More than 4000 Public Service Association members at Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are taking strike action on between 1 and 3pm today.
Rallies will be held in towns and cities across New Zealand, while other groups of employees have decided to help their communities by doing volunteer work for the period of industrial action.
PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says, “This isn’t a decision our members have taken lightly, but they feel they have no choice but to take industrial action.”
“We’re asking for fair pay systems and a modest across-the-board pay increase, but both employers have refused - and MBIE even suggested staff work longer hours for the same pay."
PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said members are at the end of their tether.
"Our members take their jobs very seriously and they’re trying desperately to keep the system on track while Inland Revenue presses ahead with its Business Transformation project which will see one in three staff let go by 2021,” said Polaczuk.
"To give just one example - IR’s system is unable to process the Best Start tax credit, which should give lower-income families an extra $60 a week for each child.
It started on July 1 and members were told they would have to process this manually, increasing their workload.
"To have all this happening while the employer refuses to consider a modest across-the-board pay increase is deeply upsetting to our members."
Strike notices were issued to both employers.
MBIE is the agency which advises New Zealand businesses on how to conduct their industrial relations.
Response from Inland Revenue
IR media spokesperson Pete Van Schaardenburg told Rereātea last month that the organisation was working constructively with the PSA to get an outcome that was acceptable to both parties.
He said IR chose to manually process Best Start applications for the first few weeks of July but automated processing would commence shortly after July 7.
"This is to enable us to focus on processing annual July 7 income tax returns and ensuring customers receive their tax refunds as soon as possible. This will not have any impact on the small number of customers receiving their Best Start entitlements from July 1."
PSA members at Inland Revenue have not taken industrial action in 22 years.