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Selfish Strike Action Hits Community at Christmas

The Hurunui District Council has received notification from the Public Service Association (PSA) that five of the Hurunui District Council’s 10 utilities officers will begin strike action on 28 December 2017.

The strike action is due to a demand for a doubling of the allowance that they receive for on-call work. The strike means the utilities officers will make themselves unavailable for on-call work.

Water is an essential service and the strike action comes at the worst possible time as the summer season puts pressure on the district’s water supplies. This is a crucial period where a motivated workforce is required to keep up with the demand of this critical resource. The striking PSA members are refusing to work to conditions normally expected of the role, which have been in place for a number of years.

Infrastructure Services Delivery Manager, Dan Harris, says the strike unfairly burdens the remaining team members as it puts more stress on them to deliver the services in the already challenging summer period. “This selfish action will leave their colleagues to pick up the slack and carry the workload through a busy period. At this time of year there is greater pressure on our water networks, as the requirement for people and stock to be kept watered increases.”

Chief Executive Hamish Dobbie, says that the employees taking strike action already receive a higher remuneration than their peers working for local government in other districts, and are paid above the industry benchmark payment scale. “The PSA demand for a 100% increase for the on-call allowance is totally unreasonable. Demanding a higher allowance to tolerate an apparent health and safety risk is inappropriate.”

In order to reach an agreement on a collective contract, the council has issued a lock-out notice to the utilities officers. The council will do all it can with the support of existing staff to manage the water supply networks over the period the strike is taking place over, so no consumers should experience a deterioration in service levels.

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