IR, MBIE strike will go ahead after employers’ stonewalling ends talks

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The PSA’s attempts to broker a solution to next month’s public service industrial dispute have failed, and more than 4000 members will walk off the job next month.

PSA advocates attended eleventh-hour meetings at Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and were surprised at the employers’ inflexibility.

"Our bargaining teams went to today’s meetings prepared to talk - and to find common ground which might avert this potentially disruptive action," PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says.

"They were shocked and deeply disappointed at the employers’ defiant take-it-or-leave-it attitude.

"In the case of IR, this was the PSA’s third proposal - and third flat rejection.

"This is despite a $29 million operational underspend which the Commissioner Naomi Ferguson says will be returned to the government.

"Knowing the money is there, but IR simply doesn’t want to give staff a modest cost-of-living increase is insulting, particularly in the middle of the chaotic breakdown of IR’s systems."

At the MBIE meeting, the employer proposed PSA members should work a longer week for the same salary, in an attempt to resolve its much-publicised problems with pay and holiday pay.

The PSA’s bargaining team at MBIE also asked for a cost of living pay increase, and changes to address slow progression - but Ms Polaczuk says MBIE’s offer falls far short of this.

"MBIE is the agency that employers go to when they need advice on industrial relations, and we expected a lot better of them," Ms Polaczuk says.

"It’s bizarre for employers to come to the table with strike action looming, and actually bring an offer that is worse for their staff.

"Our members at MBIE and IR are not highly-paid fatcats - at IR, a quarter are paid less than $48,000 a year.

"It’s 22 years since members at IR last took strike action, because like all public servants they’re reluctant to inconvenience the public.

"For our members at IR and MBIE, this is a last resort - they do not want to pass on the inevitable disruption to the customers and stakeholders who rely on their agencies every day.

"We share their frustrations.

"Both these disputes can be resolved if employers will come back to the table ready to seriously consider our offers."