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Parliament pay dispute just the start

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, October 15th, 2009 - 9 comments
Categories: Parliament, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Non-political staff Parliamentary Service are in industrial action. They want to keep their redundancy provisions that were bargained for years ago and get pay into the collective.

Right now HR decides their wages. They’re meant use this performance pay system but now they’re saying there’s no money and no cost of living adjustments. The pay is frozen but inflation goes up. Don’t give me any of that crap the recession and all doing our bit. These people are working just as hard this year as the year before, why should they get paid less?

Management wants to get rid of the redundancy provisions to make it cheaper and easier to outsource the Parliamentary security service. They think they will get a company with non-unionised, cheaper people and save money. The other half of that is, like when they outsourced the cleaners and the caterers, they will weaken the union. It’s all about keeping wages down in the end.

The workers held another rally yesterday and it’s great that Labour MPs came out to support them (where were the Greens?*).

During Question Time, the Labour MPs all put stickers on the boxes they have in the chamber that read ‘Fair Pay for PS staff”. Outrageously, Speaker Lockwood Smith, who is also in charge of the Parliamentary Service, ordered the Labour MPs to remove the stickers. Apparently, it’s OK to wear stickers and pins supporting other causes, or hold up posters mocking other MPs but not OK to support fair pay for Parliamentary Service workers.

It was one of Lockwood’s typical rush of blood to the head decisions, and his attempt to co-opt the memories of our soldiers’ sacrifice in defence of this country to justify silencing people standing up for fair pay was disgusting. Good on the Labour MPs for not obeying him. (bizarrely, the points of order about this aren’t included in the QT transcript on the Parliament website.)

Anyway, this fight is going to last a while. Management wants to make the minister happy and that means cutting wages. The workers are ready for a fight though and they’re going to be joined by other government workers. Soon, there will be thousands of hardworking public servants undertaking industrial action. They all just want a fair cost of living increase like the Police got. If they stick together they’ll win in the end.

[* frog informs us in the comments: “If the Green MPs had been informed, they would have turned out in support!” Sounds like it was a communication stuff up.]

9 comments on “Parliament pay dispute just the start ”

  1. frog 1

    If the Green MPs had been informed, they would have turned out in support! Some Green staff members turned out as soon as we learned of the rally, (who saw it from the window in Bowen House), but it’s hardly fair to question the Greens when the union didn’t let us know. Despite previous requests this month to be notified of any action, we never got phoned back.

    Better comms, folks, and we’ll turn out in force!

  2. I am amazed that Lockwood Smith required Labour MPs to hide their “Fair Pay for PS Staff” signs in Parliament.

    I can understand that some language can be unparliamentary. “Sleazebag”, “wanker” and “idiot” should not be allowed in a proper debate. But the words used are not offensive. The refusal to give staff a pay rise for the next 5 years is.

    • BLiP 2.1

      Shame on me – I had great hopes for Lockwood. Did you see him yesterday refuse to allow Labour to table a media report on the $21 million cut to the police budget because the document did not have a date on it!! What a dick!!

      • snoozer 2.1.1

        yeah, that was crazy. He gets himself all excited and worked up, then he says something dumb and can’t backdown.

        The brilliant follow-up to that was after Lockwood left the chair, desputy Speaker Rick Barker took his place and when Maurice Willianson tried to table a page rfom a website he insisted on knowing the date of it. Then Annette King stood up and asked permission to table Williamson’s document on his behalf.

  3. Ianmac 3

    Have you noticed that when Lockwood makes a judgement that is a bit dodgy, he, like any parent in the same position, repeats his ruling several times, in rising tones, as though to justify it in his own mind. Right on cue Trevor rises to make a point of order….. Hoot 🙂
    The loss of redundancy rights like the pay freeze, is a worry.

  4. Darien Fenton 4

    Good post Eddie. I am struggling to understand the Speaker’s comments yesterday when he referred to all the people who had died fighting in various wars for freedom of speech, but that freedom of speech only applies to the spoken word!

    • snoozer 4.1

      Yeah, I’m not sure how our boys died for free speech at Passchendaele or in Natal or Vietnam.

      And its well-known that ‘free speech’ isn’t limited to oral communication.

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