Workers strike after salary talks fail

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 13:07 13/06/2014
MBIE staff in Chch protest
Joseph Johnson/Fairfax NZ

FIGHTING FOR FAIR PAY: Liz Allan, holding a sign and Colette Cargill participate in the protest against the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment outside the Christchurch offices.

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Workers for the ministry that oversees employment disputes are striking in Christchurch today after salary negotiations failed.

Forty workers in Christchurch and more than 1000 across the country were on strike seeking a 2 per cent pay rise from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Public Service Association (PSA) union national secretary Richard Wagstaff said MBIE staff had spent over a year "trying to get a fair deal'', and had become ''increasingly frustrated with their employer's refusal to offer decent wage movement''.

''After a year, the best pay offer is nothing for those who are entitled to progression through their salary scale and 1 per cent for everyone else,'' he said.

Christchurch workers were picketing outside the Wrights Rd, Addington, office this morning. 

They were also on ''work to rule'' - refusing to do any unpaid overtime, and taking all scheduled breaks.

Wagstaff said MBIE workers were ''key to the Government's plans for New Zealanders' wages to rise, but they find themselves stuck in the mud".

''MBIE staff protect our borders, promote innovation and help to grow the New Zealand economy - they deserve their fair share.''

PSA said industrial action would continue next week if a better offer was not tabled by the ministry. 

Ministry corporate services deputy chief executive Peter Thomas said the industrial action was disappointing. 

The ministry had offered a "fair, affordable and sustainable" package that would result in an average 2.1 per cent increase for association members.

Services to the public would be maintained during the action, and the ministry would be happy to return to the bargaining table when it was over, he said.

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