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Justice Ministry striking for two hours

November 3, 2009
For immediate use
Justice Ministry striking for two hours this afternoon

More than 1800 Ministry of Justice staff who collect fines and work at courts and tribunals throughout the country are walking off the job and striking for two hours this afternoon.

The two-hour strike starts at 1pm today and involves more than 1800 Justice Ministry staff who belong to the Public Service Association.

This is the third time these Justice workers have gone on strike. Last week they staged two one-hour strikes and are also continuing a ‘work to rule’ in which they take their work breaks together. The strikes and the ‘work to rule’ have been shutting down court sittings throughout the country.

“Justice workers are escalating their action and striking for two hours today,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff. “That’s because the Ministry still won’t address the fact it pays its staff less than other public service workers due to an unfair pay system.”

The Ministry’s own figures show that on average Justice workers are paid 6.3% below the pay median for the public service. The under payment is even worse for many Justice staff. The Ministry’s 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.

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“There’s no justice in being underpaid for running an essential service like our justice system,” says Richard Wagstaff. “All we want is to work with the Ministry to address their pay issues in a fair way that the Ministry can afford.”

“The Ministry claims closing the pay gap between its workers 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.”

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

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

“The Ministry needs to begin addressing this underpayment and developing 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, when actually it can’t afford not to, because the cost of fixing its pay problems will keep rising if it doesn’t start finding solutions.”

“We 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.”

“We’re 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 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 working together to develop fair, sustainable and affordable solutions to the Ministry’s pay issues,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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