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Fisheries Staff To Strike If Talks Fail

Fisheries Staff To Strike If Talks Fail

Staff at the Ministry of Fisheries, including fishery officers who protect fishing stocks from poachers, are to take industrial action if negotiations this week fail to produce a settlement.

“Fisheries staff are frustrated that after 10 months of negotiation they haven’t been able to reach a fair settlement with the Ministry,” says Public Service Association National Secretary, Richard Wagstaff. “This is despite the Ministry agreeing in December to address their key concerns.”

“There are a number of issues concerning their pay, travel allowance, annual leave and fitness testing that remain unresolved,” says National Union of Public Employees Secretary, Martin Cooney.

The PSA and NUPE have been negotiating with the Ministry of Fisheries to renew a collective agreement,

since September last year. The 220 staff covered by the collective include fishery officers, investigators, scientists, scientific observers, and clerical and administrative staff.

Negotiations resume on Wednesday July 23 and continue on Thursday July 24.

“If these talks do not produce a fair settlement then Fisheries staff will begin a two week-campaign of industrial action next Monday, including a series of one-day strikes,” says Richard Wagstaff. “This action shows Fisheries staff are determined to have their concerns addressed.”

The industrial campaign will include fishery officers refusing to enforce commercial fishing quotas and recreational catch limits. The action will occur in different parts of the country over 24-hour periods.

“The Ministry does not have the ability to replace all of the fisheries officers taking action,’’ says Martin Cooney. “This means they will struggle to stop poachers taking as many fish or shellfish as they want in the areas where fisheries officers are taking action.”

“Fisheries staff do not want to leave our fishing stocks unprotected,” says Richard Wagstaff. “They’re being forced to take action as this appears to be the only way to get the Ministry to take their concerns seriously.”

The first week of action will run from Monday July 28 to Friday August 1. It will involve a ban on over time and overnight travel and a refusal to do work outside the office, such as policing fishing quotas and catch limits. The action will begin at three Fisheries offices in the upper North Island - Kaitaia, Whangarei and Auckland- then move down the country over the course of the week.

The ban on overtime, overnight travel and work outside the office will occur at Ministry of Fisheries offices in this order:

Monday July 28 – Kaitaia, Whangarei and Auckland.

Tuesday July 29 – Hamilton, Tauranga,Opotiki, Gisborne and New Plymouth

Wednesday July 30 - Napier, Masterton, Wellington City and Petone

Thursday July 31 - Nelson, Blenheim and Christchurch

Friday August 1 - Dunedin and Invercargill.

If the collective agreement remains unsettled the action will escalate the following week. From Monday August 4 to Friday August 8, Fisheries staff involved in the dispute will begin a week of 24-hour strikes.

The 24 hour strikes, involving 220 Fisheries staff, will occur in the following order:

Monday August 4 - Kaitaia, Whangarei and Auckland.

Tuesday August 5 – Hamilton, Tauranga,Opotiki, Gisborne and New Plymouth

Wednesday August 6 - Napier, Masterton, Wellington City and Petone

Thursday August 7 - Nelson, Blenheim and Christchurch

Friday August 8 - Dunedin and Invercargill.


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