Ball in PSA's court, Paul says, as row over staff issues continues

The relationship between Otago Museum chief executive Shimrath Paul and the Public Service Association (PSA) has declined, as the two sides continue to spar over staffing issues being aired in the media.

Seven of the museum's 89 staff are PSA members, and the union this week upset Mr Paul by confirming to media some staff believed they had been intimidated by museum management.

The staff were also concerned about heavy workloads and about being asked to work extra hours without pay or time in lieu.

Mr Paul said there was no basis to the allegations, and he guessed the claims had come from a disgruntled former staff member.

He labelled the union "negligent" and said it was "acting in bad faith" because it had failed to adhere to a 1999 agreement that each party would give the other an opportunity to respond to employment-related issues before going to the media.

"We simply cannot understand their actions.

Undoubtedly, it should be of concern not only to the museum, but to all employers and employees that the PSA chooses actively to behave this way," Mr Paul said.

The union responded on Tuesday evening, saying museum management "needs to stop being so defensive about these issues and begin addressing these concerns in a constructive fashion".

The concerns were legitimate and went beyond the PSA membership, its assistant national secretary Warwick Jones said in a statement.

Asked yesterday how the stand-off would be resolved, Mr Paul said it was up to the PSA to make an appointment to see him.

Despite his "ringing repeatedly" last week to try to organise a meeting to discuss the staff concerns, the union had not replied, he said.

"As far as we are concerned, the ball is definitely in their court."

The staff concerns appeared in the Otago Daily Times and other media yesterday.

Asked if any current or former staff members had contacted him since the media reports, Mr Paul said they had not.

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