4000 public servants at IR and MBIE poised for industrial action

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More than 4000 public service workers are poised to take industrial action, with two stoppages at MBIE and Inland Revenue planned for next month.

PSA members at the two agencies will be balloted on Monday 18 June for their support for two 2-hour stoppages on 9 July and 23 July.

This is the first co-ordinated strike action in the public service for many years, and PSA National Secretaries Erin Polaczuk and Glenn Barclay say it’s an indication of how frustrated these workers have become.

"Our members at Inland Revenue and MBIE are very reluctant to take this action, but they feel their employers have left them with no choice," Mr Barclay and Ms Polaczuk say.

"The new Government has made it very clear it wants the public service to take a new approach to industrial relations, with a focus on collective bargaining.

"Yet these two agencies don’t appear to believe the new rules should apply to them.

"Both groups of members have been through months of attempts to find a solution, but their employers are stuck in the past."

MBIE and IR are both reluctant to properly engage on new pay systems, which would deliver fairer results for workers.

At both organisations, staff are paid below the market rate when they start, on the expectation they’ll move up quickly - but that doesn’t happen.

"MBIE is insistent on a performance-based system, which we know doesn’t work and actually increases pay inequities," Mr Barclay says.

"Progression is slow and often unfair - and PSA members are saying ‘no more’."

Meanwhile, IR is refusing to make a pay offer to recognise increasing costs of living.

"The latest changes to IR’s computer system has meant calls are being capped, 90-minute delays for customers and 4 hour waits for tax agents.

"We hear that IR is forcing untrained staff to answer phones to make up the backlog," Ms Polaczuk says.

"Our members are trained professionals and take their jobs seriously, so they’re deeply concerned about the impact for their clients."

The PSA says both MBIE and IR are central to the public service and the business community, and members are truly sorry for any inconvenience caused by the stoppages.

"These are two agencies that New Zealanders look to for fairness and proper engagement - with the public but also with their staff," Ms Polaczuk and Mr Barclay say.

"It’s time for employers to practice what they preach, and come back to the negotiating table ready to listen to their employees."