18 Sep 2018

Courts to close for two hours on Wednesday due to strike

9:38 am on 18 September 2018

Courts around the country will close for two hours on Wednesday while staff strike for better pay.

18072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Wellington High Court.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Almost 2000 union members at the Ministry of Justice have voted to go ahead with industrial action after pay negotiations stalled.

The Public Service Association (PSA) said the stoppage was to get a fair pay deal for low-paid and female workers.

Female justice employees earn 15 percent less than male staff and on average the workers have some of the lowest wages in the public sector, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk has said previously.

Ms Polaczuk has said the ministry did not properly valuing some female-dominated roles.

"They do crucial jobs such as court registry officers, court reporters, victim advisors and family court co-ordinators.

"They deserve to be properly valued for the work they do in making sure the justice system runs smoothly and fairly."

The ministry's chief executive, Andrew Bridgman, said bargaining for a new contract has been going on for months.

Workers were offered a 5 percent pay increase over two years, which is in line with other public sector agreements, Mr Bridgman said.

The PSA has requested a 13 percent payrise.

District and High Courts as well as tribunal offices will close from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

The High Court in Auckland will stay open for a limited number of hearings but the public counters will be closed.

All district court matters set down for the morning will be rescheduled.

The court will contact defendants, witnesses and other parties with the new hearing dates and times.

Hearings at the Disputes Tribunal and Tenancy Tribunal will be pushed back to the afternoon. The public counters will also be closed there.

District and High Courts will begin hearing matters from 2.15pm.

The ministry's phone contact centre will remain open but there could be delays in answering calls.