4000 MBIE and IRD servants to strike

By Jessica Tyson

More than 4000 Public Service Association members will take industrial action next month, after an overwhelming vote to strike.

Members at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Inland Revenue will take part in two two-hour stoppages on July 9 and 23. 

MBIE is the agency which advises New Zealand businesses on how to conduct their industrial relations.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says “we expect better of them.”

He says MBIE is spending millions on contractors while denying a cost of living pay increase for PSA members, ”and it’s not in the spirit of the new Government’s expectations for the public sector.”

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says members are at the end of their tether.

"Our members take their jobs very seriously and they’re trying desperately to keep the system on track while Inland Revenue presses ahead with its Business Transformation project which will see one in three staff let go by 2021,” says Polaczuk.

"To give just one example - IR’s system is unable to process the Best Start tax credit, which should give lower-income families an extra $60 a week for each child.

It starts on July 1 and members are told they will have to process this manually, increasing their workload.

"To have all this happening while the employer refuses to consider a modest across-the-board pay increase is deeply upsetting to our members."

Strike notices are being issued to both employers.

Response from Inland Revenue

However, IR media spokesperson Pete Van Schaardenburg told Rereātea he hasn't received notice from PSA that its members at IR will be taking strike action.

"We are continuing to work constructively with the PSA to get an outcome that’s acceptable to both parties, and have scheduled two further bargaining discussions this week," he says.

He says IR has chosen to manually process Best Start applications for the first few weeks of July but automated processing will commence shortly after July 7.

"This is to enable us to focus on processing annual July 7 income tax returns and ensuring customers receive their tax refunds as soon as possible. This will not have any impact on the small number of customers receiving their Best Start entitlements from July 1."

PSA members at Inland Revenue have not taken industrial action in 22 years.