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Justice Ministry staff strike again

PSA Media Release
October 29, 2009
Embargoed until 10.10am

Justice Ministry staff strike again

More than 1700 Ministry of Justice staff who collect fines and work at courts and tribunals throughout the country are walking off the job and striking again this morning.

The one-hour strike starts at 10.10am this morning and involves 1750 Ministry of Justice staff who belong to the Public Service Association.

“Justice workers are striking again today because they can’t get the Ministry to address their pay issues such as the fact that they’re paid less than other public service workers,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

The Ministry’s own figures show that on average Justice workers are paid 6.3% below the pay median for the public service. The underpayment is worse for many Justice staff. 1200 court registry officers, are paid 9.25% below the public service median for the work they do.

Most court registry officers are paid between $39,600 and $46,600 a year. Their highest pay rate is $53,600. Most court registry support officers are paid between $29,500 and $35,000.Their highest pay rate is $40,000.

“Where’s the justice in being underpaid for running an essential service like our justice system,” says Richard Wagstaff. “These workers are simply asking the Ministry to begin constructive negotiations on how we work together to address their pay issues in a fair way that the Ministry can afford.

”The Ministry claims that closing the pay gap between its staff and the rest of the public service, and establishing a pay structure that ensures its workers are fairly rewarded, will cost $100 million over three years.

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“The $100 million figure comes from the Ministry, not the PSA. It’s an inflated figure the Ministry is using, to exaggerate the size of its pay problems, to avoid addressing those problems,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“The fact is the Ministry is underpaying its staff and this is caused by an unfair and unjust pay system.”

“The Ministry needs to start addressing this underpayment and it needs to develop a transparent pay structure that ensures its workers are fairly paid for the work they do.”

“The Ministry claims it can’t afford to do this, but the reality is that it can’t afford not to. That’s because the cost of fixing its pay problems will keep rising if it doesn’t start finding solutions.”

“Justice staff taking action, and the PSA, recognise there’s a cost involved in resolving these pay issues and want to work with the Ministry to develop fair, sustainable solutions the Ministry can afford.”

“Staff and the PSA are prepared to look at closing the pay gap in stages to make it affordable for the Ministry.”

“We’ve told the Ministry we’re prepared to work with them to reduce their costs by finding ways of working more efficiently, identifying and eliminating wasteful spending and improving productivity. This would offset the cost of closing the pay gap and implementing a fair and transparent pay structure.”

“The Ministry says it’s made a realistic offer that the PSA has declined to take to its members. The offer was inadequate and staff have rejected it by taking industrial action.”

“The Ministry says it’s committed to resolving this dispute, so are the Justice workers taking industrial action and the PSA.

“The only way we’re going to resolve this dispute is by sitting down and working together to develop fair, sustainable and affordable solutions to the Ministry’s pay issues,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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