Court workers protest over pay

Dunedin District Court staffer Dave Pegg protests along with other court workers, lawyers, and members of other unions. Photo: Craig Baxter
Dunedin District Court staffer Dave Pegg protests along with other court workers, lawyers, and members of other unions. Photo: Craig Baxter
A strike for better pay closed Dunedin District Court again yesterday afternoon, as about 30 court workers and their supporters chanted and waved placards in Castle St.

The protest began at 12.30pm and was part of a national afternoon of industrial action, following an unsuccessful attempt by the Ministry of Justice to obtain an interim injunction from the Employment Court against the Public Service Association's lightning strikes.

Criminal court deputy registrar Larry White, among the protesters, said the backlog of cases at the court was continuing to build.

''There's going to be a day of reckoning,'' Mr White said of the situation.

Chanting slogans, the protesters assembled outside the main entrance to the courthouse in Dunbar St before marching down to Castle St.

Since September, court staff around the country have been involved in industrial action.

They are pushing for an 11% pay rise over two years, after rejecting the ministry's latest offer of 6% over two years and an additional payment of $750.

Lawyers, including Dunedin barrister Anne Stevens, joined the protest and members of other unions, including First Union and the Tramways Union, turned up to show their support for the court workers.

Mr White said while judges finished their work at 5pm, there were other tasks to complete such as dealing with people in the cells, and the work of a registrar included a lot of unpaid overtime.

''We come in early and work late just for the pride of the job.''

Mrs Stevens said the court workers were ''really poorly paid''.

''They are skilled workers, they are essential to keeping the wheels of justice turning.''

In the morning, Judge John Macdonald said it was one of the most disruptive days he had had in court in 29 years.

The ministry said in a statement yesterday it was ''open and committed to reaching a negotiated settlement'' and ready to work with the PSA at any time.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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