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Pay increases of 3 to 15% rejected by Council SLGOU members

3 May 2005

Christchurch City Council staff have gone against the advice of their own union, the Southern Local Government Officers’ Union, opting to take strike action and rejecting a recommended settlement agreed between the parties, which would have given pay increases of between 3%  to 15%, effective from April 1 this year.

Union members decided at a stop-work meeting today to continue with their planned strike action - rejecting the package - if the Council did not agree to backdate the offer. This follows 11 months of negotiations and 30 hours mediation over the weekend with mediator Walter Grills.
Council Chief Executive Lesley McTurk says the Council had increased the package from 4.5% to 5.1% to achieve a settlement which the union agreed to recommend to members. Despite this, not only had union members rejected it but they decided to proceed with strike action on 10 May.

The total remuneration package of 5.1% would have given staff pay increases of 3% for grades 6-14; 3.5% for grades 15 and 16, 5% for grade 17; 8% for grades 18 and 19; 12% for grades 20 and 21, and 15% for grades 22 and 23. This offer would be cost-neutral to ratepayers, given planned savings in the staff salaries budget.

Only 74 staff would receive no base rate increase, receiving a lump-sum payment of $1200 instead.

General Manager of Human Resources Philippa Jones says: “Backdating is not an option because there’s no money left to stretch any further. Backdating would mean people in the lower grades would receive lesser increases, which would be unacceptable to members.”

She says SLGOU members’ expectations were unrealistic – given that Council had already stretched its budget to meet their demands without affecting services to the community. Ms Jones says she believes the SLGOU had set high expectations for a backdated package among members from the outset, which they are now unable to manage.
The fact that an agreement was reached in mediation had proven that mediation was the best vehicle for negotiation and, while the Council was open to continue talks with the SLGOU, it would not do so under threat of strike action, Ms Jones says.

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