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Christchurch City Council adjourns union negotiation

14 April 2005

Christchurch City Council has adjourned negotiations with the Southern Local Government Officers Union while it considers taking the Union to the Employment Court for breaches in good faith bargaining.

In an update memo to members this week the Union claimed the difference between the Council’s offer and the Union’s proposal on remuneration was $358,783. This was based on outdated and incorrect information. In fact, the difference is closer to $900,000 (which represents a 0.56% rate increase).

A correction sent out later failed to clarify the situation and compounded confusion among members about the council’s offer. As a result of the Council raising its objection, the Union has today acknowledged in a memo to members that its negotiating team must meet the Council and consider all its proposals.
Council Chief Executive Lesley McTurk says, “I am deeply concerned at the union’s conduct that, by giving members inaccurate information about the Council offer prior to a membership meeting, staff could not make a fully informed decision. As a result, we understand that union members voted at the meeting to take 24-hour strike action, should planned union negotiations break down tomorrow (Friday, 15 April).”

“When we have confidence that the Union will accurately represent our position to our staff, negotiations can progress. The Council cannot continue to negotiate under these conditions where it is not confident that the Union is acting in good faith, and where outcomes appear to be predetermined” Dr McTurk says.

“We have voiced concerns to the SLGOU about its continued failure to accurately relay the Council’s offers for settlement, and asked for joint meetings where both the union and Council could present their views in an open forum. This offer, which was not accurately put to members, has been declined.”

Philippa Jones, the Council manager for Human Resources, says the Council is considering taking the union to the Employment Court on the grounds that:
● It has breached good faith bargaining requirements by giving members deceptive and misleading information about the Council’s offer,
● It sought a resolution to strike and reject the Council’s proposal based on such information while still in negotiation with the Council.

“Our principles behind the offer have not changed and the offer to the Union on 4 March remains on the table.  We are committed to fixing the pay distortions.  Before resuming negotiations the council will require assurances from the Union about their future conduct during bargaining.”

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