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Corrections staff vote to walk off the job after nine months of bargaining

Thursday 30 March 2023, 10:06AM

By PSA

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1900 Community Corrections workers have voted to strike three times over April, after nine months of negotiations between the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, and the Department of Corrections.

The strikes will involve PSA Community Corrections members walking off the job for three 2-hour strikes, three weeks in a row. This will leave residential facilities managed by Corrections unstaffed, Courts will not have Corrections representatives, programmes will cease to run in Prisons, Community Work crews will not be able to operate, electronic monitoring will not be monitored and sentences and orders such as Parole and Release Conditions will not be managed.

"Members are insulted by the Department’s offer. The most recent proposal and the Department’s pay system is rooted in the past and ignores the realities of today with inflation at 7.2%, where burnout is ‘just part of the job’ and covering for constant staff vacancies means holding dangerously large workloads," said PSA lead organiser for Community Corrections, Josephine O’Connor.

"Our members know that the Department cannot recruit new staff on the current pay rates, and many are considering their options. Staff who have been with the Department for more than 20 years, managing the most intensive risk that Corrections has responsibility for, are being offered a wage cut when adjusted for inflation.

"We have members relying on food parcels, living off multiple credit cards and needing secondary employment, via night shifts at supermarkets. It’s devastating for people who should be respected public service workers.

"These are people performing what is often regarded as invisible work. You won’t see them featured in Corrections TV advertisements chatting at BBQ’s, they don’t wear uniforms, they are mostly women, and they manage 75% of people under the care of Corrections. There are 31,000 sentences and orders being managed by PSA members at Community Corrections on any day of the week and this includes approximately 7,000 people on Electronic Monitoring. This is a vital, 24/7 operation and the pay is appalling.

"PSA Community Corrections members are subject to pay that sits just above the minimum wage and a pay system which discriminates against Māori staff and Corrections does not appear to care about this.

"Investing in Public Service pay is investing in public services. The PSA will continue to push for wage increases that close the gap with the private sector and offset the inflationary pressures on our members’ household budgets," said Josephine O’Connor.