The unions representing workers at state broadcaster RNZ are threatening to strike because of a disagreement over pay rise rates.
Workers had asked for a 7 per cent increase, and RNZ management had offered 5.5 per cent, the Public Service Association (PSA) said.
A spokeswoman for RNZ told the Herald that RNZ “has played a constructive role in negotiations and remains committed to doing so”, and it had increased funding for pay along with other improvements to work conditions.
PSA national secretary Kerry Davies said: “Workers at RNZ are like so many around the country who are facing a big squeeze on their household budgets from rising supermarket bills and mortgage interest costs, so we believe 7 per cent is fair and reasonable.”
Meanwhile, E tū union organiser Dr Michael Gilchrist said union members felt betrayed and angered by the offer, noting the news outlet’s chief executive Paul Thompson was given a $65,000 bonus.
“That’s no less than a full year’s salary for many staff,” he said.
More than half of RNZ’s workforce stopped work and held a meeting to discuss their progress with bargaining for their collective agreement. Others continued to work in essential roles.
At the meeting, it was decided union members would back the claim for a 7 per cent raise.
Members also decided they would ask their unions to hold a vote on whether to strike later next week if RNZ didn’t make a “satisfactory offer” by next Wednesday.
The PSA noted RNZ recently got a $23 million funding boost. Management at the state broadcaster had earmarked that money for new technology and projects, the PSA said.
RNZ’s spokeswoman responded to this, saying: “Mr Thompson has always been on a performance contract. In 2022-2023 Mr Thompson was paid a bonus for the previous year’s work in 2021-2022 because he met the KPIs as set by the board.”
The PSA also made the point Thompson had told his staff earlier this the biggest driver of RNZ’s strategy was to retain, train, pay and support its workers.
Some three-quarters of RNZ’s staff are covered by the collective agreement and are members of either E tū or the PSA.
RNZ’s spokeswoman said: “Over recent years, RNZ has improved the pay position for its staff. These measures have resulted in the average salary moving from $67,000 in 2017 to $86,000 currently for collective employment agreement members, more than a 25 per cent uplift.
“RNZ is now paying staff on average the public sector median,” she said.
“Overall, our remuneration investment has increased with a range of additional measures to improve pay and conditions. Last year staff received a 7 per cent pay increase.
“The present offer is in line with other public sector organisations and has during negotiations moved considerably closer to union demands.”
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.