The Ministry of Justice has filed an urgent application in the Employment Court for an interim injunction to restrain ‘lighting strike’ action by Public Service Association (PSA) members at the Ministry.
The PSA and Ministry of Justice have been in prolonged industrial bargaining negotiations set to go to mediation next week.
“The union is prepared to defend the lawfulness of our actions,” says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary.
“Just yesterday (Wednesday) members voted to re-commence a set of work to rule actions that will continue until Friday 9 November.
“In the interim we are reserving the right of workers to undertake lawful strike action if backed by our members and in the context of unsatisfactory bargaining”.
The vote for further industrial action means a continuation of work to rule that happened between 19 September and 19 October. Mr Barclay says the timeframe for these actions - consisting of bans on working outside normal hours of work and taking common daily breaks of 1 hour 35 minutes each day - will run through to 9 November.
No other choice says Bridgman
The Ministry of Justice has filed an application in the Employment Court for an injunction against the PSA’s lightning strikes," says Andrew Bridgman, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Justice.
"As bargaining discussions with the PSA have not been successful and they have recommenced lightning strikes, we have taken this action as we feel we have been left with no other choice to ensure the safety of our staff, the public and the judiciary.
"The health and safety of everyone who works in or visits New Zealand’s courthouses is our highest priority. We consider the PSA’s decision to strike with only 30 minutes notice at crowded and busy courts to be unlawful, unsafe and irresponsible. We will do everything we can to protect everyone working in or visiting our courthouses.
"The Ministry remains open and committed to reaching a negotiated settlement and we have asked the PSA to attend mediation which is scheduled for next week," he says.
Meanwhile, up to 80 court reporters around the country were due to walk off the job for two hours this afternoon (Thursday).
"One of the significant sticking points in industrial bargaining negotiations has been a repeated call from the PSA's bargaining team for the Ministry of Justice to offer stronger movement on reducing the gender pay gap. The majority of court reporters are women," says the PSA
"Being a court reporter is a highly skilled job. An accurate record is often at the heart of the justice system, and transcription is an essential part of that."