MBIE & IRD staff to strike next month, with nurses also striking and primary teachers mulling possible industrial action in August

MBIE & IRD staff to strike next month, with nurses also striking and primary teachers mulling possible industrial action in August

More than 4000 public servants have overwhelmingly voted to strike, with frustrations being levelled against the new Government, the Public Services Association (PSA) says.

PSA members at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will take part in two two-hour stoppages on July 9 and 23.

National Leader Simon Bridges says Monday's announcement is worrying and will slow the economy and make it harder to do business. 

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says members were “very reluctant” to take this step, but felt they had no other choice.

This is the first time PSA members at IRD have taken industrial action in 22 years.

“Spending millions on contractors while denying our members a cost of living pay increase is poor practice, and it’s not in the spirit of the new Government’s expectations for the public sector,” Barclay says.

He says MBIE is the agency which advises New Zealand businesses on how to conduct their industrial relations – “we expect better of them.”

The reason for the strike appears to stem from frustrations around the IRD’s Business Transformation Project, which Barclay says will see one in three staff let go by 2021.

“To give just one example – IRD’s system is unable to process the Best Start tax credit, which should give lower-income families an extra $60 a week for each child.

“It starts on 1 July, and members are told they will have to process this manually, drastically increasing their workload,” Barclay says.

He adds that it is “deeply upsetting” to PSA members to have this happening, while employers refuse to consider a “modest across-the-board pay increase.”

The notice of industrial action comes with nurses preparing to go on strike next month. Unions representing primary school teachers are also in the process of deciding whether to take industrial action in August.

Strike notices are being issued to both IRD and MBIE.

More strikes a concern, National says 

Bridges says the worrying increase in strike action under this "union-friendly Government" will slow the economy, make it harder to do business and affect the access of New Zealanders to public services.

“After less than nine months of this Government, 32,000 workers have been involved in industrial action or signalled their intention to be – compared to just over 27,000 that undertook strike action in the entire nine years of the previous Government," he says.

He adds that the situation will only get worse when Labour’s proposed employment law reforms are implemented, which are specifically targeted at strengthening unions and weakening the ability of New Zealanders to run their businesses.

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36 Comments

Questioned directly by moderator Mike Hosking (who was exacting on both, in his rat-a-tat, pop-economist kind-of way) whether New Zealand could be in for national strikes, Ardern had her most emphatic moment: "No. We. Will. Not."
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/96388899/jacinda-arder...

Jacinda on lying in politics: https://youtu.be/pPJ1MO-kT0g?t=17

Are we are going backwards to the 1970's ? ...... God Help Us

....the injustice being the perpetrator of the mess has escaped into the knight...... along with this 30pcs of silver.

This just gets better by the day. At some stage COLONZ will be making a cash call salaried earners can't refuse. Sorry to say Captain Taxinda that I got off at the last port, Redundancy, so my contribution will be nil. Good luck convincing your waning supporters to front up with more cash. They voted for change, not to pay for it.

Of course we voted to pay for it. That was the choice in turning down National's bribe of tax cuts to ignore the failing society they were happy to live in. National did a good job of pretending to be centre left by not gutting working for families and providing free health care for kids while in power. However, ignoring the crumbling health, education and housing sectors while giving tax cuts that benefited the wealthiest the most was the final straw.

We know Labour doesn't have all the answers and some times they are just plain stupid (e.g. letting all the criminals out to save money) but their heart is in the right place so they deserve a crack. Your constant whining is another matter, you lost, move on.

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Why is MBIE striking? I reckon they should just shut that Ministry down, it's has proven time and time again to be a waste of money. Unbelievable they have the audacity to strike!

When it comes to processing a simple visitors visa for a well paid Melanesian who has visited NZ without incident several times the INZ are glacially slow. Sufficient to cause rumours of racism and to exceed their own highly conservative deadline of 25 days in over 20% of applications. Quite seriously a strike will be undetectable by their clients.

I agree. Probably a good reason for the government to review and cutback on staffing and outsourcing expenses.
From my personal experience, a lot of government department and ministry work gets outsourced to consultants despite there being enough internal staff to perform those jobs.
My bosses insisted we use meaty jargons to describe the simple tasks in our contract so as to justify charging high fees, while ministry staff would be out spending their time and the taxpayers' money on trainings, conferences and meetings.

https://www.randstad.co.nz/employers/employer-brand-research/sign-up/

Doesn't the research above just confirm that MBIE ranks the 3rd place of the country's most attractive employers?

