Red faces as Stats staff welcome new minister with red letter

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Staff at Statistics New Zealand will welcome their new minister Craig Foss today but instead of smiles and handshakes they’ll be handing over a letter detailing the breakdown of pay talks and the industrial action that has been in place since September.

The Public Service Association (PSA) represents more than 400 workers who are taking industrial action after bargaining broke down because Statistics New Zealand refused an across-the-board pay increase, leaving staff further behind the cost of living.

“Our members are passionate about their work, but they are sick of Stats NZ not valuing the jobs that they do and it’s time the new minister heard about it,” says Basil Prestidge, PSA assistant secretary.

Despite meeting all performance expectations for the role, workers at Statistics New Zealand are often stuck below the midpoints of their pay bands.  The complex workings of the pay system means that staff are locked into training pay grades, unable to progress to a fair salary, while new staff come in at higher rates.

“The minister should be embarrassed to be in charge of workers who calculate CPI not being able to keep up with it.  Stats NZ needs to come back with some real pay movement and a commitment to a clear, fair and negotiated pay system," says Basil Prestidge.

PSA members at Statistics New Zealand are also concerned at the lengths the department is willing to go to counter their industrial action.  Last week Statistics New Zealand confirmed it will be redeploying office based staff to the field to collect data that is already being collected by PSA members.

“This double-handling is coming at an incredible cost to the tax payer and could have been avoided completely.  The PSA has offered various compromises, but Statistics New Zealand are refusing to budge from their original position,” says Basil Prestidge.

The minister arrives at Statistics New Zealand, Statistics House, The Boulevard, Harbour Quays, Wellington at 9.00am.  He will be greeted by Statistics staff and members of the PSA bargaining team who will hand over the letter.