Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

'Super ministry' workers picket over pay

The picket outside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment this morning. Photo / NZ Herald
The picket outside the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment this morning. Photo / NZ Herald

About 100 staff and supporters picketed "super ministry" the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (Mbie) this morning in a noisy protest over stalled pay talks.

Senior officials including Treasury chief economist Girol Karacoaglu were forced to run the gauntlet the group through the group gathered at the entrance of the so called "super ministry's" Wellington headquarters a stone's throw from the Beehive.

Public Service Association (PSA) National Secretary Richard Wagstaff who was at the protest told the Herald the union's members who worked at Mbie were taking part in a national protest in support of their negotiating team at the bargaining table.

"They're doing it because after a year of negotiations the employer has failed to come up with anything like a reasonable offer to settle the agreement."

Mr Wagstaff said staff were being offered a 1 per cent pay increase, "provided they can take back other conditions within the agreement which for us makes it next to nothing.

Many people haven't had a pay rise for a couple of years. So it simply falls well short."

Mbie staff heard the Government "talk about how times are getting better, how workers can expect the economy to flow through to their hands then they're telling their staff, you guys aren't worth it and that really grates."

Mbie's deputy chief executive of corporate services Peter Thomas said the ministry had been through 12 rounds of collective bargaining with the PSA "during which significant progress has been made".

The Ministry would be happy to return to the bargaining table but not while industrial action was underway.

"We have been working hard to achieve one collective agreement, bringing together agreements from the four former agencies that make up MBIE.

"We remain committed to a good faith negotiation process and to achieving a good outcome for both parties."

"Mbie is currently offering a package which would result in an average increase of 2.1 per cent for PSA members. We believe this offer is fair, affordable and sustainable."

Labour's Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson who was also at the protest said there was "a supreme irony" that Mbie staff provided Finance Minister Bill English and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce with wage data which the Government had been "crowing" showed a 3.2 per cent rise in across the board wages over the last year, "yet Mbie workers have only been offered 1 per cent with a claw back provision".

"I think it's pitiful."

- NZ Herald

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