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Justice workers resume strike action

PSA Media Release
November 30, 2009
For immediate use

Justice workers resume strike action

Justice Ministry staff, who collect fines and work at courts and tribunals throughout the country, are resuming their industrial action and will strike from 8.55am this morning.(Mon Nov 30)

The strike involves Justice Ministry workers who belong to the Public Service Association. It follows mediation on Thursday November 26 and fresh pay offers being exchanged on Friday November 27.

“The Justice workers suspended their industrial action during the mediation and had hoped that a settlement could be reached,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“A settlement was not reached because the Ministry is still failing to address the fact that its frontline staff are being paid less than the rest of the public service for running our justice system.”*

“During mediation it was discovered that the so-called demands of the PSA were in fact grossly exaggerated by the Ministry of Justice.”

“After looking at the figures it became clear that -while Justice staff are very poorly paid and putting this right will cost the Ministry - the PSA has been seeking incremental improvements designed to address this underpayment over time.”

“The cost of closing the pay gap between Justice staff and the rest of the public service is a small fraction of what the Ministry has been claiming to mislead the public.”

“The Ministry made a new offer that fell a long way short of addressing the fact its staff are paid on average 6.3% less than rest of the public service despite running the country’s justice system.”

“The Ministry offer consisted of a one-off lump sum payment of $750 that would have shrunk down to about $500 in the hand after it was taxed.”

“The Ministry is still refusing to give any of its staff a pay rise until July next year.”

“Clearly a one off payment of $500 in the hand does not address the fact that Justice staff pay rates are on average 6.3% lower than the rest of the public service.”

“The mediation also failed to produce a settlement because the Ministry rejected a counter offer from the PSA-led negotiating team.”

“We put forward a constructive offer that would have cost the Ministry a total of $10 million. It committed the parties to working together to find savings in the system but the Ministry rejected the offer as unaffordable.”

“What concerns our members is that the Ministry’s senior management, corporate office and human resources personnel all pocketed bonus payments earlier this year putting them ahead of the public service median.”

“They then handed $4 million back to Treasury because they didn’t think the Ministry would need it. They now find that the PSA claim is only about $5 million more than they think they can afford.”

Justice workers resume strike action

“It appears that thanks to the incompetent financial management of Justice Ministry staff who’ve received bonus payments the rest of the staff at the front line are expected to soldier on despite being significantly underpaid,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“It’s disappointing the Ministry says it can’t afford around $10 million to begin addressing long standing under payment of its staff when its latest annual report shows it had $494 million of operating revenue at the end of June.”

“Our offer included staff and the PSA working with the Ministry to reduce their costs by finding ways of working more efficiently, identifying and eliminating wasteful spending and improving productivity.”

“This would help offset the cost of meeting our offer that would have enabled the Ministry to begin addressing the underpayment of its staff.”

“Our offer is imminently affordable and we are deeply disappointed it’s been rejected by the Ministry.”

“That leaves our members at Justice no choice but to resume their industrial action with a two-hour nationwide strike this morning.”

“Our members will also resume their ban on overtime and will again be taking their work breaks at the same time rather than staggering them as they normally do to keep services running.”

“We hope the resumption of our industrial action will lead the Ministry to re-consider the affordable offer we have put on the table,” says Richard Wagstaff.

*Underpayment of Ministry of Justice staff

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