No. Read it. Employer Brand Research, key word brand. It has nothing to do with how good the employer is and everything to do with that people recognise them as an employer with a brand. You could include NZ prisons in that research but they have a rather understandable poor brand performance. Even the research shies away from any employer attractiveness features, i.e. comparative remuneration, workplace environment measures, bonus measures, staff engagement, staff training and career growth etc. Pretty much just the brand which is useless bit of research for many public services that are a monopoly in their own private corner of the world, (where real competition is a foreign concept to them). The reality is MBIE is a bad employer, much like the IRD, DHBs, etc. Good employers are often companies that focus more on their staff than on the branding research to draw new staff (instead of say that used for marketing to draw new business for their staff to work on). High turnover is never a good sign.

Why'd you have to contradict his rant with the truth? This site ain't for you. Killjoy!

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That whirring sound you can hear if ya listens Closely, is pigeons coming home to roost. It's one thing to trumpet Equality, Mo' Moolah for the Woikers, Diversity! and related soundbites from the various bully pulpits available to a Gubmint.

It's quite another to find the aforesaid Moolah without running to the Debt Well, disappointing the TU's, reaching deeper into Taxpayers' Pockets, risking even bigger slides in BizConf, or resorting to the age-old trick of Gubmints - just Confiscate Valuable Stuff......

instead of getting pay rises by voting for a party why not vote with your feet or upskill yourself?

Many technically are upskilled. You cannot have everyone working as chiefs, there needs to be those actually doing the skilled work at the coalface.

Correct but then maybe look elswhere for what you percieve as your value rather than extort it through strikes. As someone posted above the public sector alrady pays more than the private sector - https://www.taxpayers.org.nz/wage_gap

Get rid off MBIE and give the money to the nurses.

This spate of strikes is just nonsense , its little wonder we have de-industrialized to the extent we have AND its making the Government look like fools .

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-The gap in weekly earnings between the public and private sectors has grown since 1990, from 18.9% of private sector earnings to 34.6% in 2017. The gap peaked in 2010 at 38.4%. The premium is even higher for hourly earnings (as public sector employees, on average, work fewer hours).
-If the Government had retained a public sector earnings premium of 20%, taxpayers would save $2.5 billion per year, or $1,445 per household in lower taxes or reduced Government debt.
-The public sector took an average of 8.6 and 8.4 days of sick leave in 2016 and 2017, compared to the private sector average of 4.7 days per year.
-If the public sector reduced its rates of sick leave to private sector levels, the taxpayers would save $173 million per year, or approximately $100 per household per year in lower taxes, or reduced Government debt.
https://www.taxpayers.org.nz/wage_gap?utm_campaign=180625_tu_nwsltr&utm_...

Don’t suppose it is worth adding anything about over staffed, unnecessarily staffed, over slow staff, overdone staffing allowances, to which all our fine public servants would no doubt say in unison, get staffed!

Interesting data. May explain why NZ has unusually low productivity growth and flat GPD per capita. On the other hand maybe the public service is using more private contractors for low wage tasks such as cleaning, rubbish collection, etc.

There we have it. All the money that ideally should be spent on nation building activities such as building infrastructure, maintaining national assets, research and innovation, health, education, environment etc. is actually going to a bunch of overpaid public sector employees to push paper around and conduct "meetings" all day.

@Advisor. Nobody in their right mind could ever disagree with those sentiments. Except to say these are not public sectors but are “corporates” don’t you know & instead of clerks and chief clerks we have chief executives with a whole begging retinue of empire builders. Our city councils are just the damn same. The majority of them it seems, work in rooms without windows where they can dream up implausible and spendthrift schemes to justify their position and enhance their revenue. These schemes are invariably designed to frustrate, impede and burden costs onto tax payers and rate payers alike. And when they really get the go ahead they can be really destructive which must be quite satisfying to the egos. For instance how MBIE set up thousand of Canterbury EQ claimants to have their homes unlawfully trashed by EQC.

Well clearly I'm out of my mind because I massively disagree with those idiotic, two-bit sentiments. The old mantra - blame the public servant for the ills of life.

In your words - who in fact does the "building infrastructure, maintaining national assets, research and innovation, health, education, environment..."? PUBLIC SERVANTS.

The same public servants that keep the water running, police your streets, put out the fires, teach your kids, do the leg work in hospitals, pay your grand entitlement of national superannuation, manage roading projects, and make sure the planes don't fall out of the sky.

