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Victory in IRD case highlights importance of good faith - PSA

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Employers must respect unions’ right to bargain on behalf of their members, the Employment Court has ruled - and the PSA is welcoming such a clear statement of the law.

The PSA took legal action against Inland Revenue when it continued to deal directly with PSA members after being informed they were being represented by their union.

More than 1500 PSA members had authorised the union to act on their behalf in a restructuring process which will involve substantial changes to the way they work.

The PSA requested that all communications be sent through the union, but Inland Revenue sent job offers directly to members - which the PSA said was a deliberate attempt to undermine the union and to place pressure on individual employees.

Judge Corkill found Inland Revenue had not acted in good faith, particularly given the stress and pressure PSA members had been placed under in the change process.

"We are extremely satisfied with this decision, which confirms that employers must respect unions’ right to bargain on behalf of their members," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"Judge Corkill notes that in the case of a change process which could give rise to redundancy, there is a significant power imbalance between the employer and the employee.

"We agree wholeheartedly, and welcome such a clear assessment of the situation in which our members have been placed."

Judge Corkill agreed with the PSA that "co-operation, equality and respect" were required in the current circumstances - and said Inland Revenue had placed its employees in a "wholly unacceptable position".

"Inland Revenue has indicated it will comply with the court’s ruling and negotiate about the offers sent to our members - and we believe this is a big step forward," Mr Barclay says.

"Our members understand change is under way, but they are asking the employer to listen to them - and treat them equally and with respect.

"Today, we have been told the law supports their position - and we trust we can look forward to continuing the conversation with Inland Revenue with ‘co-operation, equality and respect’."

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