Industrial action looks set to continue after 10 Tauranga court staff walked off the job yesterday protesting for better pay and workplace conditions.
The striking Public Service Association union members formed a picket line waving placards on the corner of Cameron Rd and McLean Street after midday yesterday - closing the court for hours.
Strikers included court security officers, registrars, court reporters from the National Transcription Service and a Family Court co-ordinator.
Most courts around the country were closed from 12.30pm to 5pm because of the strike, which took place after the Employment Court on Monday dismissed an injunction application from the ministry to stop PSA members striking.
Tauranga court staff have been undertaking "work to rule" action after their first strike seven weeks ago, including an overtime ban and taking common breaks, and this will continue until further notice.
The union initially presented a total pay claim which would have added up to more than 13 per cent during this bargaining period but subsequently reduced its claim to 11 per cent.
The Justice Ministry has a budget of three per cent of its annual salary bill for pay increases this year and three per cent for next year, with chief operating officer Carl Crafar saying this was consistent with other public service agencies.
Striking staff yesterday said they were buoyed by the number of toots of support they got from passing motorists and members of the public.
Tauranga High Court deputy registrar and PSA site delegate Leah Wills, holding a "Where's the Justice" sign, said she and other staff had reluctantly chosen to strike.
"We have been trying to negotiate a fairer pay system with the ministry for several months without success.
"All we want is a fairer pay offer and fairer transition to the new pay scales, as well as a modest cost of living pay increase," she said.
Wills said the bargaining team was open to further discussions with the ministry to resolve the impasse.
Union assistant secretary Basil Prestidge said the length of the dispute sent "a disappointing signal" that the importance of staff to the future of the justice system was not valued.
But Crafar said the ministry had tried to work with the union as to how best to use its salary budget to maximise pay increases for its people.
The ministry had also offered an additional $750 one-off payment to PSA members for 2018, he said.
Crafar said the ministry valued all its staff.
"The situation remains fluid and we are doing our best to manage the impact on our customers and our people.
"The Ministry remains open and committed to reaching a negotiated settlement and we're ready to meet with the PSA at any time."
Why Ministry of Justice court staff are taking industrial action:
- Industrial action started seven weeks ago for better pay deal and working conditions
- Bargaining negotiations between the PSA and the Ministry have stalled
- Members want to be "fairly valued" for the work they do and have safe workloads
- They are also calling on the Ministry to end the "gender-pay" gap