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Christchurch Council says union team needs to change approach

16 November 2004

The Christchurch City Council management remains keen to negotiate with its main staff union, but says the union team must be prepared to change the way it works and start discussing how the issues might be resolved.

Council human resources manager Philippa Jones says negotiators from the Southern Local Government Officers Union continue to ask for specific proposals they can put to members for acceptance or rejection.

Management, however, wants to change to a collaborative problem-solving process.  “It’s not unusual. It’s about getting a win-win solution and we’ve used it successfully in negotiations with other unions this year,” Ms Jones says.

“With the SLGOU, it’s not about how much time’s been spent on this so far or how many meetings are scheduled in the future; it’s about their approach. They’re assuming we have a position and want to hear what it is, but that’s not how we want to work and we aren’t going to be presenting specific proposals.

“We want to talk over the issues and work with the union on solutions. If they want to resolve this they need to engage with us.”
Council chief executive Lesley McTurk, in a message to SLGOU members on Monday (15 November), said the Council wished to reach a successful settlement, just as it has with five other unions since June this year.

“The SLGOU has made it clear that they wish to retain the current collective agreement with an across-the-board 4.5% wage increase,” Dr McTurk said. “In the Council’s view, this would simply reinforce the current inequities that exist in terms of pay and conditions of employment for staff covered by this agreement.

“The issues for negotiation raised by the Council in June remain unresolved. It’s our aim to ensure that any collective agreement reflects the vision and objectives of the Council for the future. These same issues have been the focus of negotiations with other unions and have been satisfactorily addressed in other collective agreements.”

Dr McTurk said industrial action by SLGOU members would be disappointing, but the changes being sought by the Council are a fundamental part of the transformation under way in the organisation and would not change the Council’s determination to also improve the way it works with unions.

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