December News in Brief


December's Working Life journal news in brief.

 NIWA INDUSTRIAL ACTION 

Hundreds of NIWA members walked off the job on November 21, and refused to submit timesheets for two weeks.

During the two-hour strike the workers were out cleaning up beaches, parks and rivers.

PSA members had agreed to a 2% pay increase, but the PSA believes NIWA’s refusal to settle after 16 months is part of a wider approach to undermine union membership.

It was the first industrial action taken by workers at a Crown Research Institute since they were created in 1992.

NIWA PNG


 NEW ERA FOR PUBLIC SERVICE 

The PSA supports a bill to reform the public service which was introduced into Parliament in November.

We welcome the clarification the bill provides about the role of the public service in relation to the Treaty of Waitangi.

We endorse its affirmation that public servants have the same rights as other citizens.

We are also keen the new legislation includes a commitment to meeting the Gender Pay Principles, which provide a framework for eliminating gender pay gaps and other gender-based inequalities.

We encourage members to make submissions on the bill or contribute to the submissions of the PSA and Te Rūnanga o Ngā Toa Āwhina.

 ELECTION 2020: WHAT MATTERS TO YOU 

A lack of affordable housing, healthcare, pay, work and the cost of living, and climate change are concerns likely to be on your minds in election year.

They were the common themes to emerge from a survey of PSA members in October.

We asked you what you were most concerned about for your families, workplaces, communities and for New Zealand.

Your responses to our survey will contribute to our campaign planning for Election 2020. We’ll update members in the New Year on how you can be involved.

 TAURANGA CITY COUNCIL STRIKE 

Strike action at Tauranga City Council in October may have helped bring resolution closer in a dispute over the council’s salary system.

PSA members at the council went on strike for two hours on October 24 in frustration over a system that leaves some languishing on pay up to 10 percent less than the median rate for years.

As Working Life went to print members were considering an improved offer from their employer.

Delegate Peter Mora says so far there has been a “positive response” from members overall to the offer which came after mediation with MBIE.

But he says they still need to work through the implications for all 120 members.

“It was after the industrial action that the employer realised how serious we were about getting it sorted,” he says.

Tauranga CC PNG


 MORNING TEA TO TAUTOKO LIVING WAGE 

PSA Department of Internal Affairs members at the National Library and Ngā Taonga in Wellington held a morning tea during Living Wage Week in November to show their solidarity for the cleaners and security guards there who are E tū members.

PSA National Library delegate Chantalle Smith said the security staff and cleaners are their whānau.

“They work hard and do long hours, and yet they still struggle. We will support these workers until they are paid fairly.”

DIA has now approved the Living Wage for its workers. It’s hoped this could assist the campaign for the Living Wage for the security staff and cleaners.

Living Wage Aotearoa is also celebrating its success in getting many local government election candidates to commit to extending the Living Wage.

 HOLIDAYS ACT UNDERPAYMENTS 

The PSA and other unions have agreed a memorandum of understanding with DHBs and the Labour Inspectorate on a national process to identify and rectify non-compliance with the Holidays Act.

In October the Health Minister David Clark said sampling of payroll records found $550-650 million is owed to DHB staff due to non-compliance.

He estimates it will take two years for DHBs to review and rectify the historic issue.

In the public service, the PSA is working with a number of employers to resolve Holidays Act compliance problems that have left thousands of workers short-changed. The PSA acknowledges that some agencies have already rectified the issues, while others are in the process of doing so.

Contact your PSA delegate if you have questions regarding possible underpayment of your holiday pay.


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