The real rort is the blood-sucking group of consultants that follow around after every public sector restructure - charging $400 an hour and quoting the latest grand theory from McKinsey.

Yet another partisan old fella. Clearly the skin you have in the game made you overreact when my post touched a nerve and completely miss the point.
My point is not about private vs public sector employees - the sheer wage disparity between private and public sector employees is unacceptable. The work can be done as well for proportionately lower salaries.

The $2.5 billion a year we could save by just bringing the premium down to a whopping 20% on private sector wages is more than 15 times the estimated revenue from the fuel tax in Auckland and 41 times the annual revenue from the proposed tourist tax. Get it?!

Not that old but yes a raw nerve because professional people get pilloried here for no good reason.

Good point. Live long & prosper.

MBIE - 'Make Business Increasingly Extinct' decide to go on strike, will anyone notice?

Not a good sign ... Unions are just taking advantage of " the spirit of the new Government’s expectations for the public sector " ... This is a CoLing noobs .... even failing to control and manage their core principles and expectations.

IRD employees just woke up after 22 years to ask for a pay rise ?? - are we for real ?? ... or is it the PST stirring the trough and don't want to be left behind as booty and spoils are for grabs ... the PST guy is worried about extra workload for processing whatever manually ...lol , DO they need to be paid extra to do that to compensate for the stress !! - talk about spoiling and pampering !! ..

As I said, it's open CoLs season, shoot at will ... and join your mates or miss out on the gravy train.

My God, UNIONS and PRODUCTIVITY do not fit in one sentence .. huh?

Wasn't the Tax cut planned by National a better solution to everyone? ... maybe it wasn't enough for some sectors , but it certainly would have prevented opening the Pandora's Box !!

Hmmm clever - reduce taxes so these folks can get paid even less.

Many people I know (and myself) have been on the same salary since 2011/12. To me its grossly unfair that the current government is expected to make up for the shortfalls, ignorance & fake surpluses of the previous bunch of country accountants and money-pushers.

But then again - the current government is trying to make up for shortfalls in housing, water quality, biosecurity, infrastructure and productivity, so why should this be a surprise?

"UNIONS and PRODUCTIVITY do not fit in one sentence .. huh?" - Except in Germany, but don't let that ruin your catchy one liners.

We are not Germany, Larry .. not even close ... we are behind them by at least 40 years ..so please !!

We can see why you haven't had a pay rise for 6 years, because you interpretation of what is happening around you is limited
"reduce taxes so these folks can get paid even less" ...
" fake surpluses of the previous bunch of country accountants and money-pushers." ....really!

.if you want highly competant, capable and experianced staff to take on the corporate tax accountants and lawyers, you need to attract and retain such staff. Instead of bagging these servants, just remember they could do much much better financially in the corpoarte trough. We need them tackle the very issues grizzled about daily on this site.

To re-can a Can of Worms, ya needs a Bigger Can....

At some point reality bites right? In all fairness, the new govt has the best of intentions, but people's irrational expectations are clearly out of whack - evidently more within the public sectors than without. Surely people must realize, no matter how much you may want to, you can't fix 10 years of neglect/avoidance in a single year.

What we're seeing with this spike in strikes is an attempt by each group to 'get in and get theirs' before the pot runs dry. Well, newsflash, there ain't no pot left folks - the govt already budgeted their money - you missed out - figure out where you went wrong and negotiate better next time.

You want a pay rise? Collectively throwing your toys out of your pram and striking en-masse is likely going to have quite a different effect than you think.

Who was responsible for the current situation? National.

Whats going to happen at the next election when the public are sick enough of this strike BS? National will be voted in again. Perhaps there'll be some new anti-union party that gets enough support, or perhaps NZ First or the Greens will be so over the striking that they'll switch teams.

I'd suggest the unions support and work cooperatively with 'their team' - publicly biting the hand that feeds like this in so many areas at the same time is guaranteed to see another long time between drinks...

It seems those voters in the public service who swallowed Labour's election bribes are now really annoyed that they are not going to receive all manner of largesse as promised

What is really irksome is the sheer number of IRD employees who earn six figure salaries , are they going on strike too ?

Maybe they were brainwashed by the Stuff article about how people on 6 figure incomes are below the poverty line.

If they cave at this early stage it's going to be a long term in office. My advice would be to hold steady.