ERA finds in favour of the PSA and orders NZDF to bargain pay with civilian staff

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has determined that the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) must bargain pay in good faith with the Public Service Association, which is a major win for the civilian staff at NZDF, says the PSA.

"The PSA has been in bargaining with NZDF since May 2016 and unfortunately faced a refusal by NZDF to bargain wages," says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary.

"The PSA filed a case in the Employment Relations Authority seeking a determination that collective bargaining must include bargaining about wages, and the Authority agreed."

NZDF had invited the union to be ‘consulted’ about a pay system, on the proviso that this take place outside of bargaining and that all decisions would be controlled entirely by NZDF. This is not bargaining.

"This ERA determination supports the PSA’s view that union members are entitled to collective bargaining of their pay. It also sets an important precedent for other workplaces in local government and the state sector where some employers refuse to bargain pay," says Mr Barclay.

The determination states that the Authority "struggle to see how an agreement covering an employment relationship can ignore the essential element of [pay] from an employee’s perspective," and that "the Court would frown upon NZDF’s approach."

"In a layperson’s terms, this is about fairness and transparency for our members at NZDF - they wanted pay negotiated and included in their Collective Agreement so that they can have certainty of job progression and reasonable wage rises over time, and NZDF had refused to do so during bargaining," says Mr Barclay.

"The ERA has found that NZDF cannot refuse to bargain pay, and has ordered it to do so."

"Our members at NZDF are the nuts and the bolts that hold our Defence Force together - the security guards, cleaners, cooks and other civilian roles - and they are thrilled by the outcome after an uncertain and stressful period of negotiation."

"Many of them have not had a pay increase in many years, and they are looking forward to their union sitting down with NZDF in the near future and bargaining a collective agreement that includes pay."