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Fisheries Officers To Take Industrial Action

Fisheries Officers To Take Industrial Action

Fisheries officers will be taking industrial action over the Christmas/New Year break because the Ministry of Fisheries won't allow them, and other staff at the Ministry, to negotiate their pay.

The fisheries officers police quotas for commercial fishing boats and catch limits for recreational and customary fishers. They also investigate and prosecute people who sell fish caught illegally.

A range of industrial actions are being considered, from refusing to carry out administrative work, to refusing to enforce fishing quotas and bag limits which restrict the number and size of fish and shellfish that fishers are able to catch.

An industrial action committee, that includes fisheries officers and other Ministry of Fisheries staff involved in the dispute, will meet this Sunday, December 23. It will decide what industrial action will be taken and when.

"The fisheries officers are taking industrial action because the Ministry of Fisheries refuses to allow them, and other staff at the Ministry, the right to negotiate their pay," says PSA National Secretary, Richard Wagstaff.

"This is despite the fact that the Government expects its departments to negotiate minimum pay rates and include these in collective agreements," says Richard Wagstaff.

The PSA and NUPE (the National Union of Public Employees) have been negotiating with the Ministry of Fisheries to renew their collective employment agreements since September.

The two unions represent a total of 220 staff at the Ministry. As well as the fisheries officers their members includes scientists, scientific observers, clerical and administrative staff and policy analysts.

The two unions have been working hard to try and break the deadlock in the negotiations and yesterday involved a mediator.

"We're extremely disappointed mediation did not produce a breakthrough," says NUPE secretary, Martin Cooney. "That's because the Ministry continues to deny 220 of its staff the fundamental right of negotiating their pay."

Richard Wagstaff says if fisheries officers refuse to enforce commercial fishing quotas and recreational catch limits poachers would be able to take as many fish or shellfish as they want and wouldn't have to worry about the size.

"Fisheries officers and other Ministry staff are dedicated to their work and do not want to leave our fishing stocks unprotected," says Richard Wagstaff.

"But the Ministry has left them no choice but to take industrial action in support of their claim to be able to negotiate how much they're paid."


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