5 Jul 2009

NUPE questions ministry's funding deal with union

4:09 pm on 5 July 2009

The National Union of Public Employees is urging the Ministry of Social Development to cut back on a partnership agreement with another union, in order to save jobs.

The ministry plans to cut up to 200 jobs, including those of social workers at Child Youth and Family.

NUPE convenor Paul Shennan says the ministry has had a partnership agreement with the Public Service Association since 2007 that provides $600,000 for union delegates to attend union management meetings in Wellington to discuss employment matters.

Mr Shennan describes this as "junkets for jobs" and says the agreement is no longer practical given the change in Government.

The $600,000 budget should be looked at before the ministry starts considering job losses, he says.

Mr Shennan accepts that some meetings are needed to meet the legal requirements of the Employment Relations Act, but says the budget could be reduced.

The PSA says it is up to the ministry to decide what it wants to spend on the partnership.

The Ministry of Social Development's chief executive Peter Hughes says the agreement costs $470,000 a year, and it is good value for money.

He says the workforce is highly unionised and the partnership funds collective bargaining, working parties and delegate travel.

Mr Hughes says the ministry has a constructive relationship with the PSA, and there has been no threat of industrial action since the ministry was established eight years ago.