In October 2009 Members at the Ministry of Justice embarked on an intense period of industrial action as a result of their employer’s reluctance to negotiate a fair wage settlement.
The Ministry’s performance pay system seriously disadvantaged staff. Ministry of Justice pay rates were, on average, 6.9 per cent below the comparable public service median. The largest group of staff – the 1200 court registry officers – were 10 per cent below.
When the Ministry presented a zero pay offer, members voted to take industrial action under the slogan “Justice for Us”. The action began with a work to rule – that is, doing no extra unpaid hours or tasks. The first national stoppage was on October 31 when members took to the streets with placards and megaphones. This was followed by regular stoppages, many organised locally and timed to have the maximum impact. Around the country, courts were closed and hearings delayed.
When Prince William visited in January 2010 and opened the new Supreme Court in Wellington, Justice members held a rally to highlight their issues. Prince William was heard to compliment members on their colourful banners.
In March 2010 a settlement was finally reached that saw pay improvements for members and a fairer pay system.