More disruptions are expected in Northland courts as members of the Public Service Association up the ante in their demand for better pay and working conditions.
Apart from participating in work-to-rule since last month, about 77 PSA members adopted a new set of bans from this week at the Whangārei District and High Courts, Whangārei Maori Land Court, and Kaikohe and Kaitaia District Courts.
The work-to-rule means the public counters are closed in mornings from 10.15am to 10.25am, lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm and during afternoons for 10 minutes from 3pm. PSA members have stopped doing overtime as part of the industrial action.
From this week until December 7, they will stop work involving audio visual link (AVL) in courts (except for matters involving vulnerable witnesses); any event or hearing to do with sentencing; all collection tasks except receiving payments and answering queries, and work outside their offices.
That means security officers or court registrars who are members of PSA will not travel to the Dargaville District Court for court sitting as and when required. That court doesn't sit daily.
PSA is asking the Ministry of Justice for a pay rise of between 2 and 3 per cent and similar increases for what it calls a flawed performance pay system, and for workers transitioning across to a new pay scale.
PSA national secretary Glenn Barcley said the current stalemate was because the ministry took no concrete steps to bring to the table an improved pay offer to enable bargaining to resume.
The ministry's chief operating officer, Carl Crafar, said the government department was doing its best to minimise the impact of the industrial action on its customers and its people.
"The industrial action is sporadic and different from court to court. Managing the impacts at each of our sites resulted in a range of approaches to the 4.5 hour strike, including some courts continuing to operate fully, some offering only counter service and a number closing for the period.
"The ministry sought an injunction in the Employment Court against short-notice strikes because it considered taking strike action with only 30 minutes notice at crowded and busy courts to be unsafe and irresponsible," he said.
Crafar said the ministry has made a revised offer to the PSA and that it has a budget of 3 per cent of its annual salary bill for pay increases this year and 3 per cent for next year, which was consistent with other public service agencies.
The ministry, he said, has also offered an additional $750 one-off payment to PSA members for 2018.
"The PSA initially presented a pay claim which added up to more than 13 per cent during this period, more than double the ministry's budget. They have subsequently reduced their claim to 11 per cent."