve the offer it made in negotiations for a new collective employment agreement.

It was the third two-hour strike by around 750 workers at the department in less than a week. It included border security officers at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports, health and safety inspectors, immigration officers, labour inspectors and industrial mediators.

PSA members at the department began negotiations to renew their collective agreement in September last year, seeking a new pay-setting system and a 4 percent across-the-board pay rise.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in addressing the workers’ claims,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff. “But there are still a few key issues to resolve, including the date that the 4% pay rise takes effect.”

The staff say the pay increase should be backdated to November 1 last year when their previous collective agreement expired.

“It’s not their fault these negotiations have been dragging on for nine months,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“They don’t want these talks to be drawn out any longer which is why they voted today to escalate their action to a series of 24-hour strikes if these final issues are not resolved.”

The PSA is required to give the department two weeks’ notice of any new industrial action because the border security staff at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports provide an essential service.

The union is filing notice of 14 24-hour strikes from Thursday July 3 to Thursday July 17.

“We will be returning to the negotiating table tomorrow and hope we can reach a fair settlement,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“But the staff have made it clear they’re prepared to escalate their strike action if the department continues to drag the chain.”

PSA members at the Department of Labour will also continue their ‘work-to-rule’ action, which includes a ban on overtime, until a fair settlement is reached.


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