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Christchurch City Council disappointed at strike vote

1 December 2006

The Christchurch City Council will try to minimise the disruption to residents of two strikes before Christmas by members of the Southern Local Government Officers Union.

Council General Manager Human Resources Philippa Jones says the strike action is extremely disappointing, particularly as the Council tries to make positive changes to its remuneration structure to help achieve the goal of Christchurch becoming a world-class city.

“We have some real anomalies in the way some of our people are paid. This creates a big challenge in retaining and recruiting talent at some levels and, ultimately, in providing the quality services our residents expect.”

Ms Jones said a proposal to the union addressing this had been rejected. The Council yesterday received formal notice of a second strike for 24 hours from 11am, Thursday, December 14 to 11am, Friday, December 15.

The union had already given notice of a three-hour strike next Friday, December 8, from 11am to 2pm.

“While there will be some disruption, including libraries and service centres, no essential services such as water supply, sewerage treatment or rubbish collection, will be affected by either strike,” Ms Jones says.

Council will ensure that the public is fully advised of the impact of the industrial action, particularly given that the mid-December strike coincides with the pre-Christmas rush for services such as libraries and final day for rates payments.

Ms Jones says the Council made a $7.5 million offer to union members over three years which included salary increases ranging from 6% to 21%, depending on an employee’s grade, and backdated to 1 July 2006.

“Currently, some staff on the lower grades are paid 12% more than the market rate while those on the higher grades whose skills are in demand, are paid 20% below the local government market rate.

 “Under the Council’s proposal, all current employees would receive a percentage increase in salary. New staff would be hired at market rates,” Ms Jones says.

The Council’s offer is within the Council approved budget and will have no impact on the rates paid by residents.

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