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Christchurch City Council disappointed at union decision

25 May 2005

Christchurch City Council is concerned that today’s rejection of its contract offer to the Southern Local Government Officers Union does not reflect the views of the majority of union members.

Council Negotiation Team Leader and General Manager of Human Resources, Philippa Jones says less than a third of the union’s 1080 members voted to reject the offer at today’s stop-work meeting.  Only 80 votes separated the decision.

It is disappointing that more than 40 per cent of the union’s members did not vote, Ms Jones says. “The low turnout at the meeting is extremely disappointing given that the Council closed services to allow the maximum number of staff to attend. Managers also actively encouraged staff to go the meeting.”

One explanation for the low turnout at the meeting is that members were not aware that there would be a secret ballot as this decision was only made at the meeting.  Many union members believed that they would be able to vote on the offer by email ballot.

Ms Jones says many staff are obviously frustrated at the outcome and are approaching their managers requesting information about alternative options, such as individual employment agreements.

The Council is discussing the way forward with Mediator Walter Grills and will leave its offer on the table.

“The Council has exhausted all options. We’ve already spent six days in mediation and facilitation is adjourned,” Ms Jones says.

  • The council’s offer to the union at a total cost of $2.3 million or 5.1 per cent included: A range of lump sum payments equivalent to 2 per cent of employees’ contracted working hours, ranging from $650 to $1160, and
  • Various base rate increases over 15 months between 2.5 per cent and 15 per cent, depending on grade.

“The Council’s offer, which increased from 4.5 to 5.1 per cent, included a need to realise savings in excess of $250,000 from their salaries’ budget to fund the increased offer,” says Ms Jones.

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