Industrial Update - from the Courthouse

Anaesthetic technicians on call

In October the Employment Court said that our Timaru anaesthetic technicians should be paid at least the minimum wage for their on-call duties.

Being on call for these workers meant they had to be ready to report for duty in just ten minutes – often for life saving surgery. They had to stay away from their families in shared hospital accommodation, which meant their time was not their own.

The DHB has applied for leave to appeal this decision. The PSA opposes their appeal.

Waikato DHB v Archibald

PSA member Kathleen Archibald has won her case of unjustified dismissal against her employer, Waikato DHB. Mrs Archibald’s role was significantly changed following a restructure, adding almost three hours of regular travel to her day.

Mrs Archibald was 67 and needed to take care of her health. In a meeting she told the DHB that the extent of the travel involved in the new position filled her “with dread”.

Rather than take steps to inquire into her concerns, the DHB terminated her employment, and refused to pay her severance. The PSA filed a case of unjustified dismissal. The Court agreed, and Mrs Archibald won her case.
Judge Christina Inglis said Mrs Archibald experienced "a deep sense of hurt that she had not been listened to" and had her concerns "unceremoniously brushed to one side".

The Judge awarded severance pay and also doubled the compensation awarded in the Authority, sending an important message about levels of compensation awards for the future.

Other Unions

RMTU shows what collective action can achieve

Industrial RMTU

Wellington railway workers represented by the Railway and Maritime Transport Union went on Strike for 24 hours on Thursday, 16 November to protest clawbacks that French multinational Transdev and Hyundai Rotem were pushing onto them.

Negotiations had been going on for more than seven months by the time the workers voted to take industrial action.

Many railway workers are on minimal wages, but currently get extra pay when working extended hours. Changes to this will impact a lot on their ability to make ends meet.

“Just because a French multinational wants to make more profit, we have to take money out of our pocket and give it to a bank account in Paris,” Howard Phillips of RMTU told ONE News.

This is the first industrial action since 1994 to affect the Wellington rail system for more than two hours.

The RMTU planned a second strike for 1 December, but cancelled it after reaching a settlement with the employers in mediation on November 30. The settlement details are not known at the time of writing.

The strength of collective action has an impact, even against big multinational corporations.