More than 180 Personal Grievances claims lodged against NIWA for discrimination

Wednesday 28 February 2024, 2:01AM



More than 180 PSA members have today lodged Personal Grievance claims against NIWA claiming they are being discriminated against because they are union members.

PSA members, who are bargaining for a new Collective Agreement, have been denied access to health insurance NIWA has given its non-union staff as a wellbeing initiative.

PSA National Secretary Duane Leo says NIWA’s stance discriminates against union members and subjects them to unnecessary pressure and stress.

"NIWA said in September that the health insurance was a well-being policy offered to all permanent staff. However, when union members accepted the offer, NIWA refused to give it to them in an attempt to undermine the PSA’s position," Leo says.

The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi (PSA) has been in bargaining with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) since August 2023.

"It’s deeply disappointing that NIWA would try and use staff well-being as some sort of bargaining chip," Leo says.

"NIWA’s stance on a policy supposed to promote wellbeing has caused a great deal of anxiety for our members. We know of members who have delayed surgery or other medical treatment hoping the issue of the medical insurance would be resolved.

"The stress has been compounded because people taking up the medical insurance had to apply within 90 days to have pre-existing conditions covered. Even if PSA members can eventually take up the health insurance, it is not clear if their pre-existing conditions will be covered, which is incredibly hard on people," Leo says.

As well as members lodging personal grievance claims, the PSA has taken legal action against NIWA over the issue. The case, which has been filed in the Employment Relations Authority, will be the subject of mediation this week.

PSA members will picket outside NIWA’s worksites at, Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch at 9am on Thursday 29 February. The picket is in support of health insurance for all staff, a fair pay offer that fairly compensates for the rising cost of living, and movement on NIWA’s gender pay gap.