Back pay ordered for Pact staff

Louise Carr, Pact CEO.
Louise Carr, Pact CEO.
Dunedin-based mental health and disability services provider Pact must pay staff more than $50,000 in back pay after acting in ''serious bad faith'' during pay negotiations.

The order was part of an Employment Court decision that rejected Pact's appeal against an earlier Employment Relations Authority finding that it misled union negotiators and breached the collective agreement in the 2011 bargaining round.

Employment Court Judge Graeme Colgan was damning of Pact's behaviour in the bargaining round, during which it told its ''modestly'' paid staff it could not afford more than a 1% pay-rise - all the while saying it wished it could afford to pay more.

However, this claim was found to be misleading when Pact offered its 150 non-union workers a pay rise of 2% backdated to July 2011, as opposed to the pay rise accepted by union members, which was backdated to November 2011 - amounting to a 1% rise for the entire year.

Judge Colgan rejected Pact's argument that its statements were part of the ''strategic cut and thrust of robust industrial bargaining''.

The statements were made by experienced managers and were not made ''hastily or mistakenly''.

''It was also serious bad faith because Pact acknowledged repeatedly, and apparently solemnly, that it would have wished to have paid its employees ... more than it said it was able and prepared to pay.

''They compared its corporate financial circumstances to those of its employees in refusing adamantly to agree in bargaining to any more than a 1% wage increase but a greater amount than which, shortly afterwards, it offered of its own volition.''

The workers concerned were paid ''very modestly for performing challenging and important social work'', the judge said.

Despite three years passing since the events, there was still a ''significant level of disaffection'' among most of Pact's workforce and ''much bridge building'' was needed.

''Responsibility for initiating that rests with Pact and its management as the party responsible for the relationship deterioration and breakdown.''

Pact was ordered to pay each of the 213 union members employed in November 2011 back pay of 2% of their wages - plus interest for late payment - for the period between July and November 2011.

This amounted to about $249 for each staff member, before interest, and added up to more than $50,000 in total.

Pact was also fined $5000, half of which was to be paid to the court and the other half split between the two unions that represent Pact staff - the Service and Food Workers Union and the Public Service Association (PSA).

Pact corporate services director Paul Chamberlain and PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff did not return calls yesterday.


Pact properties

I know they used to operate out of a property in South Road, Caversham. Not sure whether they are still there, but they are now in Filleul St, in the city, where the rates are presumably higher. They certainly seem upmarket.

A closer eye needs to be put on any 'providers' of community services whether they are Pakeha or Maori/Pacific Islander. The opportunity for aggrandisement, personal or otherwise, can be tempting for the wrong people in charge. Same problem whenever public money is involved.

Business or about the people?

PACT care more about buying properties and renovating their office then the people they are supposed to be caring for and supporting. I have seen this first hand and now they pull this stunt...

Not good, not good at all! The DHB and ministry need to do a better job seeing where the funds allocated actually go and who this benefits.

Disaffected or exploited?

Cabbage: Why? Do you mean non-union workers are on higher paid individual contracts, or do you mean it's all stirred up by the Union?

Read between the lines

I'd bet there isn't any "significant level of disaffection" amongst the non-union workers.



Yes, I agree. If you treat your staff with repect, staff will give you 100% and more. It's appalling. Yes, management should resign or get their wages deducted. .

Superb Pact workers

Pact staff are held in high regard. They act as outreach support workers and residential caregivers. Pact is an NGO funded by DHB contract, I understand. It is not good enough for Pact management to remain silent on this legal decision.

Management should resign

It is appalling that the Pact management treats its staff like this. The workers concerned are in the business of helping people living sometimes very marginal lives and here we have the management treating their own workers with such callous disregard. Those responsible should resign.


What goes around comes around . . . not nice people to work for.

Pact bad faith

I am not at all surprised at this, have worked for them I would class them as a bad employer.


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