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Employment disputes likely out of local government reforms

29 November 2012

Employment disputes likely out of ill-conceived local government reforms
The Public Service Association is disappointed to see ill-conceived local government reform legislation pass into law, and warns it risks creating unwanted employment disputes.

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill narrowly passed its third reading this afternoon despite serious concerns raised in the select committee process and deadlock among committee MPs. The vast majority of the almost 700 submissions on the Bill voiced concern or opposition, including criticism from councils around the country.

The PSA believes that by forcing councils to pare back their spending on social, economic, cultural and environmental responsibilities, the government is waving a big stick over them and is seeking to exert more control over local body affairs.

“We now have a law which councils and communities never asked for and which the government has pushed through without taking on board the raft of opposition outlined in the submissions,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“It will only serve to undermine local decision-making and runs counter to the purpose of having democratically elected and accountable local bodies.”

The legislation extends the government’s public service staffing cap ideology into local government and will enable elected councillors, rather than chief executives, to set policy on staff numbers and salary levels.

Brenda Pilott says this has big implications for council staff everywhere and the potential to provoke employment disputes.

“The PSA will be keeping a close eye how councils manage their staff and employment policy in the light of this legislation, and will be prepared to challenge it legally if necessary,” she says.